Few car designers have a portfolio like Frank Stephenson. He’s designed a massive array of iconic modern vehicles, from the reborn Mini and Fiat 500 to the Ferrari F-430 and McLaren P1. He’s an expert on car design, which is why he’s launched a YouTube channel this year to analyze different designs, new and old. One of the boldest designs of recent years is the Tesla Cybertruck. Its wedge-like appearance is possibly the most polarizing of all time, and Stephenson isn’t on the positive side.
He opens with an analogy to classic video games, explaining how the Cybertruck design will likely become dated in the near future. The PlayStation 1 was groundbreaking at the time, with graphics that seemed so futuristic they could never get better. But compared to what we have now, they are almost laughably unrealistic. The Tesla Cybertruck, Stephenson says, will likely follow a similar path.
Another comment he makes is about the Cybertruck’s disconnect to the natural world. It’s well documented that Stephenson is a major advocate for the ideas of biomimicry in car design, drawing inspiration from nature from things like animals to how the wind shapes sand. For example, the side profile of the McLaren P1 is inspired by a cheetah running. Millions of years have gone into making natural elements what they are, so implementing them into car design creates a timeless appearance.
Nothing in the Tesla Cybertruck design is timeless, says Stephenson, inside or out. In fact, he goes as far as to say the inorganic nature of the truck makes it inherently un-environmental. The stark interior and numerous security features of the Cybertruck paint Tesla’s vision of the future as something people need to protect themselves from and disconnect themselves from.
It’s indisputable that we need to address the climate concerns that face our planet, and Tesla believes EVs are one way to do just that. But if their grounding principles are saving the environment, Stephenson says he finds it odd that their vision of the future would try to protect and separate you from it. He says that highlights the insecurity of the design. Stephenson’s almost academic interpretation of design is fascinating to listen to in the video.
While Frank Stephenson doesn’t bring this up in his video, one of the main competitors to the Tesla Cybertruck is the Rivian R1T. That vehicle, still an inherently boxy pickup, is far more organically designed, and its selling points are to let its customers protect and experience nature for years to come. Time will tell which EV pickup has a more accurate vision of the future, but one is certainly more inviting.