This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days. Afterwards it will only be available to read at Like stern, Capital belongs to RTL Deutschland.

A man wipes the sharp tail of the Cybertruck with a yellow rag. The car should be kept in a high gloss, but despite all efforts, one cannot say that the huge beauty completely satisfies the desire for shine. A stubborn swamp of fingerprints has formed on the side of the door. Although this is of course supposed to be a car for the rough, one wonders whether it can be a successful German premiere. In Germany, people wouldn’t even buy a refrigerator that left traces on it.

Elon Musk’s people parked the Tesla cybertruck made of unpainted stainless steel in the courtyard of a Berlin shopping center on Thursday morning. This is supposed to be the start of something that they call “Odyssey”, perhaps with only superficial knowledge of that ancient story, which is about wanderings and tall tales and whose vehicles, the ships, almost all crash or sink. Regardless, the Cybertruck has many fans. It is not available at all in Europe, and in America it only works a little (the accelerator pedal is stuck, or rather, the power pedal).

Nevertheless, the strange vehicle still exerts a strange fascination on many people. Young people in particular watch YouTube videos with the Cybertruck endlessly. That’s why Tesla has hired a dozen or so employees. The company doesn’t actually need advertising or anything like press support, but it has had to learn a little humility in the past few months. Not only because of the sticking accelerator pedal, but also because the share price was at times falling steeply, the company guru on Twitter or whatever it is now called caused a lot of contradiction and the profit margin ended up at a level at which other populous companies like VW operate.

In the morning, the Cybertruck had not yet caused a crowd. At times there are hardly more visitors than Tesla employees milling around the giant car. This doesn’t compare to the casserole that a new iPhone produces. After all, there are real fans like David Duhme here too. The 22-year-old is a budding aerospace engineer, has been reading every tweet from Elon Musk since 2017 and thinks a lot of what he reads is correct (unless it’s about Russia and Ukraine). He also has Tesla shares that would still make a nice profit if sold today. When he graduates next year, then let’s go to America, maybe he’ll have enough to buy his first Tesla. Duhme is a representative of a generation that is not interested in cars in general, but is interested in Tesla. He knows the landscape of Chinese tech companies in detail, knows their strengths and weaknesses and believes that the traditional German auto industry no longer has a foot on the ground.

Visitors like Duhme are only allowed to sneak around the car from the outside; press representatives are allowed to take a seat at the square steering wheel. The interior looks very crude, all plastic, as if you could hose it down with a garden hose when it gets dusty. Should we mention the gap dimensions at this point? On the front hood (which is not a hood) there is a body joint like a crater gap that gets bigger and bigger as it goes up. But that was exactly the German car industry’s misunderstanding of Tesla, which allowed the competitor to become so big. The fact that people here thought they could look at Tesla by the standards of traditional car construction and declare it a lightweight, because the Californians didn’t spend as long with the measuring gauge around the car as the Germans and didn’t touch the decorative seams on the seats as extensively, whether they really run evenly. They obviously missed the real fascination.

“A lot of people ask, where can I buy it,” says a Tesla man at the stand. He always has to say: not at all yet. A man comes out of the shopping center, walks past the car, stands there for ten seconds and then shouts “Fuck” loudly as he continues walking. It’s not entirely clear whether this is meant in contempt or admiration.

A couple from Malmö passed by by chance; they were driving a Tesla Model 3. They found the cyberstar “grotesque”. “Well, at least it’s unique,” she adds, trying to compromise with her husband, because he’s quite impressed with the giant car, even though the neighbors in Sweden might turn up their noses.

And then Mustapha and Bianca came from the outskirts of town. Normally they no longer move to the center, the first child is on the way. Mustapha is 29, Bianca is 31. He calls himself an investor, she works as a clerk in the district office. He has been a Tesla fan from the very beginning, raved about the Tesla Roadster as a teenager, but ended up with the Jaguar ZF because the Tesla was too expensive – and then the charging problems in the big city. He has since sold the Jaguar again. Mustapha had been on Tesla’s mailing list since a test drive, so he was invited to the Cybertruck presentation in the shopping center.

When the child is there, it should definitely be an electric car, but not because of the environment, but because it is simply cooler, faster, more superior. However, Mustapha’s love for Tesla has cooled somewhat. But that has nothing to do with Elon Musk’s sayings; he finds them to be absolutely correct – even more so than before. The Cybertruck, well. She thinks it’s just okay, but it’s actually way too soft for her. “That’s just the softened version,” he complains. In addition, Mustapha has found out exactly what the Chinese are offering when it comes to electric cars. Either a Tesla or a China car, he says. The new one from the cell phone company Xiaomi, for example.

And what about a German car? The couple shakes. Although the car that VW has now shown at the trade fair in Beijing is sensational, they say. “Finally it’s not such a junk house,” shouts Mustapha. But that should only be for China. And then all the software and entertainment technology at the Germans, “everything jerks, nothing works,” says the young man. Bianca shakes her head.

Three police officers also came. The officer explains “paint bag attacks” or any other actions by activists. Just two days ago, a fleet of Amazon vans burned down. A letter of responsibility stated that the perpetrators were planning “an exciting week of action against Tesla.” The Cybertruck, as beefy as it looks, cannot protect itself.

In the afternoon the tarpaulin should be pulled over the car again, then two more days in Berlin, then the odyssey continues.