We hit the Tesla Cybertruck with sledgehammers

by Alex Sobran
1 December 2023 3 min read
We hit the Tesla Cybertruck with sledgehammers
Photos: Cameron Neveu

Check out our brand-new film on the Tesla Cybertruck in the latest installment of “Jason Cammisa on the ICONS,” which you can watch right now on the Hagerty YouTube channel.

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If being visionary means having the power to peer into and understand the future, how do we define the ability to create the future? Is that not much rarer? Doesn’t it demand a boldness that verges on being preposterous, a willfulness that baulks at the conventions that block so many others? Can it take the form of … an unpainted pickup truck?

What about an electric, 800bh tri-motor four-wheeled Frigidaire that completes the quarter-mile in 11 seconds flat and can outrun a go-kart… on a go-kart track?

We just spent two days at Sonoma Raceway in California filming, drag racing, and whacking the Tesla Cybertruck with sledgehammers in vain attempts to dent its “HFS” exoskeleton. (It was a riot.) HFS, by the way, is short for Tesla’s immature-but-accurate name for the in-house alloy developed for the Cybertruck: Hard F*cking Steel. That it seems a fitting but clunky moniker for an aspiring adult actor is pretty in line with Musk’s brand of humor. But we digress.

This truck doesn’t need crude jokes to get noticed. Even at Sonoma, a place regularly populated with high-end racing cars (more than a few scenes had to be reshot thanks to the sporadic background yawps of a hotlapping Fly Yellow GT3 Ferrari), the Tesla slab was a gravity well of attention. Every single soul who caught a glimpse wanted another. And they all had something to say: “What in the Cyberf*** am I looking at?“ “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” “That’s hideous. May I please test if it’s bulletproof?”

Hagerty video host Jason Cammisa summed it up best: “[The Cybertruck] is going to become a polarising status symbol parked in the driveway of every Lamborghini owner as their ‘suburban assault’ daily driver, but very much like a Lamborghini, there’s genuine substance baked in… And the sad part is, you’ve already made up your mind about the Cybertruck based on the way it looks. So did I, so did everyone else. But that’s not fair to this thing.”

He’s right. Beneath the controversially curveless skin lies the truly interesting bits. For starters, the Cybertruck features a “steer-by-wire” system wherein there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the wheels. Instead, a group of sensors interpret it all for the driver, changing the steering ratio depending on the environment. This technology isn’t new, but Tesla’s use of it here feels dramatic, and there’s no physical failsafe. While hauling down the highway at 80mph, the ratio is high; while navigating a tight parking garage causes the ratio to drop so you’re not rotating the wheel around like you’re driving a lorry. In other words, the Cybertruck’s four-wheel steering system is bolstered by a variable steering ratio for greater adaptability. That’s not just a party trick, like the Tesla whoopie cushion gag that makes a fart noise when you sit down, that’s a very practical piece of tech. The Cybertruck uses proprietary batteries that are more efficient for vehicular power and manufacturing. The batteries feed a 48volt electric architecture.

And that bodywork that we had so much fun slamming with our sledgehammers? It’s not just a fun way to show off your Mars-mobile to your idiot friends – it translates into a structure that’s so tough that Tesla doesn’t need to put crash bars in the doors. If you want to see what that looks like in a crash test, pay special attention to that part of our Cybertruck film, which goes into much more technical detail on the aforementioned gizmos.

Tesla Cybertruck profile drag strip

Time will reveal whether the Cybertruck heralds our driving future, or if it merely becomes one of many alternate realities that atrophied in ours. What’s certain, though, is that it’s unlike any other new vehicle. And even the people firmly opposed to its existence must admit that this truck is fascinating. In a time when we’re seeing a massive paradigm shift in the way we think about personal transportation, yet only see a handful of cars and trucks that seem to be doing more than trend-chasing, we say “the more the merrier.”

Backing up a provocative design like the Cybertruck with genuine innovation is how seemingly farcical visions become visionary realities, and this thing falls squarely (or is it rectangularly?) in the latter category.

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  • Sidney says:

    If a man’s company can get space rockets to come back and land themselves on a ship, the pickup truck is likely to be at least as surprising. And it is. Good. Progress still being made in our world.

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