Elon Musk put up a proverbial middle finger to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this week with his announcement that Tesla vehicles would either play snake jazz or Polynesian elevator music out of an external speaker.
Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has a sense of humor that many can relate to. Although focused and relentless in his path to transitioning the world to sustainable energy, the South African native has a comedic side, which usually comes out when people least expect it.
Once again, that comedic side came out earlier this week, when Musk announced a new addition to the evergrowing arsenal of Tesla Easter eggs, if that’s what this can be referred to.
New Tesla feature coming that enables your car to play snake jazz or Polynesian elevator music through its outside speakers wherever you go
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 20, 2020
Musk announced that his cars would play the relaxing tunes often found in elevators or specific episodes of Rick and Morty, and Tesla fans fell in love with the idea. Even though it is a funny addition to the cars, there seems to be a hidden meaning behind it: Elon is trolling the NHTSA.
The NHTSA passed a mandate a decade ago called “the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010,” which states that electric vehicles must have an audible sound at speeds below 19 MPH. The noise will warm nearby pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence. Because electric cars are missing a combustion motor, the cars make very little noise, which could be a hazard to some pedestrians.
The mandate required noise, but the organization never clarified which sounds were approved or recommended. Therefore, Musk came up with his own.
Because Tesla vehicles manufactured after September 1 of last year will have to have a noise, Musk had to comply, or the company’s cars would be deemed illegal by the government agency.
So he took matters into his own hands, and it wasn’t going to be a stereotypical EV sound.
Many of the noises that EVs have adopted in other countries due to the mandate are unappealing to owners and have the sounds of futuristic hovercraft. A few members of the r/TeslaMotors subreddit stated that they didn’t buy specific vehicles because of the noises that were required if the car was traveling at a low speed.
The noises, while understandable to protect pedestrians, are usually not desirable. Rarely are the sounds reminiscent of an actual engine or motor, a case in point being the Toyota RAV4 hybrid.
Musk’s decision to utilize the tune from a lift, or in some cases, the snake jazz that Rick and Morty discovered in Season 4, Episode 5, titled, “Rattlestar Ricklatica,” is likely a move that no other automaker would take. Then again, the shoutout to Rick and Morty is close to Musk’s heart, after he appeared in an episode as “Elon Tusk, CEO of Tuskla.”
However, Musk’s unorthodox methods are more than just a way to resonate with consumer appeal; they are an indirect way of disagreeing with the mandate while remaining compliant with the safety regulations that the government agency put forth.