Tesla's Cybertruck, known for its angular design and stainless-steel exoskeleton, is causing safety experts to express concerns about potential harm to pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles on the road.
Reuters interviewed six safety professors and officials who reviewed crash test videos conducted by Tesla during a webcast delivery event. While the videos were widely discussed on social media, experts emphasized the need for detailed crash-test data to form conclusive opinions on safety.
Adrian Lund, former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), highlighted potential issues with the stiff stainless-steel exterior, suggesting that it could cause more damage to individuals upon impact. Tesla CEO Elon Musk countered these concerns, expressing confidence that the Cybertruck would surpass the safety standards for both occupants and pedestrians.
The Cybertruck, featuring a visually distinct flat design with long, linear edges, is Tesla's first vehicle with a stainless-steel exterior since the DeLorean in 1985. The company asserted that the cold-rolled stainless body panels are designed to absorb impact during a crash, with energy-absorbing ribs in the front and rear structures.
While some safety experts raised concerns about limited “crumple zones,” others suggested the possibility of shock-absorbent mechanisms compensating for this potential drawback. The Cybertruck, starting at $60,990, is not expected to be a high-volume vehicle like Tesla's Model Y, but Musk envisions a production rate of around 250,000 Cybertrucks per year by 2025.
Yes, we are highly confident that Cybertruck will be much safer per mile than other trucks, both for occupants and pedestrians https://t.co/RydoYYn4FU
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 5, 2023
Experts focused much of their concern on the impact on those outside the Cybertruck in the event of a collision. David Friedman, former acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, noted the potential imbalance in crash scenarios, where a Cybertruck could resist damage while the other vehicle might crush more easily.
Julia Griswold, director of the University of California, Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, expressed alarm after viewing Tesla's crash test videos. She highlighted the heavy weight and high acceleration of the trucks as potential red flags for non-occupants.
Although Tesla has not confirmed whether it will sell Cybertrucks in Europe, concerns have been raised about EU safety rules that limit external protrusions to protect pedestrians. The European Transport Safety Council urged caution, stating that a vehicle of the Cybertruck's size, power, and weight could be lethal in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.
U.S. regulators rely on automakers to self-test and certify adherence to safety standards. Musk stated that the Cybertruck had passed regulatory review, and the first dozen trucks were recently released to buyers.