The entire world took notice a few months back when Tesla released its new automotive marvel; the Tesla Cybertruck. But pretty much everyone asked the same question – why does the Tesla Cybertuck look like that?
Let’s look at the reasons:
- Utility over style – the rule for all pickups
- The Tesla Cybertruck exoskeleton
- The AISI 300 Stainless Steel Series
- What is cold-rolled stainless steel used on the Cybertruck?
- Tesla’s new automotive manufacturing process
- Cybertruck and Tesla’s mission
The Cybertruck is Tesla’s latest to their electric line up. It would be an understatement and disservice to the engineers at Tesla to say that it’s different.
The industry talked about how the new truck would compete with the Ford F-150. Everything from the measurements to towing capacity to price was compared. But no one compared the styling as that is incomparable. When compared aesthetically though pretty much everyone, at first at least, felt the same way; it was ugly.
People loved the fact that in comparison to other electric trucks it was head and shoulders above everything. Even against the best selling trucks, some variants of which are more expensive, it’s still the king; higher towing capacity, larger payload capability, larger cab size.
But still, everything comes down to the styling, to the same question -Why does the Tesla Cybertruck look like that?
Utility over style – the rule for all pickups?
There is no doubt that the Cybertruck looks radical, futuristic, and at first glance at least, like the DeDorean’s big bad brother. The standard look of a pickup truck has not changed in over 100 years; the same large hood out front housing a high torque engine, a flatbed out back to carry the load and a small cabin to house the driver.
There’s a reason that the pickup truck looks like that, the front needs to house the large engine so it’s large. The flatbed needs to hold an 8×4 sheet and the cabin obviously needs to be for the driver. But an electric vehicle doesn’t have an engine in the normal sense so why does it need the large front end? Let’s remove that, the bed and the cabin are needed so they can stay.
Tesla Cybertruck exoskeleton
The other thing that catches the eye, other than the ‘crazy’ styling, is the unpainted steel exoskeleton. For this Tesla went as far as creating their own stainless steel alloy, in this case, “Ultra-hard 30X Cold-rolled Stainless Steel” This is the same steel as that used on the SpaceX Starship’s shell, at least according to Elon Musk.
Tesla say that they choose this material for their Starship because:
- The stainless steel alloy used costs less than half the price of the alternative advanced carbon fiber material
- It is able to withstand low cryogenic temperatures when ascending
- It has a high melting point for when the space ship reenters the atmosphere.
- The initial material for the Cybertruck skins was supposed to be titanium, but with this, it can be deduced that the stainless steel “30X” is a kind of steel grade under the 300 series code.
It is hard to see how any of these applies to a pickup truck but let’s give the benefit of doubt to Tesla.
The AISI 300 Stainless Steel Series
The 300 stainless steel series is a subcategory of alloy that belongs to the austenitic stainless steel family. Austenite steels have a face-centered cubic crystal structure. The 300 steel series has a typical chromium content of 18%, 8% nickel, and 0.1% carbon.
Austenite steels perform in a wide range of temperatures, are non-magnetic, and have excellent corrosion and oxidation resistance. They can withstand scratches and have attractive surface finish properties. This now starts to make sense, it looks like Tesla researched this very well indeed.
Of course, there are many different kinds of steels under the 300 series. The type you’ll find in your kitchen will likely be 304 and in industrial applications such as chemical processing, it will also be 316. The specific type used by Tesla is 301, a type will excellent corrosion resistance and high strength. In order to be hardened type 301 must be hardened through the cold working process.
Tesla is saying that they have re-engineered the steel to enhance its properties to make for dent-free and ‘bullet-proof’ body panels.
What is cold-rolled stainless steel used on the Cybertruck?
This type of steel is firstly hot rolled between a series of rollers to create hard, thin steel sheets. The next process is Cold rolling. This is done at room temperature and happens after the hot rolling to achieve the correct dimensional accuracy. The process also improves the steel’s strength and gives it a fine finish to the surface.
If we are to look at the stress-strain curve, the process applies stress far beyond the material’s normal elastic deformation limit, this is also known as the yield strength. It moves it into the plastic range so that the material’s structure plastically is permanently changed. In technical terms, the granular and crystalline structure is elongated and dislocated along the direction it moves through the rollers. The end material has a higher yield strength than normal.
This makes it ideal for the panels of the truck due to the new higher tension breaking resistance, ensuring fewer dents from day to day use. The drawback is that the new steel comes at a higher cost, so we are unlikely to see the same material used for cheaper cars.
Tesla’s new automotive manufacturing process
The one thing which gives the Cybertruck it looks is the angular overall shape and the basic lines of the body panels. It seems this is because (according to Tesla) the material is so hard that it cannot be stamped into curves as it would break the stamping press. This can be taken with a pinch of salt but it does explain the looks.
Therefore Tesla devised a ‘new’ manufacturing process whereby they used laser cutting to make the panels. This also means that Tesla has been able to speed up and simplify the manufacturing process for the Cybertruck and kept the pricing low (relatively).
Tesla Cybertruck and Tesla’s mission
Whatever Tesla’s mission was for releasing the Cybertruck they have managed to change the market for the best selling form of transportation in the US, the aforementioned Ford F-150 is the best selling VEHICLE in the US, for now.
Tesla has so far taken 250,000 deposits for the Cybertruck, as the deposit is just $100 it is likely that the actual number of sales will be lower but it does show that the look of this particularly futuristic looking pickup has caught the imagination of the entire world and of the rival manufacturers who are rushing to bring out their own ‘futuristic vehicles’.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the material selection and the manufacturing considerations played a key part and influence in the design and aesthetic of the vehicle. For now, it seems unlikely that the pickup will be available in any other colors, Musk has suggested it will be available in matte black, but the process for painting stainless steel is a costly one – stainless steel, especially cold-rolled tends to have a far smoother surface than just plain steel and this makes the adhesion of paint difficult. Besides isn’t the whole point of the Cybertruck that it stands out from the crowd.
Let us know below what you think of the Cybertrucks looks – ugly or futuristic?