This startup wants to build an Ikea-style SUV Elon Musk can drive on Mars

Partisan One for Elon Musk

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk is about to send a first-generation Roadster into orbit around Mars aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket. It’s a red car for the red planet, he explained. With a relatively small amount of ground clearance and a cramped cabin that betrays its Lotus origins, the Roadster is ill-suited to actually driving on the surface of Mars. When that time comes, and it will soon if you ask Musk, a German startup named Partisan Motors volunteered to provide the pioneering mission with transportation.

Partisan announced a special version of the One designed with Mars exploration in mind. While the original One came with a gasoline-burning engine, the aptly named Mars Edition goes electric with a pre-charged battery pack that zaps four in-wheel motors into motion. The firm hasn’t released technical specifications such as how fast the SUV can go or, importantly, how long it can drive on a single charge. It points out the hood, the roof, and the door skins are carbon fiber panels that incorporate solar panels which send electricity to the battery pack.

With more angles than a shoe box, the One looks like a vehicle built by a 12-year-old with an incomplete K’Nex kit. That’s intentional; it’s the purest expression of function over form. The brand is so confident in its box-like SUV that it plans on offering a 100-year warranty as soon as production begins. If the One goes to Mars, honoring the warranty will likely involve setting up the red planet’s very first repair facility.

If nothing else, the One is an interesting take on the decades-old idea of an exploration vehicle designed specifically for outer space. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) zig-zagged across the surface of the moon during the last three Apollo missions. The One is different because, according to Partisan, it’s cheap to build and cheap to transport. The firm points out its vehicle comes in kit form, Ikea-style. Musk and his crew will be able to quickly assemble a fleet of Ones with basic tools as soon as they get to Mars.

In case you’re wondering, we didn’t publish our April Fool’s story a couple of months early. Partisan is serious; it even proposed testing the One on the surface of the Moon before sending it all the way to Mars. Though famously outspoken, Musk has not responded to Partisan Motors’ proposal. Something tells us he will prefer building his own exploration vehicle rather than buying one from someone else.