Why Isn’t the Tesla Cybertruck Here Yet? Development Issues Reportedly Plagued Early Prototypes

The Cybertruck is nearing full production status, but this helps explain why the road's been this long

(Image: Cybertruckownersclub.com)

Despite issues along the way, Tesla promises the Cybertruck will launch this year.

It takes a massive amount of time, energy and resources to develop a completely new vehicle, and the Tesla Cybertruck is a prime example. If you don’t remember the debut, I don’t blame you, since it was all the way back in 2019. It’s been nearly four years since we first experienced the brand’s out-there, futuristic truck. We figured the team probably had some hurdles to overcome when CEO Elon Musk broke its “armored glass” window on stage during the presentation, but new reports point to deeper issues that delayed the Cybertruck’s launch this long.

German outlet Handelsblatt reported on a leaked internal report and Wired also went to great length explaining the problems. When the armored glass incident happened on stage, Musk laughed it off, noting “there’s room for improvement.” Turns out, that was a remarkably conscientious statement for the project as a whole, as the leaked document covers alpha-level issues ranging from the suspension to noise and vibration levels, braking and handling. Basically, the fundamentals to developing a usable vehicle.

Against the company’s internal projections and simulations, the Tesla Cybertruck reportedly ended up with seal issues affecting both noise and watertightness. Although engineers hand-sealed the prototype trucks as you’d probably expect, the report notes that “there are a number of areas that we do not have a clear path to sealing” for the production version. They identified at least 21 potential noise leak areas in the Cybertruck’s body — a notable challenge when you consider its angular design and stainless steel alloy construction.

No comment from Tesla on the Cybertruck’s status (at least right this moment)

Structural design issues in the report persist through at least March 2022, and the documents don’t cover potential problems with the electric motors, battery packs, or onboard software. Still, Musk (and Tesla, by extension) insists the Cybertruck will enter serial production later this year, with greater volumes coming in 2024.

Of course, the entire purpose of alpha-stage vehicles is to identify and correct issues far before they ever make it to serial production. While the recent Handelsblatt report notes 23,000 files obtained from around the globe between 2015 and 2022, there’s little perspective to recent updates. It does buttress Tesla’s decisions to delay the Cybertruck multiple times over the past couple years, though the company itself has not made any public comment around these reports, as of Friday.

The general consensus among analysts, shareholders and anxious customers alike, though, is that the Tesla Cybertruck needs to move through the remaining production stages as quickly as possible.

Tesla rapidly needs a new hit vehicle

When the company first opened pre-orders, it sold the idea of a base model starting right under $40,000. However, given the reported manufacturing challenges and Musk’s own admission to shareholders last year, the specifications and pricing will undoubtedly start off far higher than that original figure. If Tesla can navigate the build quality issues outlined in the report for its earlier variants and its stainless steel body passes muster with safety regulators in the U.S. and Europe, it will likely still sell plenty of Cybertrucks.

Between its aging model line — the Model S is 10 years old and the Model 3 turns six next month, remember — and hammering out its Full Self-Driving technology, Tesla is juggling quite a few important projects. Arguably, none are more important for Tesla’s immediate (and perhaps even long-term) prospects than the Cybertruck.

Over the past few months, there has been some optimism by way of Tesla’s stock price bounce-back and sales volumes, aided by the company’s recent price cuts to woo more customers in the wake of increasing market competition. Early Friday morning, the stock traded at its highest point so far this year, while share prices have increased 36% over the past six months, to around $242.50 per share.

It’s unthinkable the Tesla Cybertruck will be canceled at this late juncture, so we will see the production truck at some point. One question is still exactly when that will happen, naturally, but these latest reports shed light into why it’s taking so long.

This year’s shareholder event that took place a few years ago was the truck’s latest outing, so hopefully we’ll have more information on the truck’s inevitable launch soon.