Tesla Cybertruck: Elon Musk reveals potential for stunning color changes

The Tesla Cybertruck's steel exterior could play host to a dazzling array of new color choices.

Which color will look best on the Tesla Cybertruck? While the all-electric pickup truck looks set to arrive in late 2021 with a striking stainless steel exterior, fans are already discussing how to treat the material to produce a number of new color options.

Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO that unveiled the angular vehicle in November 2019, confirmed on his Twitter page Sunday that fans will be able to treat the cold-rolled 30X stainless steel body of the Cybertruck with heat to create a number of cool effects. The truck stands out for the use of these materials, as Musk claimed after the unveiling that it makes stamping impossible. It seems that what Tesla loses in its ability to shape the exterior, fans gain in the potential for customization.

It's the latest in a series of unveilings about the Cybertruck, which is increasingly standing out as possibly Tesla's most unique vehicle. The truck starts at $39,900, and forms part of a three-vehicle plan to move the company away from niche premium vehicles to a mass market. While this plan started with the conventional-looking Model 3 sedan in July 2017 and continued with the Model Y compact SUV in March 2020, the Cybertruck looks almost nothing like any pickup truck on the road today.

The steel exterior can change during the heat-treating process. At around 200 degrees Celsius (nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit), the metal would take on a straw-like color. At 282 degrees (540 degrees Fahrenheit) it becomes a shade of purple. By 310 degrees (590 degrees Fahrenheit) it takes on a striking blue color.

When asked which shade he preferred, Musk suggested he would choose "blue steel" – likely a reference to 2001 comedy Zoolander, where Ben Stiller's male model character is known for his legendary "blue steel" pose.

Elon Musk's declaration.

Elon Musk/Twitter

Musk also drew attention to a potential new form of customization. A video shared by a Twitter user called "ajtourville" shows 304L steel undergoing a laser engraving process. Laser engraving is used in a variety of applications, and Apple even offers an engraving service for its gadgets.

But the use of 304L steel specifically is still up in the air. Last week, Musk confirmed that the Tesla Cybertruck's steel alloy may change during the course of its development, as Musk's other firm SpaceX experiments with new steel forming methods with its upcoming Starship rocket. The CEO claimed on his Twitter page that "traditional names like 304L will become more of an approximation."

It's not the first time Musk has shed some light on the potential for color changes. In April 2020, Musk wrote on his Twitter page that "you will be able to wrap it [the Tesla Cybertruck] in any color or pattern." One of the first to unveil plans for Cybertruck wraps was DBrand, better known for its smartphone wraps, which offers Cybertruck customization in the regon of $4,000 for a complete set.

Last week, Tesla announced that the Cybertruck will be built in a new planned factory in Austin, Texas.

The Inverse analysis – The Cybertruck's unique exterior could place customization options further in the hands of consumers, instead of depending on company color options as with previous vehicles. That has its downsides, as it would mean missing out on paints like the ones planned for Giga Berlin, but it also gives consumers choices from imaginative third parties.

It's a more hands-on approach, but with a vehicle that also packs an air compressor and high ground clearance, this is clearly a truck aimed at a more hands-on consumer in the first place.

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