Why Does Tesla's Cybertruck Look Like It Belongs In A Low-Res Video Game?

the new Tesla Cybertruck
(Image credit: Tesla)

No, you haven't been sucked into a low-res video game — the new Tesla Cybertruck just looks like an animated armored vehicle whose pixels are taking a while to render. 

In September, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk teased that Tesla's new electric pickup truck would look "futuristic-like" and "cyberpunk," as if it were plucked from the sci-fi movie "Blade Runner," the Observer reported. And indeed, with its triangular profile, it looks a bit like a shiny, gabled roof on wheels. 

When Musk rolled out the Cybertruck last night (Nov. 21), the truck's strikingly angular design certainly caught people's eyes, but auto experts say the look has as much to do with function as form.

Unlike many pickup trucks, the Cybertruck has a unibody design, meaning the vehicle is built around a metal scaffolding, according to TechCrunch. In standard pickup trucks, the vehicle's body rests atop a metal frame that both supports the engine and absorbs physical stresses. A unibody design, common in passenger cars and many SUVs, significantly cuts down on a vehicle's overall bulk while also providing a protected place to stash batteries inside the body — a key feature for a Tesla. In the Cybertruck, the batteries sit under the vehicle but remain shielded by the body of the car; the same arrangement which would not work in a bed-on-frame truck.

But the Cybertruck isn't the only pickup with a unibody design, TechCrunch noted. The Honda Ridgeline has the same basic structure, and both trucks require extra reinforcements to match the might of bulkier pickups. Traditional pickup trucks can tow huge loads because their hefty frames take on the stress from the towed weight. To prevent unibody trucks from bending and twisting under pressure, engineers place reinforcing pillars at strategic points within the vehicles, according to TechCrunch. The sharp edges of the Cybertruck's frame belie the location of some of these pillars.

See more

With these reinforcing pillars in place, the Cybertruck boasts a maximum towing capacity of 14,000 lbs. (6,350 kilograms) and a payload of 3,500 lbs. (1,580 kg), according to Outside magazine. Although powerful, the truck body remains lightweight thanks to its stainless steel monocoque frame. The reduced weight enables the all-wheel-drive model to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in just 2.9 seconds, even though its battery alone weighs more than 1,000 lbs. (450 kg). 

The same stainless steel used for the Cybertruck encases SpaceX's Starship spacecraft, the Observer reported, and Tesla claims the metal will resist dents, corrosion and even bullets. The truck's "armored glass" windows proved less impressive, though. Tesla's chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, chucked a steel ball at not one, but two windows during the unveiling event, shattering both. 

"It didn't go through, so that's a plus side," Musk said; "room for improvement."

See more

Originally published on Live Science.

All About Space Holiday 2019

Need more space? Subscribe to our sister title "All About Space" Magazine for the latest amazing news from the final frontier! (Image credit: All About Space)

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Nicoletta Lanese
Live Science Staff Writer

Nicoletta Lanese is a staff writer for Live Science covering health and medicine, along with an assortment of biology, animal, environment and climate stories. She holds degrees in neuroscience and dance from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in The Scientist Magazine, Science News, The San Jose Mercury News and Mongabay, among other outlets.

  • capoprimo
    My 10 year old grandson created LEGO creations that are significantly more elaborate both in function and appearance.
  • jpdemers
    I think the origami-like looks derive from the fact that the super-hard steel that the body is made from can only be bent, and not formed into elegantly-shaped panels like more mallable steels and aluminum alloys.
  • DrBill
    I like it. It's distinctive and easily avoided on roads. They should just add lights and a flag, maybe a flagman to alert us.
  • Lovethrust
    It does not look very practical, a feature most look for in a truck. Of course the Hollywood poser crowd will buy a few.