Tesla Cybertruck Questions

Cybertruck drawingIt took me 24 hours to like it. First came the shock, then acceptance, then waking up to wanting one. When somebody does something different there’s usually a strong reaction to it. Trucks are trucks and truck lovers are one fanatic group. The Cybertruck is not for everyone. To me it’s the modern day version of a green Hummer. And if you haven’t seen, the truck launch was must-see TV. Great marketing coup.

A EV truck is a step in the right direction. Look aside, the Cybertruck has a lot of room. There is more room in EV because there is no internal combustion engine taking up space. The batteries in an EV are typically in the floor. That’s one positive for EVs that consumers might not typically consider. GM and Ford are coming out with a EV truck soon. Rivian, a EV truck maker, is one coming out too (I think they are 50% owned by Ford but not sure).

I would like one but I’m not there yet. There are some unanswered questions. You won’t find me put a $100 to be on the reserve list. I want to wait a while to see how things play out. I’m that way with everything. First generation of anything is usually buggy. Let the fanboys find imperfections. Look at Ford and GM, they have been making trucks for decades and they are far from perfect.

The analysis in me comes out and start to question everything. Why can’t I leave it alone and just enjoy the show? Here are some of my concerns.

  • Is the Cybertruck even road certified? It seems so far to be one of Musk’s pet projects. There are a few safety concerns.
  • Where are the mirrors? I though the law required mirrors.
  • Same thing with the door handles. I think you need handles on the outside in case people are trap inside. (I know this because one of my first cars didn’t have a handle on one of the back door and I needed to fix it to have it road certified.)
  • Same goes with the not so bulletproof windows.
  • Musk made much of the Cybertruck cold-rolled stainless steel body. The steel body that won’t bend is a cool feature but isn’t that more dangerous then soft body? Today’s cars are super soft but very safe. During an impact it’s the car that takes the damage, not the passengers. Back in the good old days, two cars made of steel would slam into each other and barely have a scratch but the people inside would be dead.
  • Stainless steel is heavier than aluminium and than carbon fibre. Don’t you want the vehicle to be lighter? You already have super heavy batteries.
  • Stainless steel requires a lot more care than a coat of paint. How do you repair it?
  • Tesla’s finance are shaky. Tesla is burning a lot of cash. It’s current financial position doesn’t radiate confidence. A whole post could be dedicated to Tesla’s financials. Some analysts believes the stock is a $0, others think will go up 10x.
  • Production is expected to start in late 2021. If we learned anything from Tesla, it will be delayed.
  • Towing is important for truck people. Tesla’s base warranty doesn’t cover deep water, presumably because of the battery packs. Many people with boats know launching the craft requires backing into water.
  • Maybe Tesla is not going after the hardcore truck people. Maybe the appeal is to “influencer crowd” like celebrities and the “look at me” crowd. The Cybertruck might be the Hummer for the green millennial generation, a virtue and vice signaling machine. Plus most truck owners don’t use their truck for trucking. The truck is on asphalt 99.9% of the time.
  • The Cybertruck lacks aerodynamics because stainless steel is hard to work with. This can’t be good for mileage.
  • The price points seem too low considering all the promises. The price points seems to be around the same as a Model 3. The stainless steel is expensive to produce. The amount of batteries it will take is not cheap. Is this going to be a profitable vehicle or a market share grabber?
  • How much is it going to cost to get this venture going? How many millions, or billions, will it cost to get this new and costly manufacturing processes? What’s the return on investment on this R&D, factories, and tooling equipment required for the truck? Are they going to build a new tent?
  • The stainless steel unibody limits the Cybertruck to a highly capable 6-seater pickup and nothing else.
  • The biggest disadvantage for a unibody design is customization. With a traditional body on frame design, a manufacturer can build anything that a customer wants. It can make it a single/double cab, or a long/medium/short bed. An F-Series can be a two-wheel drive F-150 that can only tow 7,500 lbs or a Super Duty F-450 that can tow north of 30,000 lbs. The Cybertruck can’t be customized in any such way without redesigning the entire chassis for each application.

I will wait. There are too many unknowns here. Musk has a history of over-promising or let’s just call it like it is — complete fabrication. On the other hand, it’s good to have a strong vision and to aim for the sky, or space in his case. After all this is a guy who started a EV car company from scratch and is sending rockets in spaces. But you also need to be careful. Let’s wait for the “finish” product.

Early results show Cybertruck might have wider appeal than many predicted. To be continued….

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