Is the Tesla Cybertruck aerodynamic?Tesla's revolutionary Cybertruck is the most eccentric vehicle of its kind.
We wanted to find out just how aerodynamic this unique design is.
This revolutionary electric vehicle boasts a payload capacity of up to 1,588kg (3,500 pounds). It can accelerate from 0-60mph (0-97km/h) in less than 2.9 seconds and has a range of 500 miles. With adaptive suspension and an indestructible ekoskeleton shell, the engineering behind the Cybertruck is extremely impressive. (Apart from the 'unbreakable' armor glass which shattered during the live unveiling.)
The exterior design is a complete departure from the usual streamlined styling of other Tesla models. Its simplistic, boxy appearance meant that it was not long before 3D models were available on the internet. Once the most representative model was found, we uploaded it and ran some initial simulations. We were excited to see what aerodynamic secrets our initial analysis would uncover.
The most interesting aspect of the Cybertruck's design is that it only features straight lines. The nose is vertical and there is a gentle incline from the bonnet up to the roof. The roofline then gently declines down towards the rear of the truck.
From the 2D section below, the flow separation at the front (highlighted in blue) is clear. This turbulent flow is then forced back onto the bonnet and windscreen. However, the most surprising feature of this analysis, is the sharp angle of the roof, which generates minimal separation. Although, the precise behaviour of the flow surrounding this area will be affected by the radius of this edge, which may be inaccurate in this model.
Overall, it appears that there is relatively good pressure recovery. Air is pushed away at the front which creates drag. However, this drag then decreases consistently towards the rear, pushing down on the rear window. This forces the car to move forward, similar to a wedge, which counteracts some of the force at the front.
However, 2D analysis does not reveal the whole story. To analyse the behaviour of the flow in more detail, streamlines can be used to illustrate how the air flows over a surface. The below images show a friction drag colour map on the surface of the Cybertruck, along with streamlines.
We can see that not all the air flows over the roof. In fact, some air is directed outboard around the front A-Pillar and then curves back inboard around the roofline at the rear. This air then joins the main flow over the roof. This results in vortices along the roofline, which creates aerodynamic drag.
Wheel arch design
Another way to visualise drag is to use 3D pressure clouds. These are areas with a pressure lower than the local surrounding air and highlight which features generate drag. From the images below, we can clearly see that the large open wheel arches are a major source of drag. Although, the design could be encouraging the air to jump across the rotating wheels, acting like air mixers.
The rear of the Tesla Cybertruck is another area of significant drag. However, this is unsurprising considering the sharp change in surface geometry of the trailing edge.
Our initial simulations calculated a drag coefficient of 0.48, which is more than double the drag of the Tesla Model 3 (Cd of 0.23). This is particularly impressive for an electric pickup truck. The results from our initial analysis highlight that the aerodynamic features of the Tesla Cybertruck are not only interesting, but impressive. We are looking forward to conducting some further analysis once we receive a more detailed model.