Leaked Tesla documents show Cybertruck prototype struggles, explain production delay

Tesla unveiled the distinctive-looking Cybertruck in 2019 in an infamous display. Since then, the all-electric pickup truck’s production and market availability dates have encountered numerous delays. It’s easy to blame global supply chain disruptions, but a recent leak suggests that more serious design problems are at fault.

A recently leaked internal Tesla report suggests that the Cybertruck had significant issues with its braking, handling, sealing, and noise levels as of January 2022. These flaws could be behind the electric vehicle’s ongoing production delays.

The leak, which also exposed thousands of serious customer complaints about Tesla’s self-driving software to Handelsblatt last month, contained a concerning progress report on the Cybertruck. Notably, early last year – two full years after the truck’s unveiling – the Cybertruck’s design remained in the alpha stage, contradicting initial promises of starting production in 2021.

The report, analyzed by Handelsblatt and Wired, indicates that the vehicle required manual sealing and produced substantially more noise than initial simulations predicted. It also revealed that the engineers lacked a clear strategy for effectively sealing an eventual production model.

Furthermore, the Cybertruck’s handling was plagued by issues such as structural shaking, “mid-speed abruptness and chop,” and “high head-toss accelerations.” Low-speed maneuvering resulted in excessive lateral jerking in the alpha design. The brake pad also remained unfinished, exhibiting excessive travel, inconsistent stopping, problems with braking while turning, power braking instability, and “excessive pitch during friction braking.”

Considering the report’s age and the resources available to Tesla, none of these problems should be insurmountable. It’s likely the company’s engineers may have addressed some, if not all, of these issues by now. However, these problems still suggest that the Cybertruck’s design process has not proceeded as planned.

The pickup drew some ridicule after its unveiling, where its windows failed a live durability demonstration (although the main body outperformed a standard truck). The subsequent production delays have not helped. Tesla initially projected that mass production would begin in 2021 before pushing it back to late 2022, then late 2023, and now 2024. While the pandemic and the subsequent chip shortage that arose shortly after the initial reveal could have significantly impacted the Cybertruck’s development, the leak suggests that these aren’t its only problems.

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