Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
man-sits-in-a-spaceship-car-and-flies-to-the-planet-with-a-sunset-in-space-space-travel-by-car-concept-driver-behind-the-wheel-interplanetary-taxi-in-space-creative-idea-stockpack-adobe-stock
Man sits in a spaceship car and flies to the planet with a sunset in space. Space travel by car, concept. Driver behind the wheel. Interplanetary taxi in space, creative idea

Ford Calls Out Exaggerated Musk Claims in Epic Twitter Troll

Automakers are beginning to respond to Musk with mockery and satire

Elon Musk has long been making strange claims about Tesla’s future plans for vehicles. At Mind Matters News, we have documented extensively his continually-changing claims about Teslas being able to be used as robotaxis. This is especially important to consumers of these products, as Tesla is charging customers $10,000 for future functionality that may never exist.

We have largely ignored other claims from Musk as it is sometimes difficult to tell when Musk is being serious or when he is just joking around. This can be problematic, however, since Musk has listed his Twitter account as being a source of official company communications. Not being able to tell if a given message is an official corporate communication or just a funny troll has caused a lot of confusion in the market.

For instance, Musk has claimed that an option package for the Roadster will include SpaceX thrusters to increase its 0-60 time. This is not the first time he’s made that claim. In 2018, Musk said in a Tweet, “SpaceX option package for new Tesla Roadster will include ~10 small rocket thrusters arranged seamlessly around car. These rocket engines dramatically improve acceleration, top speed, braking & cornering. Maybe they will even allow a Tesla to fly…”

Whether or not Musk was joking, the tweet was taken seriously by a large percentage of the media, including Popular MechanicsNewsweek, and many others. Elon Musk has himself recently doubled down on the claims about flying, saying that the new Roadster “will actually be able to fly very briefly. I always laughed at flying cars & now making one.”

This talk about SpaceX thrusters and flying cars prompted a question to Ford’s Product Communications director, Mike Levine. A customer asked, probably tongue-in-cheek, “Mike, what’s Ford’s official assessment on the average truck customer’s demand for Rocket Thrusters and Dogecoin? Asking for a friend.”

Levine responded in a satirical tone, saying that they are planning on adding thrusters to the tailgates of their cars to make the tailgate open faster. Levine even included a humorous drawing to illustrate the concept, and said that “each thruster will be paid for in doge”.

Because of his haphazard communication style, it is impossible to know for certain what Musk is or isn’t planning for a real Roadster release, or even if the second generation roadster will exist at all. However, it is interesting to see automakers start changing their view and respond to Musk’s futuristic claims from a point of mockery and derision rather than respect. 


Jonathan Bartlett

Senior Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Jonathan Bartlett is a senior software R&D engineer at Specialized Bicycle Components, where he focuses on solving problems that span multiple software teams. Previously he was a senior developer at ITX, where he developed applications for companies across the US. He also offers his time as the Director of The Blyth Institute, focusing on the interplay between mathematics, philosophy, engineering, and science. Jonathan is the author of several textbooks and edited volumes which have been used by universities as diverse as Princeton and DeVry.

Ford Calls Out Exaggerated Musk Claims in Epic Twitter Troll