Tesla’s Cybertruck didn’t always look so cyberpunk

Elon Musk biographer Walter Isaacson has shared a photograph of the Tesla CEO during an early meeting about the Cybertruck that sheds interesting light on the alternative designs considered, as well as the pop culture that ultimately inspired it. On the left of the image we can see several concept images of Tesla’s electric pickup truck, while on the right is a mood board showing images from various movies and video games, including many sci-fi and cyberpunk titles. In the foreground Musk can be seen in conversation with Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen.

Other shots identified by Business Insider include James Bond’s Lotus Esprit 1 Series submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me, the DMC Delorean, and images from RoboCop and Tron. Isaacson also notes that Halo also made an appearance on the display boards.

Although Isaacson doesn’t explicitly date the image, he shared it alongside a 2017 anecdote from his forthcoming biography on Musk, in which the Tesla CEO made the decision to construct the Cybertruck out of stainless steel. “Instead of using stamping machines that would sculpt carbon fiber into body panels with subtle curves and shapes, stainless steel would favor straight planes and sharp angles,” Isaacson writes. “That allowed— and in some ways forced— the design team to explore ideas that were more futuristic, edgier, even jarring.”

According to Isaacson, Musk personally pushed for a less conventional design, even if that meant potentially putting off some customers. He reports that Musk had been talked out of taking a similarly radical design for the Model Y (which has subsequently gone on to become a bestseller) but wouldn’t back down when it came to Tesla’s first pickup truck. “I want the future to look like the future,” Musk reportedly said. “We’re not doing a traditional boring truck. We can always do that later. I want to build something that’s cool. Like, don’t resist me.”


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