Ever since its first reveal, Tesla’s Cybertruck has been a topic of much discussion, not just for its futuristic design but also for the safety concerns it raises. The Cybertruck’s unique angular design and stiff stainless-steel exoskeleton have caught the attention of safety experts, who worry about its potential impact on pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.
The Concerns Raised by Experts
In a recent interview with six safety professors and officials who had viewed Tesla’s crash test videos, Cybertruck remains vulnerable to design related risks. t These videos, which sparked considerable discussion on social media, showed the Cybertruck undergoing various crash tests. However, experts have expressed the need for more detailed crash-test data to draw firm conclusions about the vehicle’s safety.
Adrian Lund, former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), highlighted a significant concern: “The big problem there is if they really make the skin of the vehicle very stiff by using thick stainless steel, then when people hit their heads on it, it’s going to cause more damage to them.” This comment underscores the potential risk the Cybertruck’s design poses to pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a collision.
Tesla’s Response and Design Features
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on the other hand, has expressed high confidence in the Cybertruck’s safety, both for occupants and pedestrians. He emphasized the truck’s structures designed to absorb impact during a crash. During the launch event in Austin, Texas, Tesla showcased the cold-rolled, stainless body panels and energy-absorbing ribs at the front and rear structures, designed to dissipate energy during a crash.
Balancing Safety and Design
George Washington University auto safety professor Samer Hamdar raised concerns about the limited “crumple zones” in the Cybertruck. Crumple zones are crucial in absorbing the energy of an impact during a crash. However, he also acknowledged the possibility of other shock-absorbent mechanisms compensating for this limitation.
Market Impact and Regulatory Challenges
Priced starting at $60,990, the Cybertruck is not expected to be a high-volume vehicle like Tesla’s Model Y. Musk anticipates a production rate of about 250,000 Cybertrucks a year by 2025. However, the safety concerns are not just limited to the occupants. David Friedman, former acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pointed out the potential risks in a collision with other vehicles, especially those with crumple zones.
Julia Griswold, director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research Center, expressed alarm over the crash test videos, citing the truck’s heavy weight and high acceleration as “red flags for non-occupants.”
The European Challenge
Tesla has not confirmed whether the Cybertruck will be sold in Europe. EU safety rules, which focus on protecting pedestrians by limiting external protrusions, could pose a challenge for the Cybertruck’s sale in the region. The European Transport Safety Council has already expressed hope that Tesla does not bring the Cybertruck to Europe, citing its potential lethality in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.
Regulatory Compliance and Future Outlook
In the U.S., vehicle makers self-test and certify their adherence to safety standards. Musk has stated that the Cybertruck has passed regulatory review, and the first dozen trucks have been released to buyers. However, the concerns raised by safety experts highlight the need for a balance between innovative design and the safety of all road users.
As Tesla forges ahead with its ambitious Cybertruck, the automotive industry and regulatory bodies will be closely watching how these safety concerns are addressed, potentially setting precedents for future vehicle designs.