With a variety of brand-new vehicles emerging in the world of innovation as of late, one that stood out amongst the rest was Elon Musk’s Cybertruck. With its bulky exterior and tank-like model, one might wonder about the aerodynamics of this electric machine that will eventually be making its way into the market.
The Cybertruck is aerodynamic because of its unique shape, structure of the wheels, and low drag coefficient. These factors make the Cybertruck more aerodynamic compared to trucks of similar bulk, but a final determination cannot be made until large-scale production and testing of Cybertrucks.
There are many nuances and details in the craft of the Cybertruck that impact its ability to be aerodynamic. Read on to learn more about the varying pieces and parts that impact the aerodynamics this vehicle will experience on the road given current models.
The Aerodynamic Shape of the Cybertruck
The Cybertruck is constructed uniquely. Unlike most other cars, its curves are hard and straight instead of the rounded soft shape of the typical vehicle. This changes the curvature of air over the car in several ways.
There are many aerodynamic benefits to this boxy structure. However, some disadvantages set the Cybertruck back against its competitors in terms of propelling airflow.
Advantages of the Structure
Airflow off of the top of the Cybertruck is the largest benefit of the shape. From the current side view, it seems as though the slanted front of the vehicle will allow air to:
- Split, flowing evenly above and below the truck
- Flow, rather than gather
- Push the vehicle forward on the road to an extent
These items permit the Cybertruck to operate as a wedge, allowing the air that flows past to push it forward on the road. The structure is unique, and it will be exciting to see how the final model works on the road. There is only so much that can be predicted without wide use on the market.
Until large scale production and usage of the Cybertruck begins, completely accurate predictions cannot be made on Cybertruck aerodynamics and performance. Most predictions based on the current state of the body are positive in terms of its aerodynamic ability. There has never been a vehicle like this sold on the market, so Cybertrucks are in many ways an experimental project.
Disadvantages of the Structure
This unique structure has its disadvantages, as well. One major issue includes the fact that current Cybertruck designs do not have bumpers or side mirrors. These could disrupt the predicted airflow of the vehicle. Other disadvantages of the design include:
- Slightly detached airflow over the top of the vehicle, resulting in the faster wind than the speed of the car
- Drag due to the bulky, covered rear
- Vortex creation with the eventual addition of bumpers
Without the additional safety measures that must be installed, the Crybertruck would be aerodynamic to a point that has not been seen before. However, the safety features will alter that a bit. It will not make the Cybertruck obsolete. The design still warrants great airflow even with the additions.
Considering the Necessary Future Attachments
One issue with the current design of the Cyrbertruck, as discussed above, is its lack of mirrors and bumpers. Currently, it is not legal to not have these on a car selling in the United States. The Cybertruck also has LED light strips which, while cool, are also not legal yet. If these must be added on, what will happen to the Cybertruck?
The most likely event is that the design will become less efficient. The lights, mirrors, and bumpers will add a level of bulk that will disrupt the smooth, futuristic shell of the Cybertruck. Its drag coefficient will go up and it will be on par with many other trucks, just bigger.
The current structure is quite aerodynamic for a car of this size. Nonetheless, this could all change with the addition of these attachments. The only thing to do with this question is to wait and see what the final product looks like when it rolls onto the market for the first time.
The Effect of the Car Material
Elon Musk’s Cybertruck is made out of stainless steel. This solid material allows the vehicle to be shaped and formed in a way that limits the number of cracks and crevices that can be seen on the surface of the vehicle.
This seamless quality can help the vehicle to be more aerodynamic by:
- Reducing cracks in which the air can get caught
- Providing a smooth surface for air to pass over
This flat body is as smooth and slippery as it could be. The downside is that, if any dents are created on the surface, it might impact the overall aerodynamics. Repairs would have to be made to return the Cybertruck to its full drag coefficient.
The fact that the body is so smooth says a lot about how aerodynamic the Cybertruck will be. Most cars are smooth, but not to the level of this. Their aluminum surfacing permits many more dents and scratches than the stainless steel of the Cybertruck.
The Benefits of Hidden Details
The Cybertruck boasts many hidden details that serve to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle. These have been carefully thought through to ensure that they make sense on a surface as smooth as the Cybertruck.
Though these may not even be noticed at first, they are important. These reduce the overall drag and will likely help the Cybertruck to cut through the air more efficiently and with little drag. This will result in less energy to be expended by the vehicle to travel the same distance. The more aerodynamic a truck is, the more energy efficient it is as well.
A Unique Hidden Trunk and Bed
Unlike many trucks that are as large and powerful as the Cybertruck, this vehicle does not have an exposed bed in the back. The top of the truck folds over and hides it from view when the Cybertruck is in motion.
By putting a cover on top of the bed, the Cybertruck can:
- Prevent air from getting caught inside the bed area
- Protect the items inside the vehicle
- Stop air from being trapped within items sitting inside of the bed area
Of course, other trucks have covers for the bed area. However, none of them are the shape of the Cybertruck. The way that it is structured is one of the most aerodynamic methods that a truck could adapt to prevent unwanted airflow in the trunk area.
This hidden bed is another way that the Cybertruck allows for a seamless body. This ingenious technique allows for the vehicle to maximize aerodynamic ability wherever it is possible.
A Built-in Light Strip on the Front
Rather than headlights on the front of the car, the Cybertruck boasts a strip of light that has been sunken into the front, back, and top of the vehicle. These illuminate just like regular light and do not withhold any kind of vision from the driver.
Having headlights that do not stick out like a typical vehicle’s comes in handy for the aerodynamics of the car. This is because:
- They do not jut out, allowing for air to pass smoothly over the vehicle
- They provide fewer seams in the truck
This detail might seem small, but it helps so much with the drag coefficient. A light that juts out can impact the drag right off the bat. By avoiding this, Tesla has created a smooth run for the airflow that occurs at high speeds on highways across the country.
Of course, this built-in LED strip is not legal yet for driving on the road. Those intrigued by this aerodynamic shape will have to wait and see what happens with this particular addition. It may stay, but it may need to be replaced by actual light to meet safety standards set out across the country.
A Lack of a Gas Tank
The Cybertruck is an electric vehicle. Thus, it does not require a gas tank to be situated on its side like most trucks. Rather than a nozzle on the side, the Cybertruck has a plug-in for a charger hidden in the right rear taillight. This is the same across the board for vehicles that are created by Tesla.
Without a gas tank on the side, the Cybertruck:
- Removes yet another crack that air might get stuck inside
- Allows symmetry in airflow on both sides of the vehicle
- Completes the seamless look that makes the Cybertruck so unique and aerodynamic
A gas tank on the side would have taken away from the overall smooth surface of the Cybertruck. This is, again, such a small detail that is easy to miss. As a gas-powered truck, this vehicle would not operate in such an efficient manner. Its electric base is what makes it work so well.
The Wheel Coverings of the Cybertruck
The Cybertruck has wheel covers that come over the top of each one, providing an excellent aesthetic addition to an intense vehicle. This steampunk look might help or hinder the Cybertruck in a variety of ways.
The benefits and disadvantages of the wheels in terms of making this vehicle aerodynamic depend on the shape and bulk of each piece. It is hard to predict now, but there are a couple of methods for estimating how these wheel coverings will affect the Cybertruck’s aerodynamics.
Possible Benefits of the Wheel Coverings
Since the wheel coverings can be altered and shifted before release, it is possible that they could help with the aerodynamics of the Cybertruck. For this to happen, the wheel coverings would need to be:
- Less bulky, pressing closer to the side of the vehicle
- Streamlined to allow airflow to pass over them rather than running into them
- Rounded, to push the air over in a gentler fashion
With these changes, the wheel coverings could help make the Cybertruck as aerodynamic as it could be. There is a potential for them to be great additions to this vehicle.
Wheel coverings are not a necessity, but it seems that Tesla is going to apply them to this vehicle. They fit with the look that they are going for, and hopefully, that look will allow the wheels to benefit the aerodynamics of the Cybertruck.
Possible Negative Impacts of the Wheel Coverings
With the current design, the wheel covers seem to be bulky to match the futuristic design. This might serve to be a problem for the airflow of the vehicle. Having bulky wheel coverings could:
- Halt any air movement that the flat bottom creates
- Force air to press up against the car
- Add additional bulkiness to the vehicle
The flat design might work well for the body of the car, but it might hurt the wheel coverings if they are designed in the same way. The bulkiness could negate everything that the flat bottom adds to the vehicle.
Though it is more likely that the wheel coverings will fit more with the slender, efficient design of the truck, it is always possible that they may take away from it as well. Only time will tell.
The Flat Bottom of the Cybertruck
Most trucks of the size and weight of the Cybertruck have a complex bottom, full of ridges and divots that house various car parts. Since the Cybertruck is electric, it has a flat bottom. This allows wind to pass underneath without getting caught inside one of the many grooves.
For a massive truck, this is a huge deal. The flat bottom will:
- Allow airflow to pass through the bottom without coming into contact with bulky parts and pieces
- Allow the airflow to split naturally
This has been seen in other vehicles created by Elon Musk’s company, such as the ever-popular Tesla. This feature is available due to the car’s use of a battery pack rather than the traditional motor.
Since this has not been seen on the road yet, this flat bottom is not yet proven to help with the aerodynamics of the vehicle. However, by comparing it with Tesla Model 3, it is safe to say that it will have some impact on the final product.
The Low Drag Coefficient of the Cybertruck
According to early predictions and notes from Elon Musk himself, the Cybertruck is predicted to have a low drag coefficient. This number comes from:
- The drag, or how much air is pushing the vehicle back
- The density of the vehicle
- Velocity, or the rate at which the car changes its position
- Reference area, or the total surface area of the vehicle in operation
All of these items are compiled into a formula that will result in a decimal number. The closer this number is to 0, the better the drag coefficient is. This number shows how much drag occurs when the vehicle is moving through fluid elements such as air or water.
Normally, trucks have a high drag coefficient due to their bulkiness and the items that stick out from their shell. The Cybertruck intends to change that with its design.
Elon Musk’s Drag Coefficient Prediction
In early looks at the Tesla Cybertruck, Elon Musk himself predicted that the vehicle would end up with a drag coefficient of 0.3, which would place it only .07 less aerodynamic than the much smaller Tesla Model 3. This drag coefficient would vastly set it apart from other trucks of its size, which average closer to 0.45.
The problem with this prediction is that only Elon Musk has access to the vehicle. Scientists and car-lovers alike cannot assess the most accurate drag coefficient until the final model arrives. This model will include bulkier legal additions such as bumpers, mirrors, and wheel coverings.
Other Drag Coefficient Predictions
Many physicists and scientists have attempted to calculate their drag coefficient based on the information currently available for the Cybertruck. These calculations have been different from the numbers generated by Elon Musk. Some of them include:
- .427 (could lower to .387 if the wheels rotate and do not have covers)
These drag coefficients are a bit higher than Musk’s prediction. When factoring in mirrors, bumpers, and wheel coverings, the slightly higher numbers seem as though they are more probable.
Regardless, any of these numbers are small for a large truck such as the Cybertruck. Many are over .50 when they are finally done and released onto the market. The Cybertruck will likely serve as one of the trucks with the lowest drag coefficients on the market.
Although the Cybertruck has its spots in which airflow is tricky, it is overall aerodynamic for something of its stature and size. With a flat bottom, unique design, and many other factors, it should be able to drive down the road without worrying about too much drag.
Compared to other trucks of its size and shape, this vehicle has adapted to airflow well. It will be exciting to see how this product operates once it is widely available on the market. This change will happen soon, and there is little doubt that the entire world is watching for this vehicle.