Tesla's Cybertruck made waves when it debuted last year with a futuristic name and an angular, stainless steel body that looks like nothing else on the road. Polarizing as the truck may be, it has managed to rack up hundreds of thousands of reservations — but legendary car designer Frank Stephenson isn't convinced.
Stephenson has designed high-end cars for Ferrari, McLaren, and Maserati, along with more everyday vehicles for BMW, Mini, and Fiat. He criticized the Cybertruck as "sterile" and lacking character in a December 10 video on his automotive design-focused YouTube channel.
Stephenson thinks that good design should reflect the natural world around it, and his main issue with the Cybertruck is that, to his eye, its heavy, angular design rejects nature, rather than embracing it.
"The Cybertruck feels cold and isolated like a Mars rover that is protecting you from an almost externally inhospitable environment, yet it cannot protect you from the lifelessness of the outdoors as it somehow still finds a way to seep in," Stephenson said.
The pickup's security features — bulletproof windows and dent-proof panels — are built for a future where people want to shut themselves off from nature, rather than welcome it, he noted, adding that the truck's design contradicts the sustainable and environmentally-friendly message an electric car should send.
"The Cybertruck feels sterile and anti-environmentalist… which for an electric and sustainable vehicle feels counterintuitive," Stephenson said. "It makes the design come across as a bit of a costume, making the whole thing feel almost gimmicky."
He brings up the 2020 Buick Electra and the 1980 Citroen Karin concepts as examples of vehicles that look futuristic, but feel organic, inviting, and comfortable, as compared with the "brutality" of the Cybertruck. The curvy, sculpted Electra makes Tesla's pickup seem "almost repulsive," according to Stephenson.
The Cybertruck may feel cutting-edge now, but Stephenson believes it will quickly become dated. He likened it to early PlayStation 1 video game graphics, which seemed realistic at the time, but look low-quality by today's standards.
"If technological progress does not march into the future hand in hand with nature, then it is not progress at all," he said.
Watch Stephenson's critique of the Cybertruck below: