Back in 2004, when I was in the eighth grade, Sony launched their first portable gaming device, the PSP. I was so stoked at the time, because compared to what Nintendo had to offer, the PSP seemed amazing. The power of a PS2 in the palm of your hand? Where do I sign up?!
One of the first games that I bought for my brand new PSP was something called Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition. Up until this point, I had never owned a racing game. Sure, I was familiar with them, having played Mario Kart, Cruisin' USA and Diddy Kong Racing, but I had never actually owned one. Needless to say, I was hooked. I knew very little about the whole world of cars, and the subsequent market of aftermarket parts and mods, but Midnight Club was a game that really stuck with me.
I recently found my PSP, and it still had my copy of Midnight Club inside of it, so I fired it up, and drove around for a little while aimlessly. The controls were still incredibly tight, and it felt great. Then I went into my garage, to see what other cars I had. A 2003 Chrysler 300C, a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, and Lotus Elise. Quickly going over their stats and parts I realized something two things. One, I still know very little when it comes to cars, and two, that I despite having loved this racing game, I still don't really care about cars.
I think both of those stem from the fact that when I was growing up, my family only had one car, and that was a thoroughly un-sexy minivan. It never spoke to me in the same way that other technology did. I never could understand how some of my friends could pop open the hood of their car and ogle at the engine for hours. I never got into all the parts, and how the connected and worked together. To this day, even after buying my own car, I still tend to think of automobiles as magic metal boxes strapped onto four wheels powered by exploding dinosaur juices.
And that's how it's been for me. Sure, I can appreciate an antique, like a '57 Chevy Bel-Air, or a '55 Ford Thunderbird (those tailfins though, hnnng), but beyond the sheer aesthetics of the vehicles, I have no interest in them. Recently, that changed because of one company in particular.
I've written about Tesla, and its CEO Elon Musk, in the past, and my love for him and the company only grows with every announcement. That's not the entire story though. Musk, and his company, Tesla, have done something that I never thought possible - they got me to care about cars, more importantly, electric vehicles. Having studied Environmental Politics in university, and being a 100% out-of-the-closet confirmed nerd, Tesla and Musk speak to me in the same way that Midnight Club 3 for the PSP spoke to me - it lets me nerd out in a way I normally wouldn't be able to. And this is primarily due to the fact that Tesla functions as a tech company that just so happens to be in the business of making cars.
The thing with Tesla is that the cars they make are more than just cars. They're the future of the entire automobile industry, a multi-billion dollar bet that is beginning to prove successful. Tesla is the future of technology, taking a tried and trued design philosophy, and improving upon it. Tesla's vehicles are the first truly modern cars that have me excited. Oooh, Bugatti has a new car that can go like super fast. Yeah, that's great and all, but it's not practical. It's not the car that I know is within my reach. It's not the car that I'll be able to know how it works inside and out. It's not a car that gets me excited for the future.
When Musk announced the long awaited $35,000 Model 3, I told my dad that my next car is going to be a Tesla made car. That's the first time he and I ever really discussed cars, because up until recently, I didn't care. He told me to wait until EV technology matured, and while I tend to agree with him, in this case, I can't wait. I want to help play a part in making that future a reality now. I want to help lead an environmentally conscious life in an affordable manner. I want to be able to vote with my wallet in a way that will help impact the industry in a positive, meaningful manner. But more than any of that, I want to be able to look at my car, and know exactly how it works, from the software being used to the hardware powering it. And right now, as I look at my car outside my window, parked in my driveway covered in snow, I feel none of that hopeful anticipation. All I see is a magical metal box, strapped onto four wheels powered by exploding dinosaur juices, and not the future.