Cybertruck is hard to make without panel gaps as bird droppings may result in stainless steel sanding

Cybertruck is hard to make without panel gaps as bird droppings may result in stainless steel sanding
The stainless steel may turn out high maintenance (image: Jordi Cor/YT)
The stainless steel may turn out high maintenance (image: Jordi Cor/YT)

With the last great stainless steel car being a DeLorean, the Cybertruck’s finish might require higher maintenance than the choice of body material would suggest. Tesla engineers have now disclosed how hard to form and fit the stainless steel panels turned out to be.

Elon Musk’s aspired Cybertruck release date was pushed back by two months to November 30. One of the main reasons for the Cybertruck’s delay is said to be the choice of stainless steel for its body. A new report now sheds light on the challenges that Tesla engineers faced when they had to deal with the rare car building material.

It turns out that, while “forming stainless steel is not rocket science,” as per Tesla’s VP of engineering, it is certainly way more challenging than the typical aluminum alloys automakers use for their vehicles. For starters, Tesla had to use a custom stainless steel alloy developed together with Aperam which would meet Elon Musk’s “bulletproof” requirements and be resistant to corrosion without the coats of paints layered on other vehicles. These are two of the big advantages of stainless steel as material, so Tesla took its time in order to fully capitalize on them.

The cold-rolled stainless steel sheets that arrived from the factory, however, proved challenging to straighten and cut into panels. The rolls tended to circle back to the shape they were brought in, so Tesla couldn’t stamp out the Cybertruck’s panels as usual, but rather had to laser each piece individually and then malleableize them into the respective form of a door or hood.

The process required extreme precision in order to cut and shape the pieces in a way that will result in subsequent assembly without the huge panel gaps that could easily form. Judging from the first Cybertruck display units that Tesla started delivering to select showrooms and service centers across the country last week, panel gaps won’t be something that Cybertruck owners will have to worry about.

What may start to worry them, however, is the stainless steel finish maintenance, despite popular opinion that it shouldn’t require much of that. There is a dedicated Cyber Shield stainless steel cleaner that Tesla developed with detailing giant Auto Renu, for instance, and the showroom reps keep polishing the Cybertruck with it many times a day, according to several observations.

On the other hand, despite that stainless steel is tough and corrosion-resistant by its very nature, if the Cybertruck gets banged up badly to the point of dents appearing, or if bird and fly droppings stay on its finish long enough to form a spot, both of those advantages go out of the window.

According to one Chris Nicholson, who specializes in stainless steel finish maintenance, mainly of DeLoreans owned by collectors across the globe, the material can absolutely get dents, scratches, and dark spots. To fix those, he often has to resort to removing the top finish layer and then sanding the spot. He is of the opinion that Cybertruck owners “are going to have to learn how to do this,” if they want to keep their pickup looking tough yet as pristine as it came out of the Texas Gigafactory.

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The Cybertruck's tailored Cyber Shield stainless steel polish
The Cybertruck’s tailored Cyber Shield stainless steel polish

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