My views on Cybertruck.

November 1st, 2023

On the 28th of October, after years of steering clear of him at events for fear he’d recognize how critical I’v been of his work, I had a short dialogue with FVH, Tesla’s design head.

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the truck, but it was the first time I’d discussed it with him, and heard him do a personal walk around and Q&A.

It confirmed a few things.

1) I offered that the Cybertruck reminded me most of the troop transport from Aliens, especially the wheel covers and tire sidewalls and windshield rake. He laughed and smiled as he agreed.

2) I was reminded most of the Countach the first time I saw the Cybertruck, and it was on the 28th that I learned that FVH owns one and is a fan. How much of a fan? I witnessed him run up to a Countach excitedly to connect with the owner as it was about to drive away.

3) Stainless steel makes it impossible to do many things, and leads to some awkward areas on the vehicle. It also required the form get its character in ways different than if working with steel or aluminum. Hence the Roblox or Minecraft 8 bit aesthetic.

4) I watched as the designer of the Ferrari Enzo express his respect for what FVH had pulled off and brought to ‘reality’ and ‘production.’ Some might say a dystopian reality, and a production hell to come, but nevertheless…

Now before I start with the praise, know that there is a lot I dislike on principle, aesthetically, and in terms of decisions made. Dislike strongly if not vehemently. But at least it’s not another Model Y like bland drone, and imagine the edginess of design it could signal. (Expect being a pedestrian to get more dangerous in the coming years.)

What appeals to me about the Cybertruck is what appeals to me about Coupe SUVs, or a number of concept cars over the years that never got built: heightened ground clearance, far higher than you’d expect aptitude in how it goes down the road and moves you emotionally.

There’s some appeal to keeping battery sizes smaller than they’re known for, and letting one add more if and when needed. We will see if this catches on with consumers as some of us have been foretelling for years if not decades.

It reminds me of the Model S in that it attempts to leapfrog the competition and introduce a new concept as a category. It reminds me of Highland in that it seems a sign that Tesla is willing to engineer, not just software engineer, again to catch up to the competition that has passed them by while they rested on their laurels. Also see the 800V architecture, a la VAG and Lucid (technically 926 or so.)

Note I said car. It’s hard to see it as a truck. But it has enough ride height and utility and towing capability for what most need. As does a Ridgeline. This is really Tesla’s Ridgeline TypeR.

Another thing I respect: after my mocking them for the yoke and saying using it or a square wheel in a car was a joke unless the steering was active or by wire, they went and did the work I’d said Toyota and Infiniti had done. So they deserve credit here. Canoo did it first, but it remains to be seen who will hit the roads first.

This car is like the Falcon doors on a Model X, in both the best and the worst ways. Appeals to children and kid in us all, like it or not.

Part Delorean from Back to the Future, Part KITT, part Sci Fi assault vehicle, the Cybertruck goes after the hearts of those who gobbled up TRON Legacy, Super 8, or even the IONIQ5. Those that pined, like FVH, for the Countach, and grew up watching the same movies and Sci Fi.

In a way Elon represents the overgrown manchild in us all, and that’s who he is appealing to: the bit of him in us all.

I’m curious to drive it. Even if I’d hate to be seen in it, associated with it, or have to look at it inside or out.

But I hope it signals what the i3 once did: the opportunity for Electrification to free us from old form factors and the ability to experiment with new ones. We need more concepts to make it to production, and fewer cars that are just variations on decade old themes.

I don’t have to love the Cybertruck, but after I get the chance to drive one I’ll know whether I continue to respect it, ridiculousness and immaturity and all.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.