Fresh off the heels of CEO Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, Tesla recently unveiled a new model of their popular electric vehicle aimed at commemorating the occasion. The Tesla Model S-NL includes a number of exclusive features, which will allow drivers to relive some of the lowest moments in American comedy history every time they get behind the wheel.
At first glance, the new edition is virtually indistinguishable from a normal Tesla Model S. This is owed largely to the vehicle’s accelerated production cycle, which in keeping with SNL tradition, was conceived, designed, and produced in five days by a team of comedy writers. The exterior has the same sleek profile and aggressively squinty headlights but makes a subtle nod to Musk with a new rectangular strip of LED lights installed just between the headlights that displays the plummeting price of cryptocurrency every time the CEO tweets. This way, the rapid decline can not only spur an SEC investigation but can also give the LEDs the brightness necessary to cut through even the densest fog.
Other changes are evident as soon as you get behind the wheel. The Model S-NL, for example, won’t start until you watch the entirety of Musk’s SNL monologue on the 8-inch dashboard display. The vehicle uses an array of audio sensors to monitor the passenger cabin for laughter and will only start once the vehicle detects 3.5 guffaws, 7 snickers, or one genuine belly laugh.
While these numbers might seem arbitrary, they’re in fact carefully determined by Musk himself using a proprietary formula the Tesla chief calls the Genuine Human Enjoyment Index Analysis Version 3.501 (Earth Formula). On particularly cold days, the model S-NL’s lithium-ion battery requires a little more encouragement to get started, with the vehicle asking drivers to share what their favorite part of the monologue was and why, before the digital ignition will turn over.
“If a one-off edition themed around a single episode of a 90-minute late-night comedy program might seem a little niche, then you’re clearly one of these people who just doesn’t ‘get’ Tesla and Musk’s vision,” says Josh Sargent, avowed Tesla fanboy, aspiring driver and equipment manager of his middle school’s girl’s JV basketball team.
“It’s not even that hard. Just make a Reddit account, buy all the mango-flavored vape cartridges you can get your hands on, and binge Joe Rogan podcasts until he starts to seem like more of a genius than a troll,” the 14-year-old says. “Just ignore the part of Weekend Update when he said crypto was a hustle, he um, didn’t mean that.”
The Tesla’s navigation system also sees an overhaul on the Model S-NL Edition. Here, the automaker once again defers to its enigmatic leader, providing driving directions that are more Musk’s impression of the best way to get from Point A to B rather than a boring old concrete, GPS-based formula. “It provides directions with an elevated sense of self-confidence that’s unique to a particular subset of trust fund billionaires who buy out the rights to other people’s creations and call themselves inventors,” says Greg Kahn, spokesperson at Tesla.
The level of “disruption” Musk and other tech CEOs aim to bring to the established industry might rub some the wrong way, but Kahn says these are just growing pains on the way to a brighter, more corporate-friendly future.
“You can do things the way they’ve always been done, or you can flip the whole industry on its head,” Khan says. “Sure, it might not be as “good” or “accurate” as some of our competitors, but here at Tesla, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, which is good because our drivers rarely end up where they intend on going,” he says.
While the Model S-NL is powered by the same 100 kWh 350 V lithium-ion found in other Teslas, the limited edition gets a boost from a new type of groundbreaking motor that’s able to convert raw human emotion into a sustainable form of energy. Used to power the Tesla’s heated seats, the Empathy Resonance Module is able to produce 20 kWh of electricity solely by harvesting the awkwardness generated by Musk’s use of Gen Z slang in one SNL sketch. Dread sliding into a frosty seat on a cold February morning? Just picture the words “sus,” “lit,” and “no cap” emerging from the mouth of a 49-year-old South African billionaire on live television, and your seats will be glowing red hot in no time.
In recent years SNL has increasingly been the senior play of late-night TV, where real actors with any talent or capacity for subtly are shunted aside for the quarterbacks and prom queens looking for one last moment in the sun before they start their career at their dad’s landscaping company. With the Model S-NL, Tesla is crystalizing that moment in automotive form, allowing well-heeled drivers the chance to experience just what buying your way into the limelight can feel like.