Elon Musk's flamethrowers are not what they seem

Jack Gill dons his flame retardant suite to investigate this bizarre fire sale.

Jack Gill
12th February 2018
The Boring Company's 'Not a Flamethrower'. (The Boring Company Fire Extinguisher is sold separately).

If you were to analyse some of Elon Musk’s personal traits, comparing them with fellow billionaires, you may be quick to notice some similarities. From the technical innovativeness of Peter Thiel (Paypal), to the brash confidence of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), the Tesla and Boring Company founder has acquired a somewhat cult following over recent years. One could account this to his zany personality, his plans to have humans living on Mars by 2024 is just one of his wide-eyed plans. Thus, it should be of no surprise that his recent ventures include selling $50,000 worth of black Boring Company caps, and launching his own Tesla roadster into space on his 230 foot high rocket aptly titled “The Falcon Heavy”. His most recent endeavour? Selling flamethrowers for $500. Yes, flamethrowers.

The Boring Company has taken a step away from its original function, which was to provide underground tunnels to reduce congestion, and instead liken their marketplace to that of an equally quirky streetwear brand like Supreme. With regard to flamethrowers themselves, they are more of an oversized blowtorch, and are almost equal parts roof torch and air rifle.

Therefore, it is perhaps fitting that the intervention of several customs agencies, forbidding the shipment of anything titled a ‘flamethrower’, have provoked Musk to change their name. Their new name? A myriad of increasingly snidey titles ranging from ‘Not a flamethrower’, to ‘Temperature Enhancement Device’, as Musk eloquently tweeted last Thursday in response.

The gun conveniently abides with California Law regarding the distribution of flame throwing device

Jokes aside, Musk is essentially creating a stylised weapon. The idea that anyone could distribute a device allowing for the projection of flames, albeit within a ten feet range, to customers is concerning. When the majority of these customers live in trigger-happy America, masked in its lenient gun laws, further concerns are raised.

Some bookies at BetDSI have even placed predictions of mid-April as to when authorities will start receiving reports of misuse. In its small fire range, a measly tenth the distance of military-grade flamethrowers, the gun conveniently abides with California Law regarding the distribution of flame throwing devices. Once more, the device seemingly evades categorisation as a weapon, and appears more worryingly as a utility item.


Yet, to place the creation in the field of utility would be somewhat undermining Musk’s real purpose of creating the flamethrower. For distraction. A distraction, that is, from the shortcomings of his main project, Tesla.

In the whole of the fourth quarter of 2017, Tesla manufactured 2,425 cars, a minute statistic when compared to their goal of 5,000 cars produced per week. Furthermore, much like Musk’s propane-fuelled torch, Tesla is burning through an estimated billion dollars per quarter to maintain its construction of the ever-troublesome ‘Tesla Model 3’, to which has been plagued by numerous problems including the efficiency of its Gigafactory battery production.

The Boring Company has sold its 20,000 units of the flamethrower

With all this taken into account, Musk’s side-project appears more as a clever PR stunt, a neat diversion from Tesla’s less than promising 2018 forecast.

In its first week, the Boring Company has sold its 20,000 units of the flamethrower, raising an estimated $10 million for Musk to seemingly invest in his “personal hobby” of underground tunnel digging.

However, with alarm bells ringing in the Tesla headquarters, the question begs as to whether some of the revenue could be allocated elsewhere. This being said, is Musk’s recent stunt enough to extinguish the trouble ahead?

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