Update: ‘2023 production date update’ section updated.
The semiconductor chip shortage is seemingly the biggest hurdle for the Tesla Cybertruck’s mass production. The scarcity of chips has affected Tesla, co-founder and CEO Elon Musk acknowledged during the Q2 2021 earnings conference call, saying that the company is figuring out how to address the issue.
So in order for Cybertruck and Semi to scale to volume that’s meaningful for customer deliveries, we’ve got to solve the chip shortage working with our suppliers. And someone would say, why don’t you just build a chip fab? Well, OK, that would take us, even moving like lightning, 12 to 18 months.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Q2 2021 results conference call)
Musk said that the Tesla Cybertruck and Tesla Semi are heavy users of cell capacity, and the company needs to ensure the steady availability of the crucial component. The company can start producing vehicles now, but it would lose an exorbitant amount of money on each truck.
They would literally cost $1 million apiece or more. There’s a reason why you do things in volume production, which is to get the economies to scale and get the cost down.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Q2 2021 results conference call)
2023 production date update
Tesla plans to manufacture the Cybertruck at the Giga Texas plant in Austin (Texas), USA. Early production (low-volume production) will begin in mid-2023, Musk said during the company’s Q3 2022 earnings conference call on October 19, 2022. The company will start mass production (high-volume production) of the electric pickup truck at the end of 2023, Reuters reported on November 1, 2022, based on information obtained from two sources privy to the development. Either way, customer deliveries aren’t expected before the second half of next year.
Tesla has started gearing up for the Cybertruck’s mid-2023 start of production date. “We’re building a Cybertruck assembly line here at Giga Texas Austin,” Musk said during the company’s Q3 2022 earnings conference call. According to the company’s Q3 2022 Update document (Shareholder Deck), it has started tooling this factory for Cybertruck production. The company has begun hiring experts for the Cybertruck production operations, as seen in the Careers section of its website (tesla.com).
We’re still on track to enter early production in the middle of next year.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Q3 2022 earnings conference call on October 19, 2022)
At the opening of the Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg on March 22, 2022, Musk had stated that Tesla wants to finish the development of the final model before December 2022:
We want to complete development of the Cybertruck and be ready for production next year.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg opening on March 22, 2022)
Tesla didn’t begin Cybertruck production in late 2021 as per the original schedule because it could not have made it in sufficient volumes, Musk revealed during the company’s Q4 2021 and full year 2021 earnings conference call on January 26, 2022. The situation is the same in 2022, the brand boss added.
With less than a year until series production, testing of the Cybertruck is on in full swing. Spy shots suggest that Tesla is running Cybertruck prototypes on public roads to ensure it’s ready for all the challenges of the real world. On August 27, 2022, Twitter user WholeMarsBlog posted a picture of a prototype snapped while being unloaded onto a street for testing. It carried several sensors that could be for Autopilot features. Like every other Tesla sold in the U.S., the Cybertruck may use the company’s camera-based Tesla Vision instead of radar.
Tesla removed the Cybertruck prices and the launch timelines from its website before the end of 2021. The company has since confirmed that deliveries won’t start before mid-2023, as stated earlier in this story. As for the prices, Musk revealed during the company’s 2022 annual shareholder meeting on August 4, 2022, that it won’t be able to launch the Cybertruck at the original prices (listed in the table below the quote) as inflation and various issues have increased costs to an unanticipated level.
It was unveiled in 2019 and the reservation was USD 99. So, you know, the thing is a lot has changed since then. So, the specs and the pricing will be different. I, you know, hate to sort of give a little bit of bad news but I think there’s no way to sort of have anticipated quite the inflation that we’ve seen and the various issues.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (2022 annual shareholder meeting on August 4, 2022)
|Single-motor RWD||USD 39,900|
|Dual-motor AWD||USD 49,900|
|Tri-motor AWD||USD 69,900|
Tesla had announced the Cybertruck originally in single-motor RWD, dual-motor AWD, and tri-motor AWD variants. During Tesla’s 2022 annual shareholder meeting on August 4, 2022, Musk confirmed that the Cybertruck’s specifications will be different from what the company originally announced in 2019. One of the changes will be the introduction of a quad-motor powertrain.
Whole Mars Catalog said in a post on Twitter in December 2021 that a new quad-motor variant will join the range, while the single-motor variant is under consideration for cancellation. Musk said in response to the speculation on Twitter that Tesla will produce a quad-motor Cybertruck first, confirming the new top-end variant.
Musk said that the Tesla Cybertruck quad-motor will feature independent motors that provide “ultra-fast response” and allow controlling the torque that goes to each wheel. It could be quicker than the tri-motor Cybertruck, which Tesla claimed will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds. The towing capacity could also be better than the tri-motor variant’s 14,000+ lbs.
Range & 4680 cell
In 2019, Tesla had said that the Cybertruck will deliver a range of 250+ miles, 300+ miles, and 500+ miles in the single-motor RWD, dual-motor AWD, and tri-motor AWD variants, respectively. Even though it has decided to change the specifications now, we are certain that at least one of the variants will deliver a range of more than 500 miles.
The key to achieving a range of more than 500 miles will be batteries made of a new cell type. Called 4680 based on its dimensions – 80 mm length and ~46 mm diameter – this cell can deliver 5X energy, 6X power, and 16% more range. Andrew Baglino, Senior Vice President, Powertrain and Energy Engineering, Tesla, revealed these improvements at the Tesla Battery Day event in September 2020.
Cell and battery pack production
Panasonic Energy, a Panasonic Group company, will manufacture the 4680 cells Tesla plans to use in its EVs. Kazuo Tadanobu, the President and CEO of the company, told Bloomberg in an interview that the development of 4680 cells has “taken an immense amount of stamina.” Giving a whole new shape to the cells took “considerable nerve,” Tadanobu stated.
Production of the batteries consisting of the 4680 cells will commence in FY2024 (April 2023 – March 2024). The Japanese pilot plant started large-scale prototype production in May 2022 and has supplied the sample pieces to Tesla, as per a Reuters report filed on June 1, 2022.
Panasonic Energy plans to establish a new lithium-ion battery production plant in De Soto (Kansas), USA, with an investment of approximately USD 4 billion. The company already has an American EV battery facility, located inside the Tesla Gigafactory Nevada in Sparks (Nevada). It has shipped more than six billion EV battery cells from the existing factory since the start of production on January 4, 2017.
Panasonic Energy aims to start mass production at the Kansas facility by the end of March 2025, starting with 2170 cells. The company could make the 4680 cells there at a later stage, although it hasn’t talked about the future line-up yet. Tesla might have to use 2170 cells in the Cybertruck initially if it can’t manufacture 4680 cells or source them from another company in enough volumes, which may necessitate a significant re-engineering.
On August 26, 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported that Panasonic Energy is considering a third US EV battery plant, this one too with a USD 4 billion investment. The third factory could be located in the State of Oklahoma. The two new facilities could make the 4680 cells that will go into U.S.-built Tesla EVs, including the Cybertruck. This means that initially, the 4680 cells would have to come from another factory, possibly Tesla’s facility at 47700 Kato Road, Fremont (California).
According to one of Bloomberg‘s sources, Panasonic wants to manufacture 4680 batteries in the U.S. plant as early as 2024. Citing a publicly released government document, Bloomberg suggests that Mayes County is the potential manufacturing site in Oklahoma.
Tesla has approached LG Energy Solutions and Samsung SDI also to make 4680 cells for its EVs, as per a report Hankyung (The Korea Economic Daily) published on June 16, 2022. Samsung SDI plans to develop Tesla-spec 4680 cells and install a pilot production line for the same at its Cheonan plant in South Korea for the same, suggests the report. Production of the first samples will take place in H1 2023, and mass production will begin in 2025. As for LG Energy Solutions’ production plan, the company had announced it will invest KRW 580 billion (USD 423 million) at the Ochang Plant 2 (Ochang, South Korea) to make 4680 cells there.
Battery pack production
On October 19, 2022, Teslarati reported that Tesla will build battery packs for the Cybertruck on a new production line on the second floor of its factory at 45500 Fremont Boulevard, Fremont (California). Construction of the new production line is underway. Tesla plans to use automation equipment for making the Cybertruck’s battery packs at this site, and it is testing the same on the new production line.
800-volt system voltage
Tesla is usually quick to adopt new technologies, and the latest example is the structural battery pack in the Model Y. For the Cybertruck it is considering an 800V electrical system instead of the usual 400V. Baglino revealed this development during the Q1 2022 earnings conference call on April 20, 2022.
An 800-volt system voltage would make sense on bigger vehicles like the Cybertruck and Semi, where there’s a requirement for higher charging power (to charge faster), or higher power from the battery to the power electronics, or more torque, Baglino explained. Plus, the higher system voltage allows reducing the weight and installation space of the cabling.
Tesla Cybertruck design
The Tesla Cybertruck features a polarizing design that has remained one of its most debated aspects since day one. Though Tesla has suggested revising the wedge-shaped pickup’s design for production, we doubt it plans to make significant changes. Setting a new benchmark for quirky pickup design, the Cybertruck is not as unique as most think. USPTO design patent application shows similarities to several classic and early 2000s models. Tesla has cited designs of classic sports cars, a funky off-roader, and even an aerodynamic pickup bed cover look in the Cybertruck’s design patent application, as per a report from electrek.co.
The Cybertruck needs many improvements and fixes to become ready for launch, and these revisions will take some more time. As we noted (via YouTube/Cyber Owners) in the prototype Tesla showcased at the Cyber Rodeo event on April 7, 2022, there are many imperfections in the design at this stage. A significant amount of panel gaps, some misaligned panels, damaged parts, and glued-on parts on the prototype indicated that there’s a lot the work ahead for the quality department. The company wouldn’t want another one of its products to have inconsistencies or imperfections in customer delivery units.
Tesla will use Italian company Idra’s Giga Press 9000t, a 9,000-ton giga press, to build the cast bodies of the Cybertruck, Musk confirmed on Twitter on June 1, 2022. Like in the Model Y, the company may use single-piece front and rear castings in the Cybertruck. Giga castings can help automakers deliver to enhance the NVH levels, reduce weight, increase driving range, and improve the safety of vehicles. In addition to making the vehicle better, they can also make their manufacturing simpler and space-efficient.
During Tesla’s Q1 2022 earnings conference call on July 20, 2022, Musk said that vehicle bodies with single-piece castings are lighter and cheaper and provide superior NVH levels. The company plans to introduce another improvement and simplify manufacturing with the Cybertruck and future products, he added. The brand boss expects the Cybertruck to be Tesla’s “best product ever.”
On the large wiper, rear-axle steering & prototypes
YouTube channel Chile Al100 has shared a video that reveals the design changes on the production Cybertruck. Tesla has repositioned the headlights from the top to the bottom of the front-end. Moreover, the company has used separate headlights instead of a full-width light strip. Another noteworthy change is the large wiper resting against the driver-side A-pillar and almost leading to the upper edge of the windshield glass. More on that later.
Lars Moravy, VP – Vehicle Engineering, Tesla, shared a few Cybertruck updates during the Q2 2021 earnings conference call. He said that the company has completed developing the architecture of electric pickup. The Cybertruck is currently in the alpha stages, and Tesla has finished the basic engineering of the vehicle’s architecture. “With the Cybertruck, we’re redefining how a vehicle is being made,” he said.
Video Source: YouTube/Cybertruck Owners Club
Moravy also talked about the Cybertruck’s production during Tesla’s Q3 2021 earnings conference call. After the Austin, Texas-made Model Y, Tesla’s next product launch will be the Cybertruck, Moravy said. The company had built a number of alpha prototypes and was testing them “to further mature the design.” The Cybertruck is gaining rear-axle steering as part of these revisions, Moravy suggested.
Rear-axle steering is now emerging to become a common feature among premium and luxury vehicles. One of the Cybertruck prototypes Tesla brought to the Tesla Cyber Rodeo event it held at Giga Texas on April 7, 2022, did have this feature. Cybertruck Owners Club has released a video of this prototype showing the rear-axle steering system of the Cybertruck in action. We can see the rear wheels turn opposite direction as the front wheels while reversing to reduce the turning circle. At high speeds, they should turn in the same direction as the front wheels and provide more stability.
Changes expected on the Cybertruck production model
New photos and a video of a different-looking Cybertruck surfaced online in January 2022, revealing a few distinct design details on the exterior. Tesla appears to have redesigned the nose section and the bumper to comply with pedestrian safety regulations. As a result, the new face is slightly curvy.
In an interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley and The Kilowatts (watch on YouTube) in June 2022, Musk revealed that Tesla has finally “locked” the Cybertruck’s design. Based on the units we have seen on various occasions since January 2022, below are the changes we are expecting in the final version:
The Tesla Cybertruck’s concept version is huge, and for many markets, it’s just too big. Tesla is working on making it smaller and thus more practical for real-world driving environments. During the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Musk said that the company had made the production version around 3% smaller.
The Cybertruck concept features separate marker lights in the lower front fascia, neatly integrated into the outer ends of the bumper. Further below, nearly at the bottom of the bumper, it has two horizontal LED light bars that serve as its fog lamps. Recent footage of the production version suggests that the front fog lamps are set higher, at the same height as the concept version’s marker lights, albeit relatively more inwards. Tesla probably made the change to improve the visibility of the road in unfavorable weather conditions.
Unlike the prototype, the production version features conventional mirrors, which, according to Musk, are “easy to remove.” It also features digital mirrors enabled by side cameras integrated into the front fender flares for when the regulations allow replacing conventional side mirrors. Tesla is probably using slightly narrower front fenders on the production truck, but we’ll wait for a clearer look to draw any conclusions.
No door handles
Another big change on the Tesla truck’s profile as it evolves into a production vehicle is the removal of flush door handles. The company showcased the updated version of the Cybertruck sans door handles at the Tesla Cyber Rodeo event The updated model had appeared in a walkaround video from YouTube channel Cybertruck Owners Club in January 2022 before being displayed in Texas in April 2022.
Tesla has probably integrated a touch-operated door open/close button on the small rectangular section in the B-pillars and C-pillars. Plus, there should be sensors that detect the user approaching the vehicle with its key and automatically unlock the doors.
You can see some of the changes we’ve made already. There are no handles. Who needs handles? The car can tell that you’re there and it just knows that (it) needs to open. So, I think we’re gonna have an incredible Cybertruck product for you next year. It’s gonna blow your mind.Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla (Tesla Cyber Rodeo on April 7, 2022)
Instead of the covered wheels of the original Cybertruck, the new Cybertruck showcased at the Tesla Cyber Rodeo featured conventionally designed multi-spoke alloy wheels. The new wheels looked smaller, too.
It is possible that the Cybertruck will feature the removable wheel covers when it hits dealers eventually. The charging port opening is likely on the rear left fender flare, not behind it like on the concept.
Minor changes around the bed
The cargo bed of the new Cybertruck has an additional cut-out in it, closer to the cab, and that could be an opening to service the components. While there’s no indication of a mid-gate, maybe this is a configuration built without that feature and there would be others available with it. Unlike the concept version, it probably features a small latch on the tailgate to open it. Lastly, the button layout on the sidewall seems slightly different.
Digital instrument cluster
Inside, the production Cybertruck features a digital instrument cluster, which was lacking in the concept version. Moreover, the customer delivery units may have two additional screens on the outer ends of the dashboard for streaming the live feed from the side cameras.
Tesla’s own stainless steel grade
Tesla has developed its own stainless-steel grade for the Cybertruck’s exterior, Moravy revealed during the company’s Q3 2021 earnings conference call on September 30, 2021. The company has begun the first casting-ins of the custom special stainless-steel, and it’ll work with suppliers and vendors to ensure that it gets enough of it, and on time.
We developed our own stainless-steel grade for the exterior of Cybertruck to meet both the durability and corrosion requirements required for an automotive world.Lars Moravy, VP – Vehicle Engineering, Tesla (Q3 2021 results conference call on September 30, 2021)
Citing Musk, a report from electrek.co suggests that the production Cybertruck won’t come in multiple paint options like a regular pickup. Because of the exposed stainless steel, customers might need to apply a wrap before painting it, and Tesla may not offer wrap and painting services. This will reduce production cost and complexity while helping the environment.
In some prototypes, Tesla has used a large windshield wiper, with a slight angle, that rests near the left A-pillar. Musk said on Twitter that this is not the production design. In another post on Twitter, he revealed that getting the wiper done right has become quite a challenge. One possible solution is a deployable wiper stowed in the trunk, that would be complex, Musk added.
Tesla brought another Cybertruck prototype (see on Twitter) to the Tesla Megapack project launch in Moss Landing, California, on June 6, 2022. This unit had a smaller wiper on the left side.
Size compared to the Model X & Model S
An aerial spy shot of the Tesla Cybertruck was taken in Fremont, California, by drone operator Met God in Wilderness. The EV was parked alongside two Model X units (black and blue) on the left and a white Model S on the right. It appears noticeably larger compared to its siblings in the footage. The Model S measures 195.9 inches (4978 mm) in length, making it long in its own right.
In the clip, the Cybertruck makes the Model S look short, while the Model X appeared dwarfed next to the Cybertruck, which measures 231.7 inches long (5,885 mm). In another instance, the drone flew dangerously close to another test mule of the Cybertruck. The EV’s retractable bed cover was off, and the front and rear sections appeared covered in black tape.
On September 29, 2022, Musk said in a post on Twitter that
Yoke going into production
A highlight of the Cybertruck’s interior is the yoke or, as some say, the ‘open-topped’ steering wheel. The Model S became Tesla’s first production model available with this futuristic design element in 2021. While it has drawn flak, Musk has indicated that the company will go ahead and use it in the Cybertruck as well. Even the Model X received the feature in 2021.
In a Twitter post on September 9, 2021, Musk said the traditional steering wheel is boring and blocks the instrument cluster. He said that full self-driving in panoramic mode looks much better with a yoke than a round steering wheel. On November 30, 2021, when Twitter user ZainS180 asked Musk on Twitter to confirm the yoke for the Cybertruck, he said (via Twitter) the “Cybertruck is intentionally an insane technology bandwagon.” Musk also promoted the yoke as technology from “a post-apocalyptic future.”
The prototype brought to the Tesla Megapack project launch in Moss Landing, California, on June 6, 2022, featured a sleek and sharp instrument cluster, large central display, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, chunky metal petals, and utilitarian floor console. KSBW8 has carried pictures of the interior on its website.
One of the drawbacks of the tablet-style large touchscreen infotainment systems found in the new Tesla models is that they’re not tilted towards the driver like the dashboard-integrated, conventional central displays in BMWs and Audis. Tesla has finally come up with a solution to fix that. The company has started offering a swivel function in the screens of the Model S (view on Twitter) and reportedly even the Model X. It takes just a touch inside one of the menus to tilt the panel towards the driver. The Cybertruck may also feature a central display with a swiveling function that conveniently lets the driver tilt it toward them.
On the Tesla Cyberquad
The Cyberquad is an all-electric all-terrain vehicle (ATV) reportedly built on a Yamaha Raptor 700 chassis. We’re talking about the prototype showcased during the Cybertruck unveil, though. Tesla should build the final version on its own chassis. In China, the company introduced a design competition in which teams of university students and researchers invent a battery pack design using the 2170 cells. The winning team will get a prize equivalent to approximately USD 30,000. Tesla may use the winning battery pack design for the final version of the electric ATV. It looks like Tesla is crowdsourcing R&D for the Cyberquad!
Capable of crossing channels
The Cybertruck features an adjustable air suspension that allows lowering the truck when needed. For example, when customers want to load cargo on the bed, they can make it easier by reducing the height. Tesla calls this the ‘Load’ mode. The company demonstrated the Cybertruck’s Load mode by mounting a Cyberquad on it. Customers will be able to equip their Cybertruck with the Cyberquad optionally.
The air suspension should also allow increasing ground clearance when needed. This feature would be useful when driving over large bumps, on a steep driveway or ramp, or in deep snow or water.
On September 29, 2022, in a post on Twitter, Musk said that the electric truck “will be waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat.” It would be able to cross rivers and lakes through their shallow sections. The Cybertruck “needs to be able to get from Starbase to South Padre Island, which requires crossing the channel,” Musk said in another post on Twitter minutes later.
On October 7, 2022, Musk shared another post on Twitter indicating how Cybertruck could sail short distances. He said that the Cybertruck would need an electric propeller mounted on the tow hitch to sail “faster than a few knots” and that a creative wheel hub design that can generate enough thrust could be helpful. He didn’t confirm whether he’s planning these features for the Cybertruck or just brainstorming out of curiosity.
Responding to Musk’s first post on September 29, 2022, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said on Twitter the same day that it’s not recommendable to use anything that “serves briefly as a boat” as a boat.
Tesla Cybertruck reservations
The Tesla Cybertruck is available to reserve with a small deposit of USD 100, irrespective of the desired configuration. Citing an unofficial reservation tracker, Teslarati reported in August 2021 that Tesla had received 1.2 million pre-orders (estimated 1,268,768 units) for the Cybertruck already.
Dual-motor is the most popular configuration among early birds, accounting for 47.9% of the pre-orders. Tri-motor is the second-most popular configuration, with a 44.8% share. Only 7.3% of the pre-orders are for the single-motor configuration. Note that Tesla has not provided guidance on the actual numbers, and usually, only a percentage of the reservations convert to firm orders.
Tesla seems to have stopped Cybertruck pre-orders outside North America. A quick check on market-specific Tesla websites confirms that it has limited new Cybertruck orders to the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Previously, the Cybertruck was available to pre-order in Europe.
In Australia, Tesla was allowing prospective buyers to make a reservation with a deposit of AUD 150 but it stopped that in May 2022. The local website now lists the Cybertruck, allowing interested people to sign up for updates. According to Drive‘s report published on July 21, 2022, reservation holders can apply for a refund. No surprises here, as Tesla clearly stated on the website that the AUD 150 deposit was fully refundable. The report indicates that Tesla is not canceling reservations, only refunding the deposit to customers who request a cancelation, which gives customers the hope that the Australian launch is still on the cards.
In an interview at the Future of the Car conference (watch on YouTube) on May 10, 2022, Musk said that Tesla “could possibly fulfill for three years after the start of production” given the current order book. While Musk indicated that the Cybertruck is sold-out from 2023 through 2025, he didn’t disclose the volume of reservations received.
Reports say that Tesla has received so many reservations that it would take until 2025 to complete deliveries. Customers making a reservation may need to wait until 2026 to drive home their truck. Perhaps the company has decided to restrict fresh reservations to the priority markets of the Cybertruck, which clearly is North America.
Michigan Formula SAE competition display
Tesla displayed the Cybertruck at the Michigan Formula SAE competition that took place at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn between 18 and 21 May, 2022. Posts on social media (view on Twitter) suggest the company was offering rides in a prototype at the venue.
Tesla may continue displaying and demonstrating the Cybertruck at events ahead of the launch in 2023. It doesn’t do traditional advertising, so public displays/rides and word-of-mouth marketing could be key to generating consumer interest.
The Cybertruck should be one of the most durable and capable pickup trucks on the market. Despite its polarizing design, it has drawn potential customers in the hundreds of thousands, which clearly shows people’s willingness to accept a radically new concept in the rather traditional vehicle category.
Tesla Cybertruck FAQs
What is the Tesla Cybertruck release date?
Tesla Cybertruck deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2023.
Which models will be Tesla Cybertruck alternatives?
What is the Tesla Cybertruck range?
Tesla expects the Cybertruck to deliver an EPA est. range of more than 500 miles.
Featured Image Source: Tesla