Cars

Six Theories on Why the Cybertruck’s Bulletproof Glass Cracked So Easily

“Oh my goodness” is exactly the reaction you hope for when you unveil an innovative new product at a keynote event. Ideally, you want it to be said in awe by the audience members, not exclaimed in shock by the presenter (and CEO) after a large ball bearing shatters the armored glass window of the new Cybertruck. And not just once, but twice.

Unfortunately, that’s the situation Tesla CEO Elon Musk found himself in during last week’s Cybertruck launch. But why did this happen? Here are a few possible explanations.

Start with the Windows, Not the Door

Remember the scene from The Dark Knight when Heath Ledger’s Joker advises Batman not to start an interrogation by hitting someone in the head because it makes the victim disoriented? Well, when it comes to conducting an on-stage stress test of a futuristic pickup truck, it seems logical to begin by testing the window before subjecting the door to a sledgehammer.

According to Elon Musk, the reason for the broken windows is that they were already weakened by the sledgehammer impact on the door before the ball bearing was thrown at them. “Sledgehammer impact on door cracked base of glass, which is why the steel ball didn’t bounce off,” Musk tweeted. He suggested that they should have tested the window with a steel ball first, then hit the door with a sledgehammer. This explanation would explain why the windows withstood the ball bearing during rehearsals but failed during the live event, as they weren’t previously damaged by a sledgehammer.

Only the Front Windows Were Armored Glass

Musk’s explanation seems quite plausible. However, it doesn’t entirely clarify why the back window also shattered, even though only the front door panel endured the sledgehammer blows.

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One theory is that only the front window was equipped with armored glass. The Tesla engineers likely didn’t anticipate using the back window for the demonstration and therefore didn’t reinforce it. Musk might have been unaware of this and decided to use it as a backup, which obviously didn’t go well.

They Threw the Ball Bearing Too Hard

When people find themselves in front of an enthusiastic crowd, they often get carried away. The “throw the ball bearing at the window” test had been conducted at least five times before the live event, apparently without any breakage.

However, if we compare the GIF shared by Elon Musk on Twitter to the live throws, it’s clear that the pitch in the GIF is notably slower (even after accounting for slow motion). Musk himself admitted during the event, “maybe that was a little too hard.” So, it’s not really a theory but an obvious fact that the windows couldn’t withstand the force. The question is whether it was solely due to excessive force or also because the windows were already weakened.

That’s What Bulletproof Glass Does

Contrary to movies, bulletproof glass doesn’t make bullets bounce off harmlessly. Traditional bulletproof glass cracks upon impact, but only the top layers, preventing the projectile from passing through. During his presentation, Musk mentioned that the ball bearing “didn’t go through,” implying that the windows functioned as intended.

However, this theory seems flawed, aside from Musk’s evident disappointment. Namely, the glass isn’t genuinely bulletproof. There’s also the issue that Musk himself has seen released footage depicting how the test was supposed to go, and it definitely wasn’t supposed to end with shattered glass.

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Shouldn’t Have Fully Clamped It Down

We shouldn’t judge the strength of a window solely based on a drop test. Many people online have pointed out that the ball bearing drop test wasn’t an accurate representation of the glass’s actual strength when firmly installed. During the drop test, the glass wasn’t fully clamped down, allowing for some flexibility. Once the windows were fitted, they had much less give when subjected to impact.

One option to increase their strength would be to incorporate small springs or shock absorbers, although this might compromise the sleek appearance of the vehicle. Let’s be honest, how often do automotive engineers throw metal balls at our vehicles in our daily lives? If it happens more than once or twice a year, it’s time for some serious introspection.

It Was All an Ad for Tesla Car Insurance

“When life hurls giant ball bearings at you, you need all the protection money can buy.” What better advertisement for a future Elon Musk company than showcasing one of the countless hypothetical ways your new Tesla might suffer damage after leaving the showroom?

Okay, it’s highly unlikely that this was a marketing strategy for Tesla insurance. However, the idea of it being a calculated stunt isn’t entirely far-fetched. The amount of attention garnered by a simple window breakage has exposed the Cybertruck to a wide audience that might not have heard of it otherwise.

The impressive number of pre-orders confirms that, despite the abundance of Cybertruck memes circulating, it hasn’t deterred people from purchasing it. Elon Musk has demonstrated an exceptional ability to harness the power of memes, as evidenced by his musical tribute to the late gorilla, Harambe. Considering Musk’s previous antics, such as smoking a joint on Joe Rogan’s podcast, orchestrating a “misfortunate” window break wouldn’t be the most outrageous thing he has done.

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