Cybertruck vs. The Zombie Mobile

4 Mental Traps to Avoid When Evaluating the Design of Tesla’s Truck

Adrian Hanft

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As the Cybertruck continues to blow up the internet, occasionally my Zombie Mobile story gets referenced. If you add the Cybertruck to my matrix of crossover vehicles you could come to the conclusion that the Cybertruck is the vehicle we have been asking for. Defenders of the Cybertruck’s design point at criticism of crossovers and say, “You can’t criticize the uniformity of car design and then complain when something breaks the mold.” Allow me to frame the situation differently.

The premise of my upcoming book, User Zero is that humans often lack the skills to evaluate our tools. Instead of understanding what makes one thing good and another thing bad, we resort to gut reactions based on style and brand preference. We find ourselves in situations where the quality of objects is invisible. Conversations inevitably devolve into, “If you hate/love the Cybertruck, you are a Nazi.” Is it possible to evaluate the design of the Cybertruck without resorting to tribal warfare? Here are four mental traps that you can avoid as you evaluate the Cybertruck’s design.

1. Attractiveness Bias

Is the Cybertruck Ugly? To measure the beauty of the Cybertruck you need to compare it to other beautiful objects. The fans of the Cybertruck’s aesthetic seem to be responding to its cues of the futuristic landscape we predicted in the 80s. The Cybertruck also has an early video game feel to it with its flat vector shapes and sharp angles. The spray-paint style of the Cybertruck logo, the black leather jackets of the models on stage, and the neon beams shooting from the headlights are not accidental design choices. These are deeply nostalgic triggers that will create an instant bond with anyone who is sympathetic to them. Attractiveness is always less about beauty than it is about the things the object reminds us of.

When the Prius first went into production the aesthetic backlash was similar to what the Cybertruck is enduring. Back then, the consensus seemed to be that the Prius was ugly, angular…

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Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia