CyberSemi - Maybe save a hundred million in tooling.

CyberSemi - Maybe save a hundred million in tooling.

Given the fresh thinking in the CyberTruck, and all the advantages of prismatic, non-die-stamped, welded stainless planar panels, I’m thinking it might be worth looking at giving the Semi the Cyber-treatment.

That market segment too, can benefit from the stainless steel skin durability.

With enough tweaks, they can get a pretty good CD too.

For any utility vehicle, this new design / build motif makes terrific sense.

I think it would look kick-ass too.

Xerogas | 01. desember 2019

@Mark K: oh man, I love where you’re going with this.

hcwhy | 01. desember 2019

I think the look would be awesome for a sports car or sports sedan.......heck....why not a whole line of cyber vehicles?

Tesla-David | 01. desember 2019

Great post and ideas +100

andy.connor.e | 01. desember 2019

Every vehicle would benefit from the stainless steel exterior. You're essentially making the vehicle rust proof, and extremely dent resistant. This kind of structure is theoretically tripling an average vehicle life span. Regions with snow and salt would love this, i'd love to see this get implemented on more than just the truck. But i think how well the truck will sell will determine if they expand the "Cyber Lineup".

RedShift | 01. desember 2019

While I like this whole concept, weight is a major concern. I haven’t seen the curb weight projections from Tesla.

Mark K | 01. desember 2019

Redshift - I think this is even easier for the Semi.

As a percentage of total mass, the cab skin is quite small. Less than CyberTruck, since the Semi cab isn’t as big as the whole CT.

The Semi also has a huge battery mass (~300+ kWh) and requires a frame below to anchor the trailer hitch, since the payload is so huge. The stainless skin won’t change that, so it needn’t disturb their fundamental design and engineering already in progress.

Hence, you’re really only looking at the cab shell, and there, it might actually reduce time and cost to tool the shell.

And I think the target audience of freight haulers would actually love the look in their application.

Who knows, it might actually save Tesla some cycles on tooling debug.

And it would definitely reinforce the iconic brand perception that Tesla is reinventing transportation in all segments.

Mark K | 01. desember 2019

Further, if you look at unit volume for the Semi at $180K vs. say the Model 3, Semi will be made in much smaller volume during its ramp-up period.

So the faster, less costly tooling cycle, with laser-cut, scored and folded stainless is a really good fit to facilitate launch.

And on the buyer psychology side -

Once you’ve seen future-truck, old-trucks don’t look so good.

Even the current graceful lines of the Semi prototypes will appear dated sooner with the advent of CT.

CyberTruck looks tougher than any truck. The Semi shouldn’t look any less tough than this new normal in 2021.

RedShift | 01. desember 2019


Though the CT looks are yet to grow in me, I completely understood the rationale after reading the MT article on the engineering choices Tesla made.

I also appreciate the steel cojones Elon has to pull something like this off. My respect for him has only grown.

However, an EV is already fighting the curb weight battle the moment the battery pack is bolted on. Having a skin as thick as a skillet is very good for durability and utility, it from weight perspective I am not sure how they are going to control that. Body on frame trucks which compete with the CT start at around 4800 lbs for the base model. Model S with aluminum skin and sub frame parts weighs in at 4900 lbs. CT will be what, 5500 lbs minimum? Going to 6200 or so for the top model then?

If that might be the expected curb weight, I guess it’s alright..after all this is not a sports car.

RedShift | 01. desember 2019

Grow ON me

Mark K | 01. desember 2019

Redshift - the steel mass calculus I think parallels what happened with StarShip.

At first, they used carbon fiber composites and light alloys. But when they finished accounting for the additive heat shield layers, they found the total package weighed even more than if they used thermally durable stainless steel.

It’s counter-intuitive that steel would end up lighter overall, but it did. And that changed their whole design philosophy for StarShip.

The analog to StarShip aggregate mass, is the aggregate mass of the body + underbody frame for CyberTruck.

By making the body out of 3mm stainless steel, they got rid of the frame. The larger exoskeleton spaceframe delivers more torsional and beam flexion rigidity, shockingly, at less weight than the body-on-frame legacy methods.

Setting aside mass for a battery vs ice engine, the structure itself should weigh less than its legacy counterpart.

That’s why it’s such a conceptual breakthrough. It’s a direct result of the counter intuitive conclusions found with StarShip development.

If the newer battery has improved gravimetric energy density, I’m hoping to see CyberTruck weigh about the same as F150. If so, that’s a lot more truck function for the same money and mass.

That’s the opportunity, and I think they are equal to it.

RedShift | 02. desember 2019


I missed that the CT was unibody, my bad. That changes my perception of the problem.

The gravimetric energy density is one area where Tesla probably has about a decade of lead over anyone else. Let us see. On another note, I am on the fence about whether I’ll ever buy the Roadster 2, worried that it’s curb weight will be north of 4500 lbs, making it more of a GT. Maybe the new battery will help with that.

RedShift | 02. desember 2019

Also, to follow up - here is one SA article I find objective and worthy of reading, about the CT.

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

Redshift - roadster and Semi use a lot more battery cells per vehicle, so their release will track the shift in battery tech.

Better density, lower cost, and million mile life are the key milestones. Then we’ll see volume of the roadster and semi.

Model Y will perform great with the current battery tech, so it will beat any competition, starting in first half of 2020.

CyberTuck will ship after the battery advances are already shipping for roadster and semi, so that’s a shoe-in on the CT.

Base on this, I expect it’ll beat the gas F150 in weight, and performance, and trounce the first F150EV until Ford can muster battery tech to catch up.

Catching up may prove illusive. With Mach E, Ford couldn’t match Tesla batteries from years ago. Catching a moving target means ford will have to work faster than Tesla, which is culturally unlikely.

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

SA article author is not tuned into the reduced tooling complexity laser cut planar panels. He’s talking about it being more costly to prepare, where technologically it should be less - lower cost per truck, and lower cost and time to tool.

RedShift | 02. desember 2019

I got that, I was interested in how the chassis reuse happens with conventional truck models and the spun off vehicles.

TabascoGuy | 02. desember 2019

Mark - From what I've seen, the part per minute production of laser cut panels is significantly lower than stamped parts. Laser cut parts would also have to have a number of operations after folding to add attachment points or structural components.

This is important because Tesla will need to be able to make the CT components at the same rate as conventional tooling in order to hit high vehicle production numbers.

My concern is that CT probably wasn't intended to be a 300k per year vehicle yet the number of reservations may require higher production volumes. Either that or we have to wait in line longer.

Tesla-David | 02. desember 2019

I found the Cyber Truck review by Jack Rickard to be very informative. He absolutely loves the design and says it will be much cheaper to build.

"Tesla hit all the key points of what and why men in the U.S. buy and drive pickup trucks and combine it with a manufacturing revolution that promises to change the auto world forever."

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

Tesla-David - Yeah, Jack is a crusty old coot, who just happens to understand this subject better than almost any writer.

TobascoGuy - yes, cnc laser cutting takes longer than a blanking die press strike, buy its very easy to manage.

Laser cutters cost less than 0.1% that of those huge blanking presses, so in practice you just parallel many of them to get any throughout desired.

This is very commonly done for super high volume production.

For example, Apple makes millions of MacBook Pro unibody housings by cnc machining from aluminum billet stock.

3D Milling is far slower than laser cutting sheet stock profiles, so what Apple did was buy a sh*tload of low cost mills, and massively parallel-process the fab.

Apple in fact uses cnc milling to fab 200,000,000 million iPhones per year. That’s volume.

iPhone 10 and 11 are all milled from stainless steel, with armies of cnc robot mills.

Think how high quality that steel phone casing feels in hand compared to all the injection molded plastic competition.

Now think how great your stainless-steel CyberTruck will feel compared to painted F150’s.

That’s why Jack Ricard is so blown away.

No one comes close to Tesla’s innovation and drive.

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

200 million

TabascoGuy | 02. desember 2019

Mark - thanks for the update. I didn't think that an 'army' of laser machines would be cost effective but compared to a new press line, that makes sense. That's certainly how it's done in China, just throw 500, 1000, or, more new machines at the bottleneck.

Also, I'm planning on wrapping mine. The stainless steel look is too "something is missing but I can't put my finger on it yet" for me.

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

TG - See it in person, then decide on the wrap.

Stainless can be brushed, bead-blasted, or polished. The variety of finishes can be quite beautiful in their own right.

A coarser bushing at the right grain size is gorgeous, It gleams in a way that exudes strength.

You match the brushing angle to the thrust of the design. From front to back, paralleling the dominant sill line.

It’s far more beautiful person than pictures.

Mark K | 02. desember 2019

It’s far more beautiful in person than pictures.

jordanrichard | 02. desember 2019

Ahhhh but will that beautiful stainless steel be fingerprint resistant?

RedShift | 02. desember 2019

Man, all you guys are making me itch for a CT for myself. And I am not at all a truck guy. :-)

Mark K | 03. desember 2019

Same here. I’m into my second res, and I’ve never owned a truck before.

jordanrichard - like all stainless, you can wipe on a clear liquid agent that’s oleophobic and water droplet repellant.

We do that for the optoelectronics gear we make, and it’s very easy-care.

At 3mm thick, and hardened 30x, the stuff is pretty amazing. You even sand out a hard scratch, scotchbrite the brushing, and it’s perfect again.

That’s the beauty of a finish that is not merely a thin skin 0.015“ paint. This stuff is 0.125” solid steel all the way through.

Think of the difference between veneer and hardwood, but better.

The surface hardness is off-the-charts compared to any mild alloy, plastic, or the best urethane paint.

And because it’s brushed, it won’t throw a glare like clear coat finishes. While those can highlite even subtle water spots, the brushed steel won’t.

The specular reflection homogenizes incident light, and it just looks clean, strong, and valuable.

It’s the ultimate metallic finish ... because it’s real metal.

TabascoGuy | 03. desember 2019

Real Steel. Heavy Metal. Hmmmm.

I think I may just have a theme for my CT...

Mark K | 04. desember 2019

A little more on the science of surface finish -

For metal finishes, brushing is a kind of unique hybrid.

Polished metals are specular and even mirror-like if smooth, or diffuse if matte-etched (pitted).

But brushing is special - it creates many micro surfaces that are specular in long slender planes as varying angles. (The grain).

So it doesn’t throw mirror-like glare - and you don’t see coherent reflected images on it.

The fine grooves of the brushing vary with diverse plane angles that individually just ‘gleam’ brightly.

It’s a unique combination that’s quite beautiful.

It’s also very effective at hiding scratches in the direction of the grain.

For off-roading, that’s the same direction as branches brushing along the side of your truck.

No painted surface can possibly compare in hardness or durability of finish.

RedShift | 04. desember 2019

Rolls Royce car with paint with real diamonds in it:

I bet the people riding in the back seat drink pearls in vinegar cocktails too. | 04. desember 2019

@RedShift - I wonder if they will let me hit it with a sledgehammer like the Cybertruck demo :)

NKYTA | 04. desember 2019

Grey Poupon??

Mark K | 04. desember 2019

But of course.

Btw - those diamonds are rose-scented too.

bwong24 | 04. desember 2019

Hmm- Can they construct a semi with an exoskeleton - without a chassis?

Mark K | 04. desember 2019

Possible, but likely not preferable. 80,000 pound load does better with a frame.

Otherwise you’d need hella-thick skin.

Ross1 | 05. desember 2019

No. No reason to.
It is not about the body but the connection of the power source to the road. No body required. The body is a luxury.

El Mirio | 05. desember 2019

@RedShift during the event Elon said cybertruck has same weight and dimensions as an F150. So 4000 to 5700 lbs curb weight can be expected.

I think not having chassis like a regular truck might help offset weight quite a bit by using steel unibody design.

andy.connor.e | 05. desember 2019

Agree with people against exoskeleton for Semi. That kind of vehicle benefits from frame and having modularity.

RedShift | 05. desember 2019

@el mirio

Wow, did he? I must have gotten distracted by all the incredulous whining in my house upon the sight of the CT as we watched the reveal together.

My 10 year old son loves the truck though.

If the weight is kept under control, well, that is big! That might also hint at higher energy density in these new batteries, that Mark mentioned earlier.

Go Tesla.

El Mirio | 05. desember 2019

@RedShift Yep he did, right after the truck rolled up on stage he started describing weight and dimensions. I bet competition are more concerned about these type of spec and details then the actual design.

The functionality, specs and toughness of the truck made me appreciate the unconventional looks.

El Mirio | 05. desember 2019

If the young generation responds with enthusiasm for your products, you won the future.

Tesla is a masterful genius at this! Its a bit scary how relentlessly well they position themselves for success.

RedShift | 05. desember 2019

It shows a smart group of people led by a visionary. It’s a pretty lethal combination.