Tesla Model 3: Elon Musk Used ‘Monty Python’ to Give Car Its Unique Sound
Would you prefer your Tesla Model 3 to sound “woody” or “tinny”? For Elon Musk, it was imperative that engineers achieved the former rather than the latter. The CEO confirmed on Twitter Thursday that he stopped meetings to play clips from Monty Python’s Flying Circus to communicate the goal when developing the company’s mass market electric vehicle.
A report published Thursday, describing Musk’s unusual managerial style, claimed that he would regularly interrupt meetings to show people clips from the 1970s British sketch comedy. A particular favorite was a clip from season four, where an upper-class family discusses the merits of “woody” words like “sausage,” “gourd” and “bound,” dismissing words like “antelope” as “a tinny sort of word.” The Wired report claims that Musk “would play it more than once, laughing uproariously each time, as his colleagues waited to return to the issues at hand.” On Twitter, Musk said: “This part is true. I was trying to explain that we don’t want our cars to have a “tinny” sound.”
Musk had mentioned his plan to take inspiration from the sketch before. In July 2017, he tweeted that it’s “very important that nothing sounds tinny.” Musk’s Twitter feed is peppered with such references, though, and it was unclear before now whether he had relayed his request to internal staff. Tesla has included references to pop culture in its vehicles before, like the “Ludicrous” mode that takes its inspiration from ‘80s sci-fi comedy Spaceballs.
The report also revealed how Musk’s high-tech factory was influenced by a sci-fi dream. When the $35,000 Model 3 went on pre-order in the summer of 2016, Tesla racked up nearly seven times more orders than it expected, reaching 325,000 users. The company had only produced 150,000 vehicles in its entire history, but Musk came to his team with a vision of a fully-automated factory that looked like “an unstoppable alien dreadnought.” The high degree of automation greatly slowed down production, and Tesla ultimately changed course in April.
With Tesla hard at work on the second-generation Roadster, due for launch in 2020, there’s perhaps further scope to introduce more “woody” sounds. Tesla has already confirmed that the car will feature a Spaceballs reference, with a “Plaid” performance mode referenced in the film as one step above “Ludicrous.”
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