A Brief Analysis On The Tesla Cybertruck’s Exoskeleton

The Cybertruck is Unsafe?

Apart from the fact that the car looks like it belongs in an episode of Star Trek, the Tesla Cybertruck’s Stainless Steel Unibody Exoskeleton is causing controversy regarding the safety of the passengers. This is because the extremely rigid skin of the car has no crumple zones which are very important in reducing the risk of serious injury in the event of a car crash.

What are Crumple Zones?

Crumple Zones are areas in the body of the car that are designed to absorb the force of impact during an accident. This is so that the passengers experience a fraction of the force. Thus reducing the risk of serious injury or death. A car’s ability to absorb force on impact is a very important parameter for being certified as safe to drive.

Why did Tesla choose to Use Stainless Steel?

With the Cybertruck, Tesla aimed to put out a truck that not only looked stunning while outperforming every other car on the market but to do it at a fraction of the cost. One way they reduced the cost was by using a unibody design. It is easier to manufacture thus making it less expensive. But unibody designs made with aluminum or painted steel were not as durable as the traditional body-on-frame approach, which is why most trucks never adopted it.
Apart from one truck made by Honda called the Ridgeline. Unlike the Tesla Cybertruck, Honda used the same aluminum they use for other cars, it has a much smaller towing capacity because the aluminum does not have a strong frame to help absorb the force. The Honda Ridgeline is far from being a failure, but it is definitely not a heavy-duty truck.
Which is why Tesla decided to use a 3mm thick, 30x series cold-rolled stainless steel for the unibody exoskeleton. Which is also the same material used by their sister-company, SpaceX in its Starship Spacecraft. So we know this thing is durable. However, the Cybertruck is not the first car with a stainless steel exterior. The DMC DeLorean, which was greatly popularized for its futuristic look in the Sci-Fi movie “Back to The Future” also used stainless steel for its exterior as a way to cut the cost of manufacturing.

The Perks of Having a Stainless Steel Exterior

A stainless steel exterior means that Tesla doesn’t have to spend time, money and their workforce in painting the body. Which further drives the cost of the car down. This also means that as customers, we don’t have to spend money on waxing, paint correction, paint protection coating or any kind of ceramic coating on the car, which is literally any car owner’s dream. The stainless steel exterior also makes the car extremely rust-proof, which in-turn increases the longevity of the car.

The Caveats of Having a Stainless Steel Exterior

As Tesla demonstrated at their unveiling, it is very hard for to even dent the exoskeleton. Many show this as a point of concern. A car having such a rigid exterior means that during impact, the body of the car does not crumple and absorb the force of impact. This means all of the force is passed onto the passengers sitting in the cabin, which can be quite devastating.

Solutions to the Problem

A Youtuber who goes by the name Noisy Carlos has a brilliant video on his channel that demonstrates various ways Tesla could implement crumple zones. Most effective of which is an internal crumple zone. It works by adding dampeners between the exoskeleton and the cabin. This absorbs the force of impact and keeps the passengers safe during an accident.

Official Statement

Tesla is yet to disclose their approach to overcome the Cybertruck’s inability to crumple for the safety of the passengers. The nay-sayers however, are adamant that the Cybertruck will be much less safer than a traditional truck with an aluminum body and a body-on-frame design.

Image Credits:

Crash Test Car: Kalispera Dell, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tesla Cybertruck Unveiling: u/Kruzat, modified by Smnt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Cybertruck Outside: u/Kruzat, modified by Periwinklewrinkles, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tesla Cybertruck Driving Lightbar: u/Kruzat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tesla ASM Lineup of Vehicles: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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