Tesla's 'apocalypse-proof' Cybertruck thwarted by sand, snow, and regulator recalls

  • Tesla's Cybertruck doesn't appear as "apocalypse-proof" as Elon Musk first suggested.

  • Since its November debut, the vehicles have gotten stuck in rough terrain and are facing recalls.

  • When the $60,000+ car was first revealed, its windows were smashed during a live demonstration.

Tesla's Cybertruck hasn't had quite the debut Elon Musk said it would.

Since its November launch, the $60,000+ vehicle has repeatedly made headlines for issues including displaying inexplicable "critical steering error" warning alerts, becoming stuck in rough terrain, and facing widespread recalls — a far cry from being the "apocalypse-proof" behemoth it was touted as.

"If you're ever in an argument with another car," Elon Musk pledged at the truck's launch event last year, "you will win."

He added: "The apocalypse could come along at any moment, and here at Tesla, we have the finest in apocalypse technology."

But on May 2, a tourist on Nantucket found their Cybertruck trapped in the sand, requiring a tow truck to free it. According to the tow operator, the driver made one crucial error: He forgot to let air out of the tires.

Normally, Cybertruck tires are inflated to around 50 psi. In the Cybertruck owner's manual, though, Tesla warns drivers to lower tire pressure before off-roading, to increase traction and decrease the risk of punctures. The tow operator said the safe spot for beach driving is between 18 and 22 psi.

"Unfortunately, they had neglected to do that or did not know to do that," the tow operator, who asked to remain anonymous because he runs his one-man towing operation informally, told Business Insider. "So that set them three steps back, right from the word go."

The operator said most tow jobs like these stem from inexperience, adding that he's often called in the summer months to help tourists who've misjudged how soft the sand is near the coastline or were completely unaware of how tire pressure impacts a vehicle's off-roading capabilities.

What happened with the Cybertruck, the operator said, could have happened to any other pickup driver. He noted, though, that the Cybertruck's extra weight — about 1,000 lbs heavier than comparable gas-powered pickups — didn't help.

"There's always been a question as to how electric vehicles with the excess weight will handle beach driving," he said. "They'll wear the same size tires as a regular F-150 or, you know, insert your standard pickup truck here, but they will have a higher weight."

The all-electric pickup was eventually freed — though not before it attracted a crowd of bemused onlookers from the small island community.

The tow operator said he "wasn't all that" surprised to get the phone call, given the buzz surrounding the arrival of the first Cybertruck on the island "earlier that day."

"He immediately gets off the boat and then parks in the heart of town on a crosswalk," he said. "It sort of made the internet rounds — and then, by 5 o'clock, it was stuck on the beach."

"We were joking [that] we sort of applaud his ability to really check off all of the things not to do on Nantucket in very quick succession," he added. "Really made the most out of the day."

The incident went viral on social media as only the latest blunder involving the Cybertruck.

Cybertruck's problems aren't all user error

As in the Nantucket incident, the 6,600+ lb. vehicles have also been seen stuck in the snow and struggling to climb steep hills. While the official causes of these incidents remain unconfirmed, the Cybertruck's problems can't all be chalked up to user error.

The cars, touted by Tesla as bulletproof, have also struggled with nagging quality issues. The stainless steel body is prone to complaints of rust spots and collecting handprints, and the massive vehicles have unsightly gaps in the door panels that YouTube tech influencer Marques Brownlee described as "worst I've ever seen in a production vehicle."

Another YouTuber reported their finger got caught in the car's frunk after its sensor failed to detect the obstruction, leaving a dent and small cut on the skin despite a recent software update intended to prevent such issues.

Firsthand accounts of the Cybertruck's accelerator pedal getting stuck at full throttle also attracted regulators' attention, with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting concerns that an "unapproved change" during the production process likely caused the problem, increasing the risk of collision. The NHTSA report prompted Tesla to recall about 3,878 of the vehicles in April voluntarily, which impacted virtually every Cybertruck that had been shipped to customers since the launch.

Business Insider previously reported that due to its size, speed, and autopilot features, Michael Brooks, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, called the Cybertruck a "guideless missile" and Myles Russell, a Canadian civil engineering technologist, called it a "death machine."

Problems with the tank-like car aren't limited to production models. When the prototype Cybertruck was first displayed in 2019, early demonstrations of its "shatterproof" glass were thwarted when the car's windows were easily smashed in a live test.

Musk warned investors last October during an earnings call that the car's unique design created massive problems with scaling production, saying: "We dug our own grave with the Cybertruck."

And with Tesla's stock down nearly 25% since the Cybertruck debuted last year — from $241.20 to $181.14 per share — it's possible he could be right.

Representatives for Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider