Elon Musk and Tesla recently unveiled Cybertruck. I’m sure you know this. It’s been everywhere. It is the ride that launched a million memes.
I think Cybertruck held the internet’s attention so intensely because no one knows what to think about the damn thing. What are we to make of a truck that has an all-electric powertrain while also having ballistic glass windows? What are we to make of a vehicle with cold-rolled steel armor plates and a pop-up tent for camping?
Who is this for? It defies the traditional American left-right analysis. Is it for liberal hippies because of the lithium battery banks? Is it for the red-state, rolling-coal, lifted F250 crowd because of the armor and tank-like styling? This is a small mundane demonstration that politics have never neatly fallen on a one-dimensional spectrum.
I propose that Cybertruck defies the usual auto-industry psychographics (and mainstream-media political analysis), because Cybertruck is the first ecofacist vehicle. It’s a car that acknowledges that climate change is real, and that petroleum is not a limitless resource. But rather than ask “How we might avoid the looming climate disaster?”, Cybertruck’s designers wondered “How might the wealthy avoid the consequences?” Their answer was “With (nominally) bullet-proof glass and armored door panels.”
Cybertruck nods to climate change while dismissing any collective solutions to the problem. Shouldn’t we support public transit? Green public infrastructure programs? Unpaving and sprawl reduction? Reduced consumption? Accountability for the corporations who are ruining the Earth in the first place? “No,” says the Cybertruck. You merely need to purchase a warm armored blanket of individualistic protection. The unworthy (i.e. those who can’t afford Cybertruck) will merely perish.
Perhaps Cybertruck draws inspiration from the armored Hilux custom trucks that oligarchs around the world— like Elon’s apartheid-era afrikaner-mine-owner family— favor for zipping from one fortified holding to another. What are you to do when you are low-key a member of the “law & order” crowd, but you can’t be caught pulling up to the gala in anything as gauche as an armored personnel carrier? What are you to do when the gasoline is all gone and your TAG-armored Lexus pulls to an unplanned stop among the hoi polloi?
You can already buy untouchability from almost everything through wealth, but how does one purchase invulnerability from the global apocalypse that you almost definitely had a material role in instigating? Don’t worry, Cybertruck will whisk you safely from your winter bunker near Mt. Ruapehu to your summer bunker by Tolaga Bay. You may see the unwashed climate refugees along the highway, but the consequences will never reach you through the ballistic glass.