Elon Musk’s next product is looking hot. The founder of The Boring Company, a tunnel-digging venture that’s planning hyperloop-ready transit lines, announced on Thursday that the company’s branded $500 “not-a-flamethrower” will start shipping to customers in just two weeks. Musk has faced a number of regulatory hurdles to get the product off the ground, which has led to a rather unusual delivery method.
At a live-streamed presentation held at the Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Musk and executive Steve Davis delved into details about the company’s plan to build a 2.7-mile tunnel in Los Angeles. In the question-and-answer session, Musk explained that the flamethrower the company started selling late January “encountered some delivery challenges…I guess they don’t like it if you don’t ship things with propane, but we have a solution,” detailing how the company would offer “custom delivery to your house or business with a Boring Company delivery van.”
It’s been a long journey for the tongue-in-cheek product. Musk initially started selling branded hats at $20 a pop, limited to 50,000 units, as a way of initially funding the venture he set up after getting stuck in traffic in December 2016. Musk claimed the hats came from a scene in ‘80s sci-fi comedy Spaceballs, where Yogurt (played by Mel Brooks) explains how the film got its funding from merchandising lunchboxes, t-shirts and flamethrowers. In keeping with this joke, Musk started taking orders for flame-shooting rifles limited to 20,000 units, which sold out in just four days.
As expected, the flamethrower has faced some regulatory opposition. Musk wrote on his Twitter page in February that “some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a ‘Flamethrower’,” so Musk renamed the product to “not a flamethrower.” Buyers of the product received a Google Form with terms and conditions last week that asked them to not use the device for impressing romantic interests, instead suggesting a good use may be for cooking crème brûlée:
Deliveries are set to start in just two weeks, but with a twist. Davis said during the question-and-answer that he would personally deliver the products alongside Boring Company employee Jen.
A playful product that builds on an obscure reference to a sci-fi comedy has transformed into one of The Boring Company’s first major projects. With the Boring Company securing a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it may not be long before the company’s tunnels take more focus.