Tesla’s Cybertruck Breaks All the Design Rules

Jackson Wheeler
7 Min Read

Well, I suppose we’re going to have to discuss this.

It’s unavoidable because, as a design statement it’s the current elephant in the room, given that the recently released production version of the Tesla Cybertruck has drawn so much attention. The problem is, this is so much more than a simple question of liking the way it looks or not.

Stating the obvious, the Cybertruck is unlike any other truck—or any vehicle—in the market. Its appearance is very polarizing, with a straight-edge, flat-sided, geometric design aesthetic that presents a prominent middle finger to everything that has gone before it. Some will love it for this reason alone.

Along with the industrial look of the stainless-steel panels, perhaps the most prominent design feature is the pointed roof, formed by an extreme windshield angle as one segment of the triangulated upper with a closed rear bed forming another.

There are the seven-sided wheel covers that avoid being round that notch into the proprietary tires—no one has done this before on a production vehicle. It really does look like, in Elon’s words, a truck of the future.

But some may recognize a future they’ve seen before—a certain similarity to prop vehicles from numerous past sci-fi movies, where flat sides and hard edges were simply easier and cheaper to construct. Some have been so dismissive as to suggest this is what you get when you combine a child’s first attempt to draw a truck with a preliminary AI design program.

tesla cybertruck rims and tires front view

Tesla Cybertruck rims.


But look past the outward appearance and there’s a lot to find intriguing. This is one of the first vehicles to use steer-by wire, as well as incorporating a 48-volt electrical architecture, to name a few.

Those structural stainless-steel body panels are scratchproof, dentproof, and to a degree bulletproof. For those who are OCD about door dings, that’s reason enough to want one.

Four-wheel steering helps make the vehicle feel smaller than its large overall length would suggest. There’s a height-adjustable air suspension as well, and while not all of this is new, Tesla could have taken an easier, simpler route for their first truck, and that would have been enough for the fans.

Tesla has the credibility and attitude to attempt such an iconoclastic design.

The fact that they chose to pursue new and alternative technologies is what really makes the Cybertruck noteworthy.

And while it is undeniably dramatic, there are practical aspects of the design that come into question. That long, steep windshield may afford a good view of the road straight ahead, but the extreme forward location of the A-pillars will impede visibility, just as they do with vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and forthcoming VW ID. Buzz.

In addition, because of this configuration, the instrument panel (with Tesla, I use this term loosely given the one screen) is an aircraft carrier length away from the windshield touchdown, which may produce a feeling of driving from the back seat.

And while the retractable cargo cover for the bed is a nice feature and contributes to low aerodynamic drag, do we have to give up rear visibility as the price of this?

Yes, there’s an available rear view on that central screen, but this is a big vehicle—almost 224 inches long—and maneuvering it in a tight situation, like a parking structure, with compromised visibility will be challenging.

It was back in 2012 when Tesla introduced the Model S (yes, it’s over 10 years old). While it was universally praised at that time for the way it performed, it was somewhat mundane in its appearance.

tesla cybertruck interior at night

Tesla Cybertruck interior.


Not that it was ugly—far from it. It was, and continues to be, a handsome sedan. But it was so conventional, with nothing on the exterior save the painted “grille” suggesting the breakthrough technology within.

Believing it to be a lost design opportunity at the time, it’s proven to have been the right decision given the car’s acceptance and with it, the building of the foundation for Tesla’s success.

No one will accuse the Cybertruck of following the same path. While the Model X, 3, and Y that came after the Model S bear a family resemblance, the Cybertruck establishes its own visual direction owing nothing to its forbears.

This is a game changer, and not just for Tesla, which is probably the only American vehicle manufacturer with the credibility and attitude to attempt such an iconoclastic design. It will influence others.

So, give the Cybertruck credit—it may in some ways veer toward theatricality more than function. But this is the first Tesla that feels like they finally took off the design shackles and didn’t hold back.

Like it or not.

dave rand design consultant apr 2023

Tom Murphy

Dave Rand (pictured right) is the former executive director of Global Advanced Design for General Motors.

Headshot of Dave Rand

Dave started scribbling cars in his math books in elementary school and eventually parlayed his enthusiasm into a career in automotive design. He started at General Motors in 1978, working there for more than 32 years and eventually becoming the Executive Director of Global Design. He later worked as a consultant for both domestic and foreign companies. When he isn’t preoccupied with home renovations, Dave likes standing back and contemplating his award-winning 1966 Jaguar E-Type coupe.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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