Why Is The Tesla Cybertruck A Giant Triangle?

November 24th, 2019 by  

Why is the Tesla Cybertruck a giant triangle? The list of potential answers below is randomly ordered, not in order of importance. Some of the reasons are more speculative than others and may be incorrect or coincidental/unintended:

1.) The Tesla Cybertruck is shaped like a triangle so it can win a race backward. Yes, that is mostly a joke, but it certainly is a conceivable feat. Imagine a fan-made video or commercial where the Cybertruck beats another vehicle backwards! Not sure if the powertrain design will allow for this, but the aerodynamics should.

2.) While Cybertruck’s design is a shocking departure from a conventional pickup, in general, symmetry is naturally viewed as more beautiful. There may be many benefits to having a more symmetrical design. I expect the symmetry of the Cybertruck to grow on people. Of course, the Cybertruck is not perfectly symmetrical, but it is more symmetrical than a conventional pickup truck.

3.) The triangular design improves the center of mass, creating a more balanced vehicle. It’s going to be very rare for this vehicle to flip.

4.) Safety. The triangular design allows the passengers to be centered closer to the midpoint of the car. Doing so further protects passengers from both forward and rear collisions.

5.) The more symmetrical design may increase the ease of manufacturing.

6.) My next speculation may be a bit absurd, but I think its rationale is based on first principles and economics.  I think it is likely the Cybertruck platform could be altered to build shuttles for use in The Boring Company tunnels. Or, at least, lessons learned from the Cybertruck could apply towards building the future shuttles. The two vehicles may share many parts. To date, all The Boring Company projects are loops comprised of two tunnels; one for each direction. However, a project does not have to have two tunnels; it can have only one.

Imagine a single tunnel where a platoon of Cybertrucks (or shuttles) just goes back and forth from point A to point B like the video game pong. In this configuration, there is no need to ever turn the shuttles around. This is how many metro trains operate. This type of tunnel project would be quite short, so that departure times still occur frequently. I could imagine such a tunnel connecting an airport to a train station, or a stadium to an event center. Pardon the poor Microsoft Paint diagram, which illustrates this single tunnel concept:

7.) The Cybertruck is shaped like a triangle to be different and really garner attention. The Cybertruck is no doubt polarizing. So far, most people love it or hate it! But that constant debate brings attention and certainly just seeing the Cybertruck makes it immediately recognizable.

Allow me to bring up an illustrative but imperfect analogy: Kim Kardashian. Kim is certainly a polarizing person, but so much of her business is based upon the constant polarizing attention she gets. Whether people love her or love judging and condemning her, they are clicking on articles about her. The constant clicks give her an audience to generate income from. This example is repeated over and over again in commerce and media. Howard Stern has made a fortune by being polarizing. He stood out among DJs because he was so shocking. The Cybertruck has shock value in spades.

8.) It is all about the cold rolled steel! The exterior steel alloy of the Cybertruck is extremely hard and durable. As such, it may be easier to manufacture if the design is comprised of flat surfaces and abrupt angles. The harder material could require much more effort (expense) if fabricated to create a more curved design.

So, it’s really the material that may be dictating the shape. Tesla’s other vehicles have had smoother, more aerodynamic curves, which are allowed via a much softer metal alloy. The triangular Cybertruck is aerodynamic enough. Tesla has created a balance between being aerodynamic enough but also using a material that may economically demand a more linear design with abrupt angles.

9.) Tesla is finally considering putting solar panels on a vehicle. This triangular design creates a flat, sloped surface to which solar cells can be attached. Initially, it appears the solar will just be on the back of the Cybertruck. Could solar be embedded in the glass? Maybe. Initially, the goal is to get 15 miles of range from solar per day. The aspirational goal is 30 miles.

For the most part, solar on a vehicle is considered a gimmick and uneconomical. The argument is: “Just put solar on your roof or carport to charge your vehicle; it will be cheaper.” However, having a vehicle generate its own power is very compelling to a number of individuals. I love the idea of a road trip where I go only as far as my solar panels can take me.

Every day, I could go 10–20 miles to a new camp spot and still have power. Or every three days I could for 30-60 miles to a new camp spot. Or, I could drive 200 miles into the remote wilderness, camp a week, and have enough power to drive back without needing a Supercharge. To some, it’s a gimmick. To others like me, it is a challenge. It will feel like traveling the Oregon trail. I can only go as far as my oxen (solar panels) will take me.

Over time, solar cell efficiency will improve and allow more daily range produced from solar.

10.) This comment comes courtesy of commentator JerryRCD. It has a triangular design because it can. The Cybertuck’s design is formed around a flat EV skateboard architecture which contains small but incredibly powerful electric motor(s). The shape of a conventional truck is designed around a massive internal combustion engine and the pickup bed. No need to stick with the old design that was created around an obsolete internal combustion engine. The conventional pickup truck design is not optimized for the EV skateboard architecture.

11.) It looks like a stealth bomber!

12, 13, …) Comment section. Let us know what you think. Also, feel free to abbreviate the reasons above and rearrange them in order of importance.

I actually think #8, if correct, might be the #1 reason. I am not certain about #8, though; it was an idea proposed in this great HyperChange video:

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About the Author

I am a jock turned wannabe geek. I fell in love with science later in life thanks to the History Channel show the “Universe.” Having taught middle school science, I strongly feel Astronomy should be taught every year because nothing excites students more than learning about the cosmos. I became an avid cleantech fan because it gives me hope about the future. My wife, my dogs, and I live simply because we love to travel the world backpacker style.