Last week, some videos of a Cybertruck attempting to off-road started to make the rounds. Sadly, at least if you’re a fan of the ugly duckling, things didn’t go so well. An incline that many AWD crossovers and even some sedans can tackle proved to be a major problem for the silver sloth.
Now, to be fair, the Cybertruck is still in development, even if it’s supposed to start delivering soon. The company could still be working on dialing in the AWD system and optimizing it for the truck’s weight and other factors where it differs from other Tesla models. It’s also possible that the Cybertruck’s test driver put the vehicle in an unusually bad situation, either on purpose for testing or through poor line choice. But, we can’t see what, exactly, it’s getting stuck on.
That having been said, it’s still pretty bad for a vehicle that’s supposed to be rugged and supposed to come out so soon to be struggling like this. After all, the company has been working on the vehicle for years, and got beat to delivery by pretty much everyone else out there but Dodge. It seems unlikely to me that the vehicle’s developers would still be struggling with this after so long and so close to release time.
The other problem that could be coming up is simply vehicle weight. To get serious range with a big vehicle like the Cybertruck, you need a lot of battery. Having all that battery weight means it’s harder to fight against the force of gravity, meaning that more traction is probably needed to hook up and pull the vehicle up the hill.
Ford’s CEO Jim Farley proved that this isn’t a problem that all EV trucks suffer from, though.
Without much struggle, the F-150 Lightning goes right up the same hill. Yes, there’s some slip-and-grip going on, but given that most EVs with transverse drive units don’t have limited-slip differentials, they’re relying on the traction control system to throw a brake on a slipping wheel, effectively forcing the power into the other wheel on the axle. This is a reactive system instead of a proactive system like locking differentials, so there will be some slip before grip happens.
The important thing here is that the grip actually happens after the slip. When the system behaves like an open differential without traction control, you know you’ve got a pretty serious lack of off-road capability.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Cybertruck represents a big opportunity cost for Tesla. I’m not against companies trying to do something new and innovative, and I know that everyone has different tastes. However, that doesn’t mean that the company had to make Cybertruck its first pickup truck. Tesla could have easily made a ute on the Model 3/Y platform, like Truckla, and many people would have bought it up. The company also could have made a more traditional pickup truck like Rivian or Ford did.
Basically, this vehicle, which seems to need a lot of work to get to market, would have made a better second or third truck for the automaker to get into. Offering something easy and then following up with something different would have brought a lot more money into the company while pursuing Elon’s Homer.
Featured image by Tesla.
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