27 votes

Tesla Made a Pickup Truck for the End of the World

23 comments

  1. [13]
    Grzmot
    Link
    I don't think this article is right. The Cybertruck is very clearly advertised like a car for the end of the world, but it's very much not one. The reason for this that for all it's rugged,...

    I don't think this article is right. The Cybertruck is very clearly advertised like a car for the end of the world, but it's very much not one. The reason for this that for all it's rugged, supposedly bulletproof exterior, the thing is still a highly complex machine. To see basic information like how fast you're going, you need a functioning touchscreen, a highly sophisticated piece of tech that, if it fails in a post apocalyptic scenario, you can't fix yourself. Forget anything about fixing the motor, lol.

    Machinery fails. Combustion engines are already fairly complex, but in their most simple form, an experienced user can fix them with spare parts. You can't do that with electrical engines or batteries. Even more so, batteries weaken with time. Being able to charge the truck with solar energy is cool, but makes you dependent on the weather in a world where the electrical grid does not exist anymore. Gasoline, for all it's problems when it comes to the climate, is one of the most efficient ways to store energy.

    Most likely this thing was made to sell to a very specific crowd of people, not doomsday preppers. The only problem with the cybertruck is that it has so much power under the hood and the exterior being so strong, I don't know what's going to happen in an accident. To the people in it, or the cars unfortunate enough involved in the accident. Considering that the thing doesn't even have side mirrors right now, I doubt much testing went into the security side of things.

    29 votes
    1. [7]
      mat
      Link Parent
      EVs are far simpler than ICEs. Probably fewer people know how to maintain or repair a battery or electric motor just because there are less of them about, but that doesn't mean they can't be...

      Combustion engines are already fairly complex, but in their most simple form, an experienced user can fix them with spare parts. You can't do that with electrical engines or batteries.

      EVs are far simpler than ICEs. Probably fewer people know how to maintain or repair a battery or electric motor just because there are less of them about, but that doesn't mean they can't be fixed. Electric motors are, essentially, just a few wires and some magnets. The simplest ICE is still hundreds of parts and a modern engine is thousands, with incredibly tight tolerances.

      In a scenario where there's no electrical grid, there isn't going to be an oil extraction and processing network to produce fuel for you. At least the sun is going to keep shining. In a post-apocalyptic scenario I'd definitely be going around pulling solar panels from roofs and stealing EVs.

      25 votes
      1. [3]
        pseudolobster
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Wholeheartedly agreed. I've been driving an electric scooter/motorcycle for 6 years now, and over that time I've upgraded pretty much every part of it. I've pushed every part of it past its rated...

        Wholeheartedly agreed. I've been driving an electric scooter/motorcycle for 6 years now, and over that time I've upgraded pretty much every part of it. I've pushed every part of it past its rated power by at least double. I took it on a month-long cross-country trip towing a trailer full of solar panels. I've broken things then repaired them on the side of the road in the rain.

        It can't be overstated how simple these things are. There is literally only one moving part on a bldc hubmotor - the rim of the wheel. If I smoke the coils of the motor, I could rewind it using speaker wire. I once killed the hall effect sensors, but in an apocalypse situation I could switch my controller to sensorless operation. The only part with any real complexity is the motor controller, which would require electronics knowledge to fix if it broke. But this is no different than the ECU on a car. If the electronics go on your ECU you're not driving anywhere. There are open-source controllers out there that if you scavenged enough broken electronics you could probably build out of scrap. It's unlikely you could build a new ECU for your car if it died.

        I've managed to break some stuff on my bike, but that's only because I'm pushing things waaaay past their limit. It was designed for 500W, and I'm currently putting 12KW through it. If left everything at a sane value, it'd be far more reliable than any ICE bike. No oil changes, no cooling fluids, no gears or transmission. Just battery, controller, motor, throttle. That's it.


        Edit: On the car/truck scale, an open-source BLDC motor controller design that's probably capable of powering the CyberTruckTM recently won the Hackaday Prize (link). and I'm relatively certain you could gut all the infotainment touchscreen stuff and replace it with a "dumber" controller without too many problems. I'm not an EE, just a tinkerer, but I'm pretty sure given an apocalypse situation I could make it work. The "gas" pedal is probably just linked up to a potentiometer or maybe some 4-20mA current loop, and the motor is probably just a regular brushless DC motor. In a post-apocalypse situation you probably don't need a speedometer. The main concern would be figuring out the CAN bus protocol to talk to the battery to make sure it's balanced and doesn't explode. If it does though, you could probably wire together a couple dozen 12v car batteries to get it going again, probably with less range. Point being anyway, if you've got an intermediate grasp on electronics this stuff is far simpler than an internal combustion engine, easier to kludge something together, and we have enough scrap electronics laying around you could probably survive a lifetime or two pretty easily without being able to make new silicon.

        15 votes
        1. Gyrfalcon
          Link Parent
          For a more direct assessment of Tesla/electric vehicle endurance, check out this article. It talks about how high mileage fleet vehicles with electric drivetrains last far longer than their ICE...

          For a more direct assessment of Tesla/electric vehicle endurance, check out this article. It talks about how high mileage fleet vehicles with electric drivetrains last far longer than their ICE counterparts, with much lower maintenance costs to boot.

          4 votes
        2. Grzmot
          Link Parent
          Tesla's newer cars use permanent magnet motors (which is brushless), I assume that the Cybertruck is going to be the same. Fixing that might me more difficult as you'd have to acquire a strong...

          Tesla's newer cars use permanent magnet motors (which is brushless), I assume that the Cybertruck is going to be the same. Fixing that might me more difficult as you'd have to acquire a strong enough magnet. Though you could probably replace the entire thing with an induction motor if you can't find the materials.

      2. [3]
        Grzmot
        Link Parent
        Fair enough, I do admit I was talking out my ass there. My knowledge of electrical motors is fairly small. Although, how well can your repair a Tesla vehicle on your own, especially with it's...

        Fair enough, I do admit I was talking out my ass there. My knowledge of electrical motors is fairly small. Although, how well can your repair a Tesla vehicle on your own, especially with it's reliance on software? The Cybertruck specifically features a bunch of tech doodads which are going to fuck you up in an post-apocalyptic world, like sideview mirros being cameras for example.

        1. [2]
          mat
          Link Parent
          That is a good point. While a simple motor can be given an AC or DC current and it'll spin round, Telsa's motors will be software controlled. I'd still take a Cybertruck as a base for modification...

          how well can your repair a Tesla vehicle on your own, especially with it's reliance on software? The Cybertruck specifically features a bunch of tech doodads which are going to fuck you up in an post-apocalyptic world, like sideview mirros being cameras for example.

          That is a good point. While a simple motor can be given an AC or DC current and it'll spin round, Telsa's motors will be software controlled.

          I'd still take a Cybertruck as a base for modification to a post-apocalyptic vehicle over an ICE. There's billions of DC drives* out there to be cannibalised, any factory or logistics plant will have plenty of them. Hook one of those up to the motors and fiddle about until it works. It might not be all that efficient compared to the original system but it should be doable fairly easily. The post-apocalypse lack of oil processing is a much bigger hurdle to get over. Also, somewhat tangentially, I'd steal a load of EVs to use as battery banks for my solar powered wasteland base.

          As for the mirrors? Parking tidily and overtaking probably less of an issue when shit's got all Mad Max :)

          * there are two parts to electrical drive systems - the drive and the motor. The motor is the arrangement of magnets and wires that spins, the drive is the device which provides modulated angry pixies electricity to make the motor actually work, the drive controls speed and power and so on. Drives can be simple or complex, depending.

          1 vote
          1. Grzmot
            Link Parent
            Correct, but that they were replaced with cameras speaks of a design philosphy in the product that doesn't keep simplicity in mind; something terribly important when you need to repair your own...

            As for the mirrors? Parking tidily and overtaking probably less of an issue when shit's got all Mad Max :)

            Correct, but that they were replaced with cameras speaks of a design philosphy in the product that doesn't keep simplicity in mind; something terribly important when you need to repair your own stuff. There might be other areas which make self-repair more difficult because Tesla didn't approach the Cybertruck as a real post-apocalyptic vehicle, only advertised it as one.

            On the other counts, I do agree with you though. Except for the fact that the chassis of the Cybertruck relies on the insane power that the motor designed by Tesla provides. I think there's a good chance that you won't be able to effectively power the thing with a hombrew electrical engine.

    2. mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I agree this is not the audience of the Cybertruck. I think a good prepper, with enough money, should probably have more than one vehicle just in case: combustion, electrical and a bunch of...

      doomsday preppers

      I agree this is not the audience of the Cybertruck.

      I think a good prepper, with enough money, should probably have more than one vehicle just in case: combustion, electrical and a bunch of bicycles.

      edit1: from what I said, I can conclude this could be a good second vehicle for prepper... electrical has its issues, but between this other of the same category I'd choose this one.
      edit2: also horses and donkeys!!!!

      4 votes
    3. edenist
      Link Parent
      The biggest thing if we're talking about the breakdown of civilizations is gasoline production. Simply put, if the refineries shut down, all of the worlds gasoline will be useless after a few...

      The biggest thing if we're talking about the breakdown of civilizations is gasoline production. Simply put, if the refineries shut down, all of the worlds gasoline will be useless after a few years. You can't store it long term, and the entire worlds supply is basically just-in-time produced for this reason.

      If things completely go to hell, and you want to be completely self-sufficient, you're going to need an electric vehicle. You can run your own solar and wind power systems, you can't run your own crude oil refinery....

      4 votes
    4. Gyrfalcon
      Link Parent
      I think it's an interesting perspective on the design of the vehicle, but I will agree that from an operation perspective it is not ready for the apocalypse. That's not to say a simpler electric...

      I think it's an interesting perspective on the design of the vehicle, but I will agree that from an operation perspective it is not ready for the apocalypse. That's not to say a simpler electric vehicle would not be appropriate, since gasoline must be shipped in while a looted solar panel or a homebrew wind turbine could suffice for electricity. As far as maintenance goes, electric is already cheaper, though I am not sure how a supply chain collapse would effect electric and ICE vehicles differently.

      EDIT: I also think it's important to consider that a complete breakdown of the world in a short time is unlikely, but things could easily get bad for people on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. The Cybertruck may be more fitting for the wealthy insulating themselves from the problems of the poor in that situation.

      2 votes
    5. papasquat
      Link Parent
      You don't think much safety testing went into a production vehicle that's slated to be sold in a year?

      You don't think much safety testing went into a production vehicle that's slated to be sold in a year?

      2 votes
    6. Keegan
      Link Parent
      I believe they are to be replaced with cameras if I'm not mistaken.

      Considering that the thing doesn't even have side mirrors right now

      I believe they are to be replaced with cameras if I'm not mistaken.

      1 vote
  2. [8]
    Autoxidation
    Link
    It is supposedly getting a built in solar option, so it could quite literally be built for the end of the world.

    It is supposedly getting a built in solar option, so it could quite literally be built for the end of the world.

    7 votes
    1. [7]
      dredmorbius
      Link Parent
      The amount of solar power which can be generated by panels on a vehicle is going to be minuscule. The 15 miles is a best possible option. If you're stuck beyond civilisation, it might just...

      The amount of solar power which can be generated by panels on a vehicle is going to be minuscule. The 15 miles is a best possible option. If you're stuck beyond civilisation, it might just potentially be useful, but only very barely.

      A set of deployable panels / awning which could be erected in an emergency would make more sense. The panels used in The Martian would be an example. Better: carry a generator and fuel to recharge on the rare occasions you're well off-grid. The energy storage of liquid hydrocarbons is exceedingly hard to beat, and occasional emergency off-grid use would be a high-benefit use-case. (Marine and aircraft propulsion are two others.)

      15 votes
      1. [6]
        Autoxidation
        Link Parent
        Panels on cars isn't as poor as you make it out to be. Lightyear One is designed around this and anticipates 20,000 km of free range a year in the Netherlands. It only gets better as you move to...

        Panels on cars isn't as poor as you make it out to be. Lightyear One is designed around this and anticipates 20,000 km of free range a year in the Netherlands. It only gets better as you move to sunnier areas of the globe.

        30 miles a day doesn't sound like a lot, but the average American drives about 30 miles a day. Cutting the energy needs of this in half at 15 miles a day, or all together with higher options, is a big step.

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          ThiccPad
          Link Parent
          Solar panel is cool but not 149000 euro cool

          Solar panel is cool but not 149000 euro cool

          7 votes
          1. Autoxidation
            Link Parent
            Agreed, the price is outrageous. I imagine that tech will be more widely available and priced far lower in the next 5-10 years.

            Agreed, the price is outrageous. I imagine that tech will be more widely available and priced far lower in the next 5-10 years.

            4 votes
        2. [2]
          Octofox
          Link Parent
          Most people probably park undercover though. Likely only useful for people out on farms. It makes more sense to just put the solar panels on your roof where they see sun almost all day.

          Most people probably park undercover though. Likely only useful for people out on farms. It makes more sense to just put the solar panels on your roof where they see sun almost all day.

          3 votes
          1. Neuroflux
            Link Parent
            I live in a very sunny, hot part of California and residential streets are lined with large trucks parked outside with no cover. Most of them too big to fit in a garage.

            I live in a very sunny, hot part of California and residential streets are lined with large trucks parked outside with no cover. Most of them too big to fit in a garage.

            3 votes
        3. dredmorbius
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          30 miles a day twice what Musk is claiming (15 mi), and even that is probably optimistic. (Though, noted, Musk has frequently proved me wrong.) The problems with panels permanently affixed to a...

          30 miles a day twice what Musk is claiming (15 mi), and even that is probably optimistic.

          (Though, noted, Musk has frequently proved me wrong.)

          The problems with panels permanently affixed to a vehicle's exterior, is that they're subject to all kinds of wear and damage, they don't generate electricity when shaded, and shapes and angles of automobiles are not ideal for solar PV generation. If a 5-10 km range is going to spell the difference between life or death, then maybe this is worthwhile. But again, almost any alternative mechanism (a tow, a generator, a long extension cord, a dispatchable external battery pack, a set of deployable, non-permanently-mounted, solar panels) is going to be superior.

          Note that "fold-out solar wings" would be one of those additional (and far more sensible) options. Oddly enough, Musk's other hobby, space flight, has proved extremely effective in packing large panel deployments in to very small size- and mass- packages, with reliable deployment systems. Though what's tractable for a one-time deployment in space may not fare so well on planetary surfaces with wind, dust, rain, and other factors -- those mechansism are pretty fragile. Though they can be made more robust, at a cost in mass and stowed size.

          It's simple physics: 1 kW/m^2 at best, as a starting point, of incident solar energy, further reduced through numerous technical and logistical limitations. If you're lucky you end up with 5-10% of that (0.1kW/m^2), and quite possibly only 1%. At extraordinary cost. At (roughly) 6m x 2m, if you covered the entire exterior surface of the Cybertruck with PV, you'd be starting with 18kW of incident solar energy, converted at ~10-20% efficiency, for 1.8 - 3.6 kW. If the battery pack is 500 kWh, then you'd get, again, at best, 1.3 - 3.6 miles per hour of charge, and maybe 4-8 good charging hours per day. (Musk's 15 miles/day seems to match this roughly, within a factor or so of 2.)

          1 vote
  3. patience_limited
    Link
    As much as the marketing may be targeted to the apocalyptic mindset, there really are "form follows function" reasons for the Cybertruck design, right down to the "bulletproof" windows. See the...

    As much as the marketing may be targeted to the apocalyptic mindset, there really are "form follows function" reasons for the Cybertruck design, right down to the "bulletproof" windows.

    See the Motortrend article for discussion of the choice of stainless steel body panels and folded panel construction.

    As seen with the prior stainless steel bodied DeLorean, the type of stainless steel alloy used is less ductile and harder to stamp in aerodynamic curvatures than standard car body panel materials. [That's partly why it doesn't hold a sledgehammer dent.]

    It's easier to manufacture in straight-lined prisms than curved volumes, so the end product is going to look like it's made from a minimum number of wireframe polygons... And that's also how the aesthetics of early CAD-inspired cars and science fiction movie CGI object vehicles came about in the first place.

    As to reinforced glass windows, if you've ever been stuck behind a poorly covered dump truck at U.S. highway speeds, you'll understand the desire for something bulletproof. Particularly after you've finished arguing with your insurance company about windshield replacement from a stone chip that cracked across before it could be repaired.

    4 votes
  4. skybrian
    Link
    The aesthetics are pretty shocking but I'm wondering what happens after we get used to it? If it sells and there aren't quality problems, this is probably going to end up pretty iconic. And maybe...

    The aesthetics are pretty shocking but I'm wondering what happens after we get used to it? If it sells and there aren't quality problems, this is probably going to end up pretty iconic. And maybe dated? Like, if you want to make a movie about the 2020's make sure there are some of these in your street scene.