I’ll be the first to admit that the charms of Tesla’s not-yet-extant but already quite profitable upcoming electric pickup truck, the boldly-designed Cybertruck, are kind of lost on me. I adore weird and risky automotive designs, but the Cybertruck just doesn’t seem to be designed to be an actually usable truck. The design decisions seem to come from some other inspiration, and this Tweet from Elon Musk, Tesla’s shy CEO, seems to explain what that source is: a hypothetical future where everything has gone to shit.
He didn’t specifically say “a future where everything has gone to shit,” but he did specifically say this
Yes, a “post-apocalyptic” future. Specifically, post-apocalypse technology, a concept that I wouldn’t generally think would be something most people in our present, presumably pre-apocalypse world would be all that interested in, since an apocalypse inherently suggests the destruction of all of human society and civilization, and presumably with that our capacity for advanced technological manufacturing.
I mean, has this dude seen what we think of when we think about vehicles from after apocalypses?
Is that the technology he’s talking about? Those don’t seem particularly like environmentally-friendly EVs, so maybe Tesla is planning a fundamental technology shift, drivetrain-wise, and focusing more on big V8s with straight pipes.
Maybe he means more like this:
You know, lots of spikes, minimal upholstery, most likely no heated seats or GPS on a big flat screen in the center of the dash.
Maybe the Mad Max series is too played out for Elon, and he’s thinking of more realistic post-apocalypse vehicles, like what was seen in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road:
You know, that cool post-apocalypse tech of whatever old heap can be made to keep moving, piloted by desperate, filthy, hungry people clinging hopelessly to a meaningless attempt to survive in a ruined world.
That’s what sells trucks!
There’s even whole groups of people who get together and pretend the apocalypse has already happened, and this is what their vehicle tech looks like:
What I’m getting at here is that the technology of a world after an apocalypse really isn’t something I think anyone actually wants. Sure, there’s a cool factor to the concept of such a lawless, ruined world, a freedom from the shackles of civilization and normalcy that we’ve all decided to place ourselves in.
But, for a truck someone might want to drive every day and use to pick up lumber or go camping in our relatively cannibal-gang-free national parks or maybe shove some canoes into for paddling on lakes that are water, not radioactive slime or blood, I just don’t see the appeal of post-apocalypse tech.
I think this is pretty telling of the fundamental design ideas behind the Cybertruck, though: a truck designed for those who want that feeling of constant alertness, fear, and nihilistic desperation, that intoxicating mix of complete freedom, vomiting blood, and crying yourself to sleep every night as you realize you can’t even remember what real kindness felt like.
No wonder so many people have pre-ordered!