Electric vehicle makers, rejoice. A recent cameo by an (admittedly fake) electric vehicle on a popular TV show passed the litmus test for cultural saturation: everyone was clearly in on the jokes about
Teslaand other EVs.
Here’s how an invented EV company featured on
“Law & Order: Organized Crime”makes the case for a corner turned—into a brave new electric world.
Setting the scene
The episode in question, titled “Nemesis,” came out on January 6, 2022. It tells the story of a cybercriminal who breaks out of high-security prison, and an elite NYPD team’s quest to track him down before he causes more e-trouble.
In one scene, Detective Elliot Stabler and Sergeant Ayanna Bell are tailing a suspected accomplice to the escaped cybercriminal. They’re staked out in front of the man’s house, waiting for him to emerge. A blue-black sedan comes out of the driveway, and Stabler remarks to Bell, “Fancy ride for an insurance analyst. What kind of car is that?”
“Innovus,” says Bell. “One of the new electric cars that’s giving Tesla a run for its money.”
“What’s a Tesla?” says Stabler, smirking.
A car chase quickly ensues, and the Innovus demonstrates some fancy precision driving as it attempts to outstrip the cops. The chase culminates in a showdown, with Stabler and Bell confronting the car with guns drawn, yelling at the driver to come out.
The car does a couple of pump fakes, and for a moment it looks like the driver may try to run down the two officers. But then the dramatic twist: the door opens, and no one is inside.
Analyzing the data
Back at the station, the cops are going over what they’ve seen. They decide that the cybercriminal accomplished this feat by hacking the car’s operating system in order to remotely control it. The tone here is somewhat ambiguous: they’re not thrown by the idea of a remote operator, but it’s still a sophisticated move to make.
This drops us squarely in our technological moment: Tesla’s full self-driving is still rife with issues, but we can’t help but be enamored of the concept, waiting on tenterhooks for updates in the technology. The sophisticated villain is also a nod to our current relationship to electric vehicles. Of course, the men who hacked the feds would have a “fancy ride,” and overriding the technology of this ride would be accessible only to people educated and skilled enough to learn it.
But it’s not all sailing over the heads of the plebeians: Stabler’s Tesla joke is very much an inside one. We live in an era of ever-increasing EV ubiquity, even as we’re still unsure of these vehicles’ inner workings.
In conclusion: Just a Camry
Elaborate analyses aside, it’s clear right away that the “Innovus” is just a Toyota Camry that’s been painted a bit. And sharp-eared fans onRedditpointed out that the noise of the engine during the chase was a bit of a dead giveaway—this is not an electric motor.
So perhaps Innovus wasn’t perfectly cast, but the good news is, new EV companies are blooming all over the place. Perhaps next time Dick Wolf can put in a call to Rivian or Alpha, and we’ll see who wins that car chase.