Tesla Cybertruck: Is it daring or dumb? Design experts weigh in

ajdelange

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I had no real understanding of the difference between designing and engineering. I thought they were virtually one in the same.
The designer is the guy that says "A truck that looks like a wedge of cheese would be really cool and sell like hotcakes." makes a model and shows it to people. If management likes the concept they call in the engineers and ask if they can build it at reasonable cost with reasonable performance and safety etc. IOW the engineers implement the designer's vision. Often the engineer forces the designer to vary some aspect of his design. For example he might tell the designer that he must make the wedge leding angle more accute in order to get drag coefficient down. They would then work together to come up with a design that meets the engineer's technical requirements and the desinger's aesthetic ones.

Perhaps some confusion arises because while the designer is thought of as the creative one, i.e. the artist, the engineer is an artist as well and equally creative. His job is to design the car beneath the skin by coming up with a synthesis of silicon, steel, lithium, plastic... and algorithms that works, is safe, easy to operate and looks good. The engineer spends many hours engaged in "design reviews" in which the topic of discussion may be whether to continue to use the off the shelf Texas Instruments DSP chips or source something new. Or there may be discussion of some nuance of body shape which will trim a pound or 2 of drag. WRT to the former the "designer" wouldn't know what these guys were talking about. WRT the latter he might not understand much about turbulent vs laminar flow but would certainly be interested in how the shape of the vehicle would change. It is pulling all this stuff together that makes producing a product that will be judged on both its technical and aesthetic merits (or lack thereof) so challenging.





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Saskateam

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With the CT, there was a dedicated team from the start of engineering and design. My guess is this was designed and engineered simultaneously. Elon is the chief engineer and I think he had a list of wants based on his engineering understanding. This is the result of an engineer asking a designer to build something. Much like the first iPhone.
 

ajdelange

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Clearly it was as it must be thus. I believe the head "designer" was E. Musk. As he has engineering talent as well he would have had insight as to roughly how far he could go in his vision without running afoul of the laws of physics. Once satisfied that he wasn't smoking something he would involve his design and engineering teams (though, I'm sure, he was and will be, present at every design review).
 

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IMO...

They are basically talking about aesthetics, and that the CT is scary looking and lacks finesse. No about the functionality or engineering superiority.

The CT put design at the end of the priorities. They accomplished their engineering and cost management goals with geometry (triangles rock!) and materials (no paint shop).

Somewhere along the line the strategy produced something resembling a vehicle, and from there you start tweaking the design only so much that the existing framework holds. There probably wasn’t much that could be done, frankly. And thats when the project team starts saying “f-it, it’s gonna look radical regardless, so let’s continue to focus on function.” (only possible when the CEO respects and encourages that attitude, mind you).

The “scary design” argument reminds me of the assault weapon argument. Scary black rifles...military-style...all those arguments are silly with the exception of magazine capacity, which is a function argument, not design.

People see what they see. If they wrapped a CT in flower covered skin, maybe that would change. But as a closet engineer, I see awesome engineering and radical design as a byproduct, and it appeals to me. The function over form.

The artsy folks looking for creative nuance are disappointed. Those same folks likely have industrial-themed condos even though they haven’t ever worked in a factory. It's easy to dismiss the CT design as “lazy” if you’re all about looks. They probably admire more the banana taped to a wall.

But some, like me, see the creativity being extreme, due to lack of conventionality. They never let the “curve design expert” in the room after a certain point. That makes me think deeper than a new improved grille design...I see a car/company leading the charge away from the trite and towards impact. Beauty in raw function.

Put a police camera on a corner. Call it a “citizen surveillance cam” and everyone hates it. Call it a “community safety assurance cam” and everyone likes it. Get over your military/prepper/malitia fears...this is TESLA, remember? Saving the environment and all?...

The deep thinkers aren’t thinking deep enough.
 

Saskateam

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I don’t get art anyways. I do not look at a car and see the difference in curves or dimensions or the empty space or the tension in the piece. I either like it or I don’t. It is how the overall makes me feel.
I agree that there are some aspects that the designers had. Look at the dash. It does not need to look like marble but it does. That is design over engineering. There could be truth in the need to have 3 mm stainless steel to reduce the warp in the metal over the flat surface, however is that a result of the design or is it the result of the engineering, I do not know. Most vehicles curve into the bottom. Is this for design or is it to catch road grime and keep it from hitting higher on the vehicle. I don’t know but a designer set the l curve look verse a square look. The CT uses a flat angle to accomplish this. Design or Engineering I don’t know. Mobile art? To me yes. I get a good feeling when I look at the CT.
 

ajdelange

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I don’t get art anyways.

To me yes. I get a good feeling when I look at the CT.
But you do get art. Remember what Duke Ellington said about music: "If it sounds good it is good".
 

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OK A complete curve ball for just a moment, The Joke:
How do you make five lbs of fat look attractive?
Answer: You put a nipple on it.
That's what The Tesla Utility Vehicle is.
Its created to do something. Period. That is how military machines are created. The Government puts out a set of parameters and military businesses create what they want based on a set of parameters. Nothing is ever, "Make it attractive." Or for that matter, "Make it military looking."
And that is exactly why the Tesla Vehicle looks like it was made for the military. It was engineered to be something, nit designed to look like something. The emphasis is on doing, not being. Only at the end of it all were the designers allowed to influence what it is, and then without reducing what it can do.
it isn't semantics I am arguing... the Tesla Utility Vehicle was Engineered, not designed.
Tesla is "Here it is, it is what it is. We aren't changing it to make it look like anyone thinks it should look. It came out of its Momma just as you see it.
(And now I laugh, because I feel that those that think it might be dramatically different looking and functioning by the time it rolls off the assembly line might be right.)
 

ajdelange

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I quoted Duke Ellington a couple of posts back, Now I'm going to quote Steve Jobs. When told that Apple needed to make products that people wanted he reportedly replied "They don't know what they want until I tell them what they want." That's what's happened with the CT. The initial reaction was gasps. I remember thinking to myself that Scaringe was going to sleep like a baby the night of the reveal. Next day I showed the pictures to the family and we all had a good laugh. The day after that I was fumbling for my credit card. How many tales like mine have I seen here?
 

ajdelange

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There is no parallel between government procurement and the CT project. To the shareholders of Tesla the main requirement is that a prudent man would hand over his money in order to obtain one of the cars/trucks. There is no such requirement in a government project.
 

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There are many tradeoffs between optimizing function, design, market appeal, price, unit costs, tooling costs, durability, time to market, and competitive positioning,
 

Saskateam

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The price point also indicated not much design involved. Engineering is a price reduction activity, design in automotive is a price increase activity.
 

ajdelange

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There is clearly a huge amount of engineering design work required. And that's OK as it is largely NRE. They have to engineer a new "chassis". They are probably working with new battery chemistry. The battery cooling system design is reportedly new (no cold plates). Increased weight and size will require extensive software engineering (to manage new vehicle dynamics). Etc. They will, of course, reuse as much of the design of earlier vehichle's hardware/firmware/software as they can.
 

OCS12

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IMO...

They are basically talking about aesthetics, and that the CT is scary looking and lacks finesse. No about the functionality or engineering superiority.

The CT put design at the end of the priorities. They accomplished their engineering and cost management goals with geometry (triangles rock!) and materials (no paint shop).

Somewhere along the line the strategy produced something resembling a vehicle, and from there you start tweaking the design only so much that the existing framework holds. There probably wasn’t much that could be done, frankly. And thats when the project team starts saying “f-it, it’s gonna look radical regardless, so let’s continue to focus on function.” (only possible when the CEO respects and encourages that attitude, mind you).

The “scary design” argument reminds me of the assault weapon argument. Scary black rifles...military-style...all those arguments are silly with the exception of magazine capacity, which is a function argument, not design.

People see what they see. If they wrapped a CT in flower covered skin, maybe that would change. But as a closet engineer, I see awesome engineering and radical design as a byproduct, and it appeals to me. The function over form.

The artsy folks looking for creative nuance are disappointed. Those same folks likely have industrial-themed condos even though they haven’t ever worked in a factory. It's easy to dismiss the CT design as “lazy” if you’re all about looks. They probably admire more the banana taped to a wall.

But some, like me, see the creativity being extreme, due to lack of conventionality. They never let the “curve design expert” in the room after a certain point. That makes me think deeper than a new improved grille design...I see a car/company leading the charge away from the trite and towards impact. Beauty in raw function.

Put a police camera on a corner. Call it a “citizen surveillance cam” and everyone hates it. Call it a “community safety assurance cam” and everyone likes it. Get over your military/prepper/malitia fears...this is TESLA, remember? Saving the environment and all?...

The deep thinkers aren’t thinking deep enough.
I’m with you. As an engineer, I see this as a truck built with one goal. Be better than the competition, but keep it affordable. I’m okay with function over form in a truck. I’ll happily accept every dollar saved in avoiding endless plastic “chrome” if it means getting a proper truck at a reasonable price. This thing was never meant to look pretty.
 

Sirfun

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I drove a 63 Ranchero for almost 20 years. That pick-up was cute. I can't ever imagine someone describing a Cybertruck as cute. I honestly think that was a major part of the design concept. It has to look tough, masculine, possibly even brutal.
 

OCS12

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I drove a 63 Ranchero for almost 20 years. That pick-up was cute. I can't ever imagine someone describing a Cybertruck as cute. I honestly think that was a major part of the design concept. It has to look tough, masculine, possibly even brutal.
I’m not sure who in their right mind would go with “cute.” I can respect “ugly,” but cute doesn’t make sense. Then again, my little track toy is often referred to as “cute” and it repeatedly embarrasses much pricier cars on track days. Maybe cute isn’t so bad.
 

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