On Tesla:

Balancing sustainable car connectivity, silent lethality and luxury surveillance


  • Yarin Eski Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Marc Schuilenburg Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam / Erasmus University Rotterdam


Tesla, luxury surveillance, autonomous cars, aspirational class, big data


This article analyses the increasingly influential role of tech companies in designing and deploying smart surveillance
in private vehicles. Using the case of Tesla, a company that makes optimistic promises and has a hopeful vision for more
sustainable electric cars by decreasing the ecological footprint, the article will discuss the problematic aspects of artificial
intelligence, big data and algorithms for total surveillance by private companies. In particular, light will be shed on the
issue of discourses on sustainable and smart vehicles that dim the light on the problematic aspects of luxury surveillance.
As will be made clear, Tesla’s green and lean – aspirational – ambitions through different technological and surveillance
advancements revive old forms of control and introduce a new set of power/knowledge relations. Beyond the question
of privacy and personal data harvesting, this article discusses the wider social and political consequences of smart car
luxury surveillance by private companies such as Tesla.

Author Biographies

Yarin Eski, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Yarin Eski, is an assistant professor in Public Administration at the Knowledge Hub Security and Social Resilience of the VU Amsterdam. His research and teaching cover the themes of (maritime) security, ethnography, policing, biography, the arms trade, illegal drug trafficking, corruption, genocide. His work includes A Criminological Biography of an Arms Dealer (2022), Genocide & Victimology (Routledge, 2020), and Policing, Port Security and Crime Control (Routledge, 2016). Moreover, he is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the United Kingdom and obtained his PhD in 2015 from the University of Glasgow. He is an associate member of the Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research (SHOC) of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR).

Marc Schuilenburg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam / Erasmus University Rotterdam

Marc Schuilenburg,is Professor of Digital Surveillance at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Assistant-Professor Criminology at VU Amsterdam. He has published the critically and highly acclaimed books Hysteria (Routledge, 2021), The Securitization of Society (NYU-Press, 2015) and Mediapolis (010-Publishers, 2006). He has edited eight books, including The Algorithmic Society (Routledge, 2021). His PhD on security assemblages in urban environments was awarded the triennial Willem Nagel Prize by the Dutch Society of Criminology. He has been a visiting professor in New York (John Jay College, 2013) and Ipswich (University Campus Suffolk, 2014-2020). Internet: www.marcschuilenburg.nl.






Articles (Non-Thematic)