The Tesla Cybertruck will now offer a previously undisclosed quad-motor variant, rear steering, and a crabwalk function, CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter today. Not only that, the first Cybertrucks produced will be exclusively quad-motor models.
Up until now, the highest-performance Cybertruck was slated to have three motors, a configuration borrowed from the Tesla Model S Plaid. Musk gave no indication as to when this change was made, but we think it’s a response to the high praise Rivian’s quad-motor R1T EV pickup truck has received. Musk specifically called out “independent, ultra fast response torque control of each wheel” as a reason for going quad-motor, which we have specifically praised Rivian for.
We know this is at least a somewhat recent change in plan because we specifically asked about a quad-motor variant when Tesla invited us to a pair of exclusive previews of the Cybertruck in the months before its 2019 debut. At the time, Tesla told us four motors were unnecessary. The Plaid powertrain would make more than enough power and traction management would be handled by a virtual rear differential controlling the two rear motors and brake-based torque vectoring in front. This is the same solution found in the GMC Hummer EV pickup, which is also poised to beat the Cybertruck to market. Other than the Rivian angle, we can’t think of a reason for a late-stage engineering change on this scale.
Also borrowed from the Hummer EV pickup will be a previously spied rear steering system that Musk has now revealed will copy the Hummer’s “Crab Mode” as well. At low speeds, the Hummer turns the front and rear wheels in the same direction so the truck can drive forward and backward diagonally, which Musk says the Cybertruck will also do. We know from a spy video released earlier this year Tesla will primarily use the rear steering to tighten the truck’s turning radius in normal driving, just like the Hummer.
Though Musk didn’t confirm it, we wonder if these late add-ons may have contributed to the Cybertruck’s delay. Early this year, Musk said the first deliveries could take place by the end of this year “if we get lucky.” That isn’t going to happen, as in August the Cybertruck configurator was updated to inform customers production would begin sometime in 2022. We learned about the new rear steering feature in October and the quad-motor variant now in December, despite Musk telling reporters in January “we have finished all the Cybertruck engineering.” Musk revealed in October the company was still making changes to the truck’s “design,” which would also help explain the delay. Production has also been tied to the completion of the company’s new Texas Gigafactory, which isn’t quite finished yet.
Musk’s revelations today were in response to a fan account circulating a rumor the planned base, single-motor Cybertruck model has been cancelled. Musk did not address this rumor. Musk also did not address reservation holders asking if they’ll be able to convert their tri-motor reservations to the new quad-motor model, or what the quad-motor model would cost. Musk did promise a “product roadmap update on next earnings call.”
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