Remember the first time we saw the Tesla Cybertruck? No? If you don’t, it’s probably because the as-of-yet-unreleased EV was revealed in late 2019, almost four years ago. The event was notable, not just for the wild, futuristic vehicle shown on stage, but for the major blooper that occurred when Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to demonstrate its “armored glass,” breaking the window on stage. As it turns out, that was just one of several early issues the Tesla engineering team discovered with the alpha-level prototype.
A recently leaked document, shared by Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper and reported here by Wired, sheds some light on why it’s been almost four years since the truck’s reveal and pulls back the curtain on the complex engineering process behind its development. The company struggled to solve issues with body sealing and leaks, noise, handling and braking, and suspension. While those are common issues with any new model, industry insiders expressed surprise at how much effort and time it took to solve them.
Some of the problems stemmed from the truck’s design, which presented unique challenges with body sealing and noise. Getting a good seal with traditional automotive shapes is hard enough, and the sharp, geometric Cybertruck made the process even more challenging. The document also outlines other issues, such as “high head-toss accelerations,” “structural shake,” and “excessive mid-speed abruptness and chop.” Some of the more advanced features promised for the truck also presented early problems, such as the “strafe mode,” which functions like the crab walk feature in the GMC Hummer EV.
Even with these issues and others, Tesla promises it’s on track to release the truck by the end of this year, though volume production won’t start until sometime in 2024. Once it does land, the Cybertruck’s shape may continue to cause issues for its widespread adoption, as some point to potential difficulties passing safety regulations in Europe and elsewhere. Stainless steel is a complicated metal to work with and does not flex like traditional steel, so the truck’s crumple zones and other features may be compromised to meet the design.