Waiting for the delivery of your Tesla Cybertruck may last well into 2024. Elon Musk unveiled the fact that the company is going to roll their all-electric pickup trucks in lesser quantities starting this year and it won’t see full volume production until 2024. Nevertheless, it leaves customers wondering what is taking them so long. Afterall, other manufacturers who debuted their all-electric pickup trucks after the Cybertruck , like the Rivian R1T and Ford’s F-150 Lightning have already gone on sale and begun deliveries. One long-time automotive journalist, Jack Ewing of the New York Times believes the usage of stainless steel is a major contributing factor.
The ingredients used to make stainless steel alone, particularly nickel, are in high demand. Therefore, pricing and availability is under constraint. This is especially true for 304 stainless steel, which consists of chromium (between 18% and 20%) and nickel (between 8% and 10.5%), according to the SAE. In fact, nickel prices saw record highs last year off the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as demand from the auto industry at large, as its a key element in EV battery production. Just the same, nickel in stainless steel is required for more conventional ICE vehicles in various engine parts.
The article goes on, noting that the physical properties of stainless steel, more specifically its tendency to spring back to its original shape, mean it cannot be stamped into shape as easily as a normal car. However, the article didn’t mention that stainless steel shapes can be formed with a press brake, which is cost effective.
Perhaps not necessarily due to the process of forming stainless steel, but because of materials cost, it is likely that the advertised $40,000 price tag for the base truck back in 2019 goes out the window.
With the absence of the Cybertruck, we see pricing issues manifest in earlier-to-market electric trucks. For example, the F-150 Lighting (XLT) prices have inflated 40 percent, now starting at just over $60,000 ($63,474), the Rivian R1T saw delays in sought-after packages, and even the six-figure GMC Hummer EV saw an increase in price.
Then there’s the safety element. Vehicles on the road today feature specific areas that are designed to crumple and absorb impacts in the event of a collision. The Cybertruck, likely to be classified as a DOT Class 2b truck because of its heft, does not require things like crumple zones, or air bags, to be compliant. And you can forget about the triviality of pedestrian safety measures.
There is some good news though. The new Tesla assembly plant in Texas has had its grand opening, the company has started hiring factory workers to help build it and Tesla is refining its window making process so as not to be embarrassed again during another demo, needless to say, things are moving along, albeit slower than anyone expected.