In 1984 Karl Geiger bought his first Corvette. Then it happened to him: he dedicated himself to importing vehicles from the USA. Mainly those with large engines. But more and more electric cars are also coming onto the market in the States – most recently the Tesla Cybertruck. The star asked what the professional importer thinks of Elon Musk’s latest product – and whether you will be able to buy the truck from him.
Mr. Geiger, more and more American manufacturers, new and old, are bringing electric versions of successful models – such as the Hummer or the F-150 – onto the market. And now it came with great fanfare Cybertruck in addition. How is this change affecting you, one of the largest import vehicle dealers?
The interest is definitely there – to the point where people are taking a closer look at the vehicles. As soon as it comes to hard facts, such as trailer loads or payload, customers turn to the classics. An important feature, especially now in winter, is the short range. And with this horrible Cybertruck, Tesla hasn’t kept its word on paper about that. At first it was said that the truck could easily cover 500 miles, but now, according to Tesla, it’s suddenly only 320. That doesn’t inspire trust.
The other key data of the vehicles don’t look so bad after all. According to Tesla, the Cybertruck can load 1.1 tons and tow almost 5 tons.
I find that hard to believe. A large Chevrolet or Dodge has a payload of 900 to 1100 kilograms. And they weigh around 2.5 tons. So how is an even heavier car supposed to have such a payload? The Cybertruck weighs over three tons empty.
With which license can you actually drive the car?
If you don’t load the Cybertruck too heavily, it falls under class B. However, you will quickly exceed 3.5 tons due to the very high basic weight. You would have a little more room for improvement with the old driver’s license. But above a certain payload, the SUV would be a truck and would require the appropriate driving license.
What do you think of the Cybertruck in general?
Well, I have to say that I’m not an electronics fan at all. As for the truck, I don’t think a normal person drives something like that. Absolutely unnecessary part. The car is so incredibly ugly, I wouldn’t even drive it for free.
For me, a car is always a small work of art. And I don’t particularly like normal electric cars. In my opinion, the Ford Mustang Mach-E is still the most beautiful.
Now beauty is subjective.
Maybe, but I don’t hear much good about the electric cars in my area. Of course it’s fun to press the pedal a few times on a 1000 hp Hummer, but even that quickly becomes boring because it doesn’t play a role in everyday life. Other strengths count. And when I hear that my friend’s Tesla can cover maybe 250 kilometers in the winter, I lose interest in these cars.
Do your customers want electric vehicles? USA?
As I said – there is interest, but orders are rare. We have now sold two Ford F-150 Lightnings to Austria because there are incredibly high taxes on high-horsepower combustion engines, which are waived for electric vehicles. We also sold two lobsters, but I’ll have one back on the farm soon.
The new car is broken. Its buyer had a lot of fun kicking the heavy 1000 hp car from a standstill at maximum acceleration very often – and now it has dismantled the front axle. We don’t yet know what will happen to the car. We have to sort this all out. Normally we put the car on a ship and then it goes back to the USA. But as soon as I send one of my electric vehicles out to sea, I no longer sleep.
That sounds dramatic.
Do you remember the ship on which electric cars probably burned? That woke me up and I wanted to know from my insurance company what would actually happen if it had been a car from my inventory.
The shipping company informed me that if my car was identified as the cause, I would be liable. For the whole ship. And insurance only ever covers a few million. If that happened, I would be broke. The risk is simply too high. I’m now afraid of importing electric cars.
Prices, range, performance
“Apocalyptic beast” – that’s what Tesla’s new Cybertruck can do
How do you assess the chances of bringing a Cybertruck to Germany and being able to drive the car here?
The Cybertruck has no chance in Germany. At least not in its current form. It starts with the lighting system and I would bet that the weight doesn’t work in the end either. You have to measure everything correctly here again and then you will quickly experience a surprise. But I don’t think that’s even the biggest problem.
Because that would be?
Look at the front. In the USA there are other requirements regarding pedestrian protection. It’s impossible to drive that here.
What would you have to do to be able to drive the car in this country?
For the moment we have to rely on our experiences in various EU countries with other pick-ups that are not approved ex works. We would probably have to rebuild the entire front – perhaps with soft rubber? And then there are many tests that the car has to pass. In the end you end up with a very expensive individual purchase that is actually not worth it at all.
How much does something like that cost?
For an individual inspection where we know what to do and can complete the inspection on the first attempt, you have to expect 15,000 euros. In a car like the Cybertruck, where I see so many sharp edges at a glance that it makes me dizzy, significantly more. The front will have to be completely rebuilt, otherwise it won’t pass the test. I have no idea what they were thinking.
Elon Musk himself said that the Cybertruck wins in all collisions – without explicitly mentioning people or cyclists. He probably meant cars – but the statement stands.
In my opinion, Elon Musk is a very good businessman and skillfully addresses his target group with statements like this. In the end, however, he will probably fill his pockets, collect all the subsidies, pay no trade tax and we will be stuck with the bill. You don’t think these cars have any durability to speak of. This is all junk that we will eventually have to dispose of at great expense.
How do you come to this conclusion?
I am building schools in Africa – currently the third. There I met a professor whose family drives an old Mercedes-Benz Stroke-Eight. The thing is ancient, but in incredible condition. This is preserved and maintained and gets people from A to B even in this desperately poor country. I don’t see electric cars there – how can I? You can’t charge these things without electricity – if the batteries even last that long. I’ve already told you about my friend’s Tesla – not only does the range decrease, but the initially rather poor quality also becomes more and more noticeable. These are not cars that last forever.
And yet you see them in large numbers on the streets.
That’s what you mean. Take a drive through the posh suburbs of Munich. It wasn’t long ago that the GT3 was in the garage and the Tesla was on the doorstep – that has completely changed again. If anyone still has their Tesla, it will be behind the gates and the Porsche will be shown.
Do you notice this in your sales?
However. People come to me who were never interested in a V8 before, but now they desperately want one. We buy almost everything we can get – and it doesn’t last long. Corvettes leave the yard here all the time. And now that Dodge has announced that it no longer wants to build the large engines, the big collecting of the models is starting. Gasoline and diesel engines keep us alive, but electric vehicles only cause problems.
But somehow it has to go on.
It will too. I think that in the long term we will end up with fuel cells or alternative fuels.
Is there an end in sight for your business model?
That depends on the regulations that await us now. For cars without a COC, i.e. type approval from the European Union, it has already become almost impossible. A simplified COC can help, but then the number of possible approvals in the EU is limited – and if this is ignored, the manufacturers have to pay a fine. Of course nobody wants that.
It doesn’t sound so good.
I’ve been doing this with passion for 45 years now. But things have become very restless in our business and we don’t invest much anymore because it can be over from one day to the next. That’s how you get through it. But it’s been a great time up to this point that I don’t want to miss.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.