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This industrial designer gave Tesla’s Cybertruck a makeover

What if the Cybertruck looked more like the classic cars, like the El Camino, that it pays homage to?

This industrial designer gave Tesla’s Cybertruck a makeover
[Image: courtesy Chris Livaudais]

Tesla’s long-awaited Cybertruck was revealed last week, and the internet promptly freaked out. The car’s angular, bent steel body was highly polarizing, to say the least. Whether or not you like it, one thing is certain: It’s creating a lot of discourse around car design, and product design in general. I’ve been surprised by how many designers seem to like the design, or at least be happy to see that it exists.

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Chris Livaudais, who happens to be the executive director of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), seems like he’s in the latter camp—but slowly working his way to the former.

“Like many, I was pretty intrigued, curious, humored, puzzled, and inspired by the introduction of the Cybertruck,” he recounts over email. “I had heard that a truck was supposed to be released and had seen a bunch of speculative renders of what a Tesla truck ‘could look like.’ Then this thing rolls onstage and you think . . . is that a joke, how can they be serious, WTF? Then you look at it a bit more and you wonder, is this what the modern truck world needed? Finally, a truck that looks like the future!”

[Image: courtesy Chris Livaudais]

So over the weekend, Livaudais took to Photoshop to begin toying with the Cybertruck design for himself. He opted not to add Vaporwave detailing or Batman Tumbler aesthetics, as other fans were quick to do. Instead, what he created is the Cybertruck crossed with a more traditional pickup truck. Most notably, the bed has been opened, giving the vehicle a much more conventional pickup truck “look.”

“It is sometimes easy for a designer to look at something and think to themselves, ‘Oh, I could do that,’ or, ‘If it were me, I would have done it like this . . .'” says Livaudais. “I kept seeing the truck pop up on my feeds and in conversations, so I thought I would have a go at visually illustrating my response to it rather than verbally commenting on it.”

[Image: courtesy Chris Livaudais]

Livaudais doesn’t claim that what he’s created is better than the original; the modified truck is more of a sculptural study. He attempted to respect the production limitations of the folded metal body: The original side profile has two facets, to which he added a third to break up the large polygon and create a new detail for door handles. He redrew the bottom skirt of the car, making it parallel to the facet above. And he added conventional rear taillights—the sort of detail that Tesla might have to add to its full-production Cybertruck anyway.

It almost looks like an option that Tesla could offer. “My first instinct was to ‘cut off’ the pyramid top of the truck,” Livaudais admits. “But flattening off the top would also make it look like a traditional truck, which was clearly not Tesla’s intent in the first place. After dropping in a line to create a more traditional truck bed area, I decided to keep the pyramid top as a compromise. The pyramid top is after all one of the defining features of the side silhouette.”

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That said, the design probably isn’t feasible, from a perspective of towing. Most analysis has concluded that those triangles over the truck bed—which Livaudais has removed—are actually vital for the towing capacity, just as they were in the funky, original Honda Ridgeline pickup, with its similarly unconventional, unibody construction. However, the modification probably does save a lot of weight, given that the Cybertruck’s steel body is 3 millimeters thick.

Musk has admitted that Tesla is likely to release a smaller version of the Cybertruck in the future. And given that a lot of us are more interested in Costco runs than towing boats, who knows? Maybe an electric El Camino is in our future after all.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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