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Shattering of Tesla truck windows joins list of auto launch fails

Melinda Grenier Bloomberg News

New-product launches don’t always go as planned. Thursday night’s preview of Tesla Inc.’s Cybertruck was one of the more spectacular examples, when Franz von Holzhausen, the company’s design chief, unintentionally shattered two of the pickup’s windows with a metallic ball.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s reaction? “Oh my f–-ing god.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla's design studio Thursday in Hawthorne, Calif.

Here are a few other auto-industry previews that went astray.

Chrysler Minivan (1983)

When Chrysler introduced its first minivan in November 1983, Chairman Lee Iacocca drove it off the assembly line, accompanied by other executives. He got out and waved to the crowd, but the sliding rear door wouldn’t open, trapping the men in the back. They were quickly rescued.

Nissan QX Inspiration (2019)

Nissan Motor Co. prepared a splashy video introduction for the precursor of its first fully electric sport-utility vehicle. But when it came time for the Infiniti model to roll onto the stage at this year’s Detroit auto show, the SUV failed to appear. Karim Habib, then Infiniti’s executive design director, paused, said “You can’t see it, but it is here,” and then went back onscript as if the vehicle had emerged. Technicians couldn’t get it to start and ended up covering it with a black tarp.

Nissan Leaf (2018)

Nissan had an unwelcome distraction in 2018 when it planned to unveil a longer-range Leaf electric car at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The company’s former Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn had been arrested about two weeks earlier for alleged financial crimes and was being held in a Tokyo jail. So even though Nissan postponed the official announcement until January 2019, the Hollywood actress it hired to promote the Leaf, Margot Robbie, still gamely appeared – sans the car – to talk about environmental issues.

DaimlerChrysler Tomahawk (2003)

Sometimes preview plans work too well. Back when Chrysler was part of DaimlerChrysler AG, corporate executive Wolfgang Bernhard became the talk of the 2003 Detroit auto show when he roared in on a concept Dodge Tomahawk motorcycle. Powered by the Dodge Viper’s V-10 engine, the Tomahawk overshadowed the other Chrysler models on display. Despite all the hoopla, the company decided not to produce and sell the four-wheel bike.

Chrysler Ram Pickup (2008)

Another Chrysler preview strategy also created an unexpected diversion.To launch its new Ram trucks in 2008, the automaker staged a cattle drive down Washington Boulevard to the former Cobo Center, the site of the Detroit auto show. One of the steers got a bit too romantically involved with a longhorn cow in the drive, prompting Pat Schiavone, design chief for Ford Motor Co.’s pickup programs, to say,according to the Windsor Star, “He’s obviously very excited about the new truck.”