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The Cybertruck starts at US$39,900, and Chinese consumers can now pre-order it with a deposit of 1,000 yuan (US$142). (Picture: Tesla)

Tesla Cybertruck hailed by some in China as country embraces pickup trucks

Pickup trucks are rising in popularity in China as regulations are relaxed

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Unlike Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose popularity has been falling in China, many Chinese netizens still love Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. But Tesla’s newly announced Cybertruck has proven divisive on China’s internet.

Some people are excited about soon being able to drive the company’s electric pickup truck, which is already accepting pre-orders in China.

“I’ve only seen this in Death Race and Mad Max,” one Weibo user said. “This is so cool.”
“When I think that I could drive this thing to and from work before I’m 40 years old, I look forward to the year 2030,” a user on Q&A site Zhihu wrote.

Zhihu, where people in China go to ask questions and get answers

But what some people see as sleek and futuristic, others see as crude and ugly. Netizens are joking that the pickup truck looks like something made by Geng Shuai -- a welder from a village near Beijing who has attracted a large following on short video app Kuaishou with quirky inventions like a smartphone case that doubles as a meat cleaver and a toilet built into a scooter.

Kuaishou is China’s original short-video king, and it now hosts ‘little shops’ and live streaming

“Is this a partnership between Tesla and Geng?” one Weibo user asked, with many similar comments appearing under other posts about Cybertruck.
“Suddenly I feel like I could design a car,” another said.

Others are pointing out the most embarrassing part of the truck’s launch: When trying to demonstrate the strength of the vehicle’s “Armor Glass” windows, they cracked.

Under Elon Musk’s Weibo post about the truck, one user simply commented, “But the glass…”
The Cybertruck starts at US$39,900, and Chinese consumers can now pre-order it with a deposit of 1,000 yuan (US$142). (Picture: Tesla)
Those in China who love the design can pre-order the truck with a deposit of 1,000 yuan (US$142) on Tesla’s Chinese website, which accepts Alipay and WeChat Pay. Some users on Zhihu are already showing off screenshots of their pre-orders.

WeChat, the app that does everything

But selling pickup trucks in China is tricky business. Some consumers shy away from them because China has placed restrictions on the vehicles in the past. Before 2018, all pickup trucks, which are classified as cargo trucks in China, were required to have reflective safety labels on the trunks and information about the weight and height had to be spray-painted on the outside.

One of the most popular Cybertruck memes circulating on China’s internet shows some people worry the vehicle could lose its cyberpunk aesthetic in the country.

Netizens joke that Cybertruck will have to look like this in China. (Picture: Weibo)
While this kind of labeling is no longer required in China, many cities still restrict pickup trucks in urban areas. In Beijing, for example, pickup trucks are not allowed within the 5th ring road -- the city has multiple circular roads surrounding the city center -- from 6am to 11pm.
But the popularity of pickup trucks has been rising as some cities ease their restrictions on the vehicles. Last year, when auto sales in China declined for the first time in two decades, sales of pickup trucks increased 10 percent.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our award-winning Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.