The Tesla Cybertruck is more concept car than production

Zac Palmer

Tesla unveiled its wacky Cybertruck last night, and despite the positively sky-high performance stats and specs, there are a lot of questions still to be answered. Given how extreme the design is, don't expect that the Cybertruck as presented last night will reach production unchanged. In fact, it’s about as concept car-like as any previous Tesla reveal to date.

In true concept car fashion, there are no mirrors or wipers, and the lighting is also questionable. This concept doesn’t even appear to have camera mirrors installed anywhere, and who knows when those will be greenlit by U.S. regulators anyway. The Cybertruck has just one light bar in the front and another light bar in back. We’re not sure where the third brake light is yet either. It looks like the turn signals may be hiding down by the bumper, but the light bar across the front appears to house both the headlights and one massive DRL.

Its wheels and tires look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie, and the setup doesn’t look like it would be viable for production. The steering wheel looks like something out of a race car, so we imagine plenty of interior changes will be coming, too,

But we assume the overall design and materials are production-intent, and we're curious about the safety aspects of the truck’s design, so we talked to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) about it.

First off, all of the sharp angles made us wonder how the truck will interact with pedestrians in a crash. “That’s definitely an issue with SUVs and pickups. Pedestrians are more likely to get killed by them. But I’m not sure if the angles would necessarily contribute to that,” Joe Young, IIHS media relations associate told us.

David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, also pointed out there is no U.S. federal requirement that vehicles need to meet to interact with pedestrians in a certain way, as there is in Europe and elsewhere. “It’s hard to say whether this will be worse or better than being hit by a different type of truck,” Young adds.

We were also curious how making this truck's exterior out of stainless steel might affect its crashworthiness. “Regardless of what the material is that they’re making the vehicle out of, whether it’s stainless steel or forged aluminum, it’s hard to say how it would impact its crashworthiness, or how if it did hit a pedestrian, how that would affect it. It’s more how they apply the material and what the underlying structure is and so forth,” said Zuby.

"Just from a design standpoint, it might be difficult to test [for roof crush]," Young noted.

Obviously, there’s much more to learn about the Cybertruck in the coming months, both in safety and elsewhere, as Tesla translates what it presented last night into a salable vehicle for the road.