Tesla Cybertruck electric pickup surprises in aerodynamic performance simulation

The Tesla Cybertruck with its interesting design offered a surprise in the first independent aerodynamic performance simulation test. It comes in at an unofficial 0.39 drag coefficient.

When Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck, the design was polarizing, to say the least. Some were totally in love with the design, while others hated it with a passion. One thing that both sides can agree on is that it is quite a novel design – it is so unusual that real images of the electric pickup truck almost look like they are CGI.

There are many reasons behind the novel design – the biggest one is likely the fact that Tesla wants to build the truck with a stainless steel exoskeleton, which creates some limitations in terms of design. Tesla was also inspired by cyberpunk science fiction like Blade Runner for the design of the pickup.

But Tesla also thought that it could make a pickup truck that is more aerodynamic with this novel design. Pickup truck designs are, for the most part, extremely similar and generally have a bad drag coefficient between 0.55 and 0.65 Cd.

Now a new study of the Tesla Cybertruck’s aerodynamic performance shows that the electric pickup truck has a drag coefficient of about 0.39 Cd.

Aleix Lázaro Prat, a CFD Engineer for Numeric Systems, used the company’s aerodynamic simulation technology to produce the study that they released on LinkedIn.

The engineer shared the positive aspects of the design from his study:

Contrary to what many people would think, the sharp edge of the roof does not produce a big detachment! It is true that the flow it is not attached, but in fact the air follows down the slope quite seamlessly. The boundary layer does not substantially grow. This is quite remarkable and a big aerodynamic advantage compared to other pick-up trucks. Moreover, the diffuser makes a substantial effect in the center of the vehicle’s rear-end! It creates suction and reduces the wake.

However, he also saw plenty of room for improvement:

On the other side, our results show clear turbulent structures created by the front edge which connects the bumper and the bonnet, the vertical edge right behind the front lights, the wheel arches’ “protectors”/surrounding edgy geometry, the rim styling and the geometry of the a-pillar and c-pillar. The generation of the turbulent structures is caused by the sharpness of these edges. These geometrical features increase the drag of the vehicle, which ultimately reduce the range the CYBERTRUCK. Furthermore, due to the sharp rear end, the flow instantly detaches and creates a considerably big low energy area (wake), mostly noticeable behind the top and side rear-end edges.

It’s important to note that Numeric Systems don’t have the final geometry of the Cybertruck, and therefore, it shouldn’t be completely representative of the final product.

There are factors like the lack of side mirrors that we don’t know if or how will be implemented in the production version of the truck next year.

CEO Elon Musk has previously hinted that Tesla might deliver the truck with removable side mirrors.

Musk has also said that he believes that Tesla could manage to bring the Cybertruck’s Cd down to 0.30 with some improvements, which would be amazing for a pickup truck of this size.

Tesla is expected to soon unveil the production version of the Cybertruck, which is now finally set to go into production in mid-2023 after many delays.

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