YouTuber Simone Giertz is known as the queen of “shitty robots,” the kind of robots that make a mess of chopping vegetables, serving soup, cutting hair, writing holiday cards, and wiping your nether regions. Her inventions are clever, intentionally excessive and comically inept. Hilarity ensues; Giertz curses, to the chagrin of her advertisers. But she keeps churning out machines as well as videos, exploring a variety of building projects in her San Francisco workshop––even as she battles a brain tumor.
Which makes Giertz’s newest project even more remarkable—and unexpectedly functional. It marks a kind of turning point for Giertz, who says she’d like to focus more on building cars, and not the shitty kind. Today, she revealed an electric pickup truck she calls Truckla. It’s a heavily modified Tesla Model 3 and, as Giertz’s stylized promotional video states, it’s available exactly nowhere. Only Giertz will drive it, but she insists it is indeed drivable. (She’s also publishing a 31-minute video detailing how she built it.)
Giertz, who’s Swedish, says the EV pickup truck has been a dream of hers ever since she got her US driver’s license a couple of years ago. Elon Musk has been working on an official version: Last week, the Tesla CEO said the “cyberpunk truck” will make its official debut “probably some time towards the end of summer,” though the man isn’t much for hitting deadlines. Giertz decided not to wait. If there was ever a subtweet, going out and building the thing before Elon Musk managed to might just be the ultimate.
Around this time last year, Giertz partnered with a friend, engineer Marcos Ramirez, to start sketching out what a Model 3-turned-pickup-truck would look like. Two other YouTubers, Laura Kampf and Rich Rebuilds, got involved. Other friends and family pitched in on the project in exchange for “high fives and food,” Giertz says. Their initial goal was to launch Truckla by the fall of 2018.
Lauren Goode is a senior writer at WIRED who covers consumer technology.
Then Giertz’s noncancerous brain tumor returned, after it was previously removed through surgery. She underwent several weeks of radiation therapy early in 2019, some of which she has vlogged about on YouTube and Patreon. During that time, she continued to work on both “Shitty Robots” and the Truckla.
“One of the initial designs we had was to essentially strip everything from the midway and back, and just put in a flatbed,” Giertz says. “There are a lot of trucks that look like that, with a chassis up front and then a bare bones flatbed. But I didn’t like the look of that. So we decided to salvage as much of the back half as possible and try to build it into more of an El Camino pickup truck.”
Giertz says the EV made for an easier conversion than an internal combustion engine-powered car, because the battery adds structural integrity. The team did have to add some reinforcement to the beams at the top of the truck, which will allow it to hold together and “not, just, taco,” Giertz says. “I mean, I love tacos, but a Tesla taco would not be the best investment.” She plans to do some additional waterproofing to protect the battery pack. The Truckla is “usable now, but fully drivable in July,” Giertz says.
“This is going to be my daily car, which in some ways is fucking stupid,” Giertz says. Her other ride, which she refers to as Cheese Louise, is a yellow Sebring-Vanguard Citicar, and is easily recognized. “I said, the next car I get, I need to get a very anonymous car like a Prius, so I can park it outside of my house and workshop,” she says.
“And then I realized, this is not that car.”