"I'm blown away that they would be struggling so much with the basics."

Back to Basics

Tesla engineers may have their work cut out for them.

A leaked internal report examined by Wired reveals that an "alpha" version of the endlessly delayed Cybertruck was plagued with glaring yet basic flaws, including botched braking, handling, and body-sealing — perhaps shedding some light on why it's yet to hit the market years since its initial announcement and well after it was supposed to be available for customers who preordered it.

"My first reaction is I am astounded," a veteran automotive engineer told Wired, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"These are classic mechanical automotive engineering challenges that you have in pretty much any vehicle," he added. "I'm blown away that they would be struggling so much with the basics."

The engineer stressed that the setbacks, given Tesla's vast resources, are definitely recoverable. It is, after all, an "alpha" version. But either way, the findings don't quite paint a picture that inspires much confidence — especially combined with the automaker's persisting self-driving woes.

Leak Sauce

The flaws were described in an internal document called a dynamics, noise, vibration, and harshness report (NVH) from January 2022, as part of a large batch of files leaked to the German newspaper Handelsblatt last month.

In short, the NVH report pits the real word performance results of the Cybertruck against performance projections from computer-aid design simulations (CAD), and it found significant discrepancies.

A lot of the issues seem to stem from the Cybertruck's polarizing design, which is all jagged angles and rectangular faces — an unorthodox shape, it turns out, that isn't easy to seal.

Tesla engineers noted that "there are a number of areas that we do not have a clear path to sealing," with the Cybertruck design leaking in not only the elements, but noise. Probably not what you'd want out of a vehicle that CEO Elon Musk has claimed could double as a boat.

Chop Shop

Unsurprisingly, this absolute brick of a vehicle's handling wasn't any better. Engineers complained of "mid-speed abruptness and chop," shaking in the Cybertruck's body, and jerkiness at low speed turns.

But braking somehow fared even more abysmally. According to the report, the "alpha" Cybertruck's yet-to-be-finalized brake pedal resulted in too much travel and "inconsistent stop." Turning while braking also proved uneasy.

"The brake performance seems serious," Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin and a 40 year industry veteran, told Wired. "I'm surprised they're not further forward."

Perhaps the nail in the coffin, though, is what's called the torsional stiffness of the alpha model. The term describes how well a car's body can resist twisting, and you need to get it just right for a car to maneuver easily and intuitively.

"What's surprising about that is it's really hard to fix. It's fundamental," Palmer explained."It's a biggie, too, because fixing it adds weight and compromises the design of the vehicle."

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