Tesla Cybertruck: 6 things Elon Musk just confirmed

Chris Davies - Nov 25, 2019, 9:40 am CST
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Tesla Cybertruck: 6 things Elon Musk just confirmed

Tesla launch events are great, but as every keen EV follower knows, it’s Elon Musk’s Twitter that’s the real firehose of news. The outspoken CEO has been full-throated in his enthusiasm for the Tesla Cybertruck since the avant-garde electric pickup broke cover on Thursday night, and now we’re getting an even better understanding of how it will help shape Tesla’s range in the future.

Tesla is making the Cybertruck’s stainless steel in-house

Whether you love or hate the design of the Cybertruck, you can’t argue that it’s a lot more slab-sided compared to the generally smooth curves of other modern EVs. That fairly Brutalist assembly of angles has proved divisive, but according to Musk it’s a side-effect of one of the pickup’s key advantages.

“Reason Cybertruck is so planar is that you can’t stamp ultra-hard 30X steel, because it breaks the stamping press,” the chief exec tweeted. “Even bending it requires a deep score on inside of bend, which is how the prototype was made.”

The cold-rolled stainless steel is actually Tesla’s own alloy, Musk added, and will be produced in-house. That production process itself shouldn’t be a challenge, he suggested, but coming up with “new body manufacturing methods,” may be. That’s because the sturdy steel can’t use the existing methods, and instead need to be laser cut.

In time, though, Musk says he’s “confident it will actually cost less” than those standard methods, “because of its simplicity and lower part count.”

Musk has a theory for the Cybertruck’s smashed window

It really wasn’t meant to happen. Musk was in the midst of talking up the Cybertruck’s sturdy credentials – bodywork resilient to bullets and sledgehammer strikes! windows that were smash-proof! – when a metal ball thrown by lead designer Franz von Holzhausen left a resolutely not-smash-proof crack in the truck’s glass.

The automaker quickly repaired the windows with spare glass after the truck was pulled off stage, to prep it for drive loop demos. However the theories as to why the glass cracked have been flowing thick and fast. Musk has his own, and it all comes down to the order that the toughness demo was run in.

“Sledgehammer impact on door cracked base of glass, which is why steel ball didn’t bounce off,” Musk explains. “Should have done steel ball on window, *then* sledgehammer the door. Next time…”

There’ll be different Cybertruck colors, but not many of them

At first, it seemed like Tesla was following the classic Ford Model T idea: you could have any Cybertruck color you wanted, as long as it was bare stainless steel. That evolved in short order to accommodate a black version, after eager fans photoshopped the pickup in a darker finish. Musk seemed to agree it looked great, and agreed that it should be offered.

However it doesn’t look like Tesla will be offering the usual truck-maker’s array of colors, from worksite-friendly basic white through to more consumer-friendly hues.

Instead, Tesla is looking to bypass paint altogether for those who want a different Cybertruck finish. The automaker is counting on vinyl wrapping to do that, effectively taking the standard pickup and covering it in an adhesive layer. That could have any color a driver wanted, or indeed patterns and graphics.

There are a few upsides to wrapping as a finish. For a start, it doesn’t require a complex paint shop: they’re expensive, can be tough to scale, time-consuming, and environmentally questionable. Tesla has previously cut the number of color options on its existing range, in part because offering a wide palette of finishes places excessive demands on the paint shop.

Then there’s the potential for easily changing your mind and switching up your Cybertruck finish. Small scratches and scrapes can be more readily addressed, and if you sell the truck the buyer could choose to switch color without an expensive repaint.

Cybertruck will be the last big Tesla product news for a while

It’s fair to say Tesla’s roadmap is pretty packed. While the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are all on the road, we’re still yet to see the Model Y begin delivery. Waiting in the wings is the new Tesla Roadster 2.0, the Tesla Semi, and now the Cybertruck.

Unsurprisingly, then, Musk says Tesla its going to cool it with big vehicle news. “Cybertruck is our last product unveil for a while,” he confirmed, “but there will be some (mostly) unexpected technology announcements next year.”

What we’re curious about is whether Full Self-Driving will be part of those technology announcements. Tesla has been offering that as an option for some time now – it’ll be a $7,000 addition on the Cybertruck, the only cost option the automaker has so-far confirmed for the EV – though without the ability for a car to actually drive itself without human interaction.

Cybertruck could become a family not a single model

Right now there’s just one Cybertruck: a six-seater with a 6.5 foot bed – which Tesla refers to as the EV’s Vault. In time, though, Cybertruck may end up a family of vehicles, rather than just a single model in the Tesla range.

One would-be driver bemoaned the scale of the truck, suggesting that it could end up blocking his road. Musk agreed that a smaller Cybertruck, in time, could be a good idea. After all, manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota all have a variety of full-size and mid-size pickups to choose between, based on the idea that not every driver has the same requirements.

More unusual is how Cybertruck could evolve if it didn’t need that Vault for cargo. One Tesla fan suggested a Cybertruck SUV, with a third row of seats that could potentially bring the occupancy count to nine people in total. “Interesting idea,” Musk replied.

Tesla Cybertruck reservations continue to climb

Tesla opted not to reveal Model Y reservation numbers, but hasn’t shown that same reticence when it comes to the Cybertruck. Musk tweeted out the first milestone on Saturday, confirming that the automaker had received 146,000 reservations. Each of those is worth $100.

That number increased over the weekend, with Musk subsequently tweeting that it had hit 200,000. That’s a healthy $20 million added to Tesla’s bank account, just in time to cushion production of the Model Y in fact. The reservation is fully refundable and, as Model 3 line-holders demonstrated a couple of years ago, not every one will convert into a full sale.

Indeed, Tesla opted for a significantly lower reservation amount this time around. Model 3 reservations required $1,000, versus $100 for the Cybertruck. That’s a decision that seems to be paying off.


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