Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk has revealed more details on how his ground-breaking Cybertruck will make both towing and carrying significant payloads a breeze.
The race is on for car makers to bring electric utility trucks (known as pickups in the US, or utes in Australia) to market, and Musk’s “pet project” – as he has referred to it – has all the signs of being a potential market leader.
US auto giant Ford is working on an electric F-150, fellow auto mainstay GM has promised multiple electric utes and Michigan-based startup Rivian making plans to release its own groundbreaking R1T electric pickup alongside an electric SUV in 2021.
Musk, however, is seeking to trump them all through the innovative Cybertruck with its (polarising) hard steel exoskeleton that he unveiled in November with a promise that it will “even better than people realise“.
To address the skepticism about the ability of electric vehicles to perform the hard task of pulling and carrying heavy objects, Musk on Saturday Tweeted that the Cybertruck will capitalise on the instantaneous reactive and feedback abilities of its electric drivetrain.
(To understand why electric utes will be better at it than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles you can read this article by University of Queensland’s Jake Whitehead).
Musk said the Cybertruck will be able to pull 7,500 lbs (3.4 metric tonnes) of payload (and that’s just for the base single motor model), and it will also come with its own real-time towing and payload calculator.
According to Musk, this will allow the driver to monitor “changes to max acceleration, braking, cornering, speed on gradient & range, latter factoring in route elevation changes & cargo or tow mass & drag impact.”
Being fed real-time data about these factors will allow drivers in planning manoeuvres such as tight turns, overtaking and handling steep inclines.
Yes, will also show real-time changes to max acceleration, braking, cornering, speed on gradient & range, latter factoring in route elevation changes & cargo or tow mass & drag impact
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2020
In addition to the payload and towing calculator, Musk has added that the Cybertruck’s active ride height and the active damping of its suspension will be game changing particularly because the Cybertruck has such a high minimum to maximum weight ratio.
The active ride height, which dynamically adjusts to compensate for differences in forward and rear loads, is complimented by the Cybertruck’s 16″ clearance, 35 degree approach angle and 28 degree departure angle and ensures optimum performance no matter what demanding task it is being put through.
Additionally, the adaptive air suspension that comes standard with all three single, dual and tri-motor variants of the Cybertruck is intended to improve energy efficiency – as well as ensure a smooth ride – in cases where a load’s weight ratio is not balanced.
Active ride height & active damping are game-changing for a truck or any car with a high max/min weight ratio
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 21, 2020
We can expect to see other car makers introduce similar functionality into various electric utility truck models, and all will have a superior ability to deal with the demanding needs of towing heavy loads.
Rivian for example, has also shared its plan to adjust torque, roll and suspension damping according to minute changes in sensors on off-road environments.
With models like these only a year or two away, with Australian availability to follow, it is surely only a matter of time before electric utes give ICE utes more than a run for their money.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.