Hundreds of thousands of customers have already placed a deposit on the Tesla Cybertruck in the United States and other international markets (including Australia), but it looks like the electric utility vehicle won’t be approved for sale in Europe unless serious changes are made.
The head-turning aesthetics that thrust the Tesla Cybertruck into the spotlight when it was unveiled last month may be the very thing that keep it off the streets of Europe and Australia.
Like Australia, the European Commission have strict automotive safety protocols that must be adhered to before a vehicle is approved for local sale. As it stands, the Tesla Cybertruck would fail a number of key safety protocols.
According to Stefan Teller, a TUV (roadworthy test) expert in Germany, the Cybertruck would need “strong modifications to the basic structure” before it could be approved for use in the European Union. Teller believes that while occupants may feel safe in the high-riding utility, the rigid structure of the Cybertruck poses a serious threat to passengers and pedestrians.
“Nothing is deformed in the event of an impact. Instead, enormous forces act on the occupants. Airbags no longer help”, said Teller.
In its current configuration, the rigid sheet metal used in the construction of the Cybertruck would almost certainly fail the EU’s increasingly stringent pedestrian and cyclist protection standards.
"The front of the vehicle must not be stiff," said Teller. "The bumper and bonnet must be able to absorb energy to protect the pedestrians."
In order for the Cybertruck to be approved for use in Europe — and likely Australia, it would need to be redesigned using different materials (and design cues) that are more sympathetic to impact for pedestrians and the vehicles occupants.
Passive protection which is tested by Euro NCAP and ANCAP is an important qualifying safety test for the European and Australian markets. However, because the Cybertruck qualifies as a light-duty truck in the United States, it is not subject to the same level of safety scrutiny as regular passenger vehicles.
It’s unclear whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk has plans to make the radical changes necessary for the Cybertruck to be sold in the European Union. On December 4, Musk proudly tweeted that the: “Model X Just earner 5 stars from EURO NCAP in safety testing”, so it is unlikely he is ignorant to the challenges that lay ahead for the Cybertruck in the EU.
Perhaps Musk is banking on success of the Cybertruck in the US market. Despite pre-orders remaining open, the Cybertruck is not expected to be available for sale in the European Union and Australian until late 2021 at the earliest.