We’ve seen the production version of the Cybertruck, we’ve seen the accessories Tesla plans to sell with it, and we’ve heard the biggest highlights associated with its specs. But what is it actually like to drive? Well, a handful of people have had the chance to get behind the wheel, and here’s what they’re saying.
First, we should highlight that only a handful of people have had the chance to film reviews so far, and they seem to be pretty excited about the vehicle. No shade on them, but I think it’s fair to assume that there may be some more skeptical critics out there whose opinions will be (perhaps more) interesting to hear.
Blazing fast: 60 mph in 2.6 Seconds
However, Hemming’s Jason Cammisa, Top Gear’s Jack Rix and tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee are all impressed by the vehicle’s speed in their videos. In fact, while filming at Sonoma Raceway, Cammisa managed to reach 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. That sounds like old news, but he managed to do it on an unprepared piece of road, with the battery at less than 50 percent state of charge, on the all-terrain tires. That consistent performance is one of the big advantages of the new 800V architecture.
advertisement scroll to continue
All three also say the truck feels very strong and rigid, thanks to the stainless steel body and the adaptive suspension. While Rix says that the Cybertruck feels better than any other truck he’s ever driven, and is even fun, he admits that it doesn’t quite feel like a sports car through the corners.
Read: The Tesla Cybertruck Is Bulletproof, Faster Than A 911 While Towing A 911, And Costs $60K
Speaking to Tesla’s VP of engineering, Lars Moravy, we get some insight into why the Cybertruck feels more rigid than other pickups. While it’s true that stainless steel is stronger than the metal used in other vehicles, that doesn’t always lead to greater rigidity.
“The trick in engineering was how do you take the strength that’s there, and incorporate it into the needs you have for the vehicle,” said Moravy. “This sail panel that you see back there [above the belt line, behind the side windows], it adds, like, 25 percent of the torsional stiffness of the vehicle.”
The result is a truck that’s light and strong, because it requires less internal structure. That’s great for efficiency, but also led to some headaches for the engineering team. Not only did it have to create a new alloy called HFS (which stands for Hard F**king Steel), it also had to learn how to press it. Brownlee spoke to engineers who said that in addition to being strong, stainless steel is also springy.
“So they have to stamp it further than you need to get it to unspring back to the point that you want to be at. It’s a whole, complicated thing,” says Brownlee. “All of that is to say, I’ve seen a bunch of Cybertrucks, while I’ve been here, and they all have slightly different levels of panel gaps, build quality in general.”
Build quality concerns: “OCD may hate the Cybertruck”
The nature of the material also leads to other issues. While scratches from the trail can be buffed outmore easily, people with OCD may hate the Cybertruck. In many shots of the trucks, you can see where GoPro cameras have been suction cupped on. Meanwhile, Brownlee points out that because there are no door handles (there’s a button on the pillar that you press), people are likely to grab the steel to open it. That means that it will inevitably be covered in fingerprints almost immediately. He also complains that the interior quality leaves something to be desired, though others say that the ride is whisper quiet.
Read: The Production Cybertruck Pales In Comparison To Tesla’s Earlier Promises
Another small but annoying issue is the steering. While all report that the progressive steering system works well at speed, they say that it is disorienting at low speeds. For a vehicle with masses of low-speed torque, whose electric speed is already leading to reports of accidents in Europe, to add a new level of uncertainty for drivers feels like it may lead to more low speed collisions. Even if it doesn’t, I wonder what it will be like to hitch a trailer when you aren’t completely certain how much the wheels are about to turn.
Also making reversing maneuvers a little difficult is the complete lack of a rearview mirror. As in other vehicles, there’s a camera feed in the infotainment screen to help you see what’s behind you while you’re driving, but even looking behind may not help because of the tonneau cover.
Moravy explains that, unlike other pickups whose shape traps an air vortex in the bed, the triangular shape of the Cybertruck means that without the tonneau cover, the aerodynamic efficiency is so compromised, that the truck loses about 10 percent of its range.
Balancing efficiency and complexity
However, with the cover down, the truck has a coefficient of drag of around 0.335, which is a 25 percent improvement over the show car, which was unveiled in 2019. That’s because of the rounded front end, the single four-foot-long windshield wiper, and other small aero tricks that help smooth out the shape of the truck.
Even by Tesla’s standards, this is a vehicle that is packed with technology, like the 48V low-voltage system, which allows it to steer by wire. According to Moravy, that’s why it’s going to take so long to get from this point, when the company can hand out a few trucks, to full production, when it can deliver new Cybertrucks to everyone who wants them.
“There’s a lot of new technology in this […] and all of these things add to the amount of risk in ramping,” he explains. “So, in an ideal case maybe it will take us 12–15 months to get to that rate, but it’s only going to move as slow as whichever one of those things has the first problem. And, then, you know, I think at Tesla we’ve gotten better at ramping.”
We’ll be interested to see what problems emerge first, and how owners like it. But for now, it is at least interesting.