Tesla Cybertruck

Innovation

Tesla Cybertruck: Elon Musk reveals owners can remove a key safety feature

Is that a good idea?

Tesla

The Tesla Cybertruck will let buyers take matters into their own hands.

Last week, CEO Elon Musk claimed on Twitter that the upcoming all-electric pickup truck, first unveiled in November 2019, will allow owners to remove the side mirrors. Musk explained that, while “required by law,” the mirrors are “designed to be easy to remove by owners.”

It’s the latest revelation about the highly-anticipated truck, which sparked headlines when its angular design first debuted at the company’s design studio. Initially set for a release in late 2021, the car is now expected to enter widespread, high-volume production in 2023.

While removable mirrors may seem like a surprise, Tesla’s marketing literature also notable omitted side mirrors. The official renders showed a car with a straightforward, clean design on either side.

Tesla Cybertruck in the shadows.Tesla

Vincent Yu, founder of website Tesmanian, suggested on Twitter in December 2019 that the truck would use cameras located above the wheel instead of side mirrors:

Tesla Cybertruck's side view cameras.Twitter

That seemed set to change last week, when Tesla fan Jesse Sandoval shared footage of a prototype model. The car was spotted at the Transportation Research Center in Atwater, California, which bills itself as “the largest independent vehicle test facility and proving grounds in the U.S.”

The video elicited disappointment from some fans. YouTube user Frank E wrote: “Mirrors, sigh?... I was hoping the cameras and monitors would be approved by now, to replace side view mirrors.”

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Tesla Cybertruck side mirrors: What the law says

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration lays out specific rules about how a car should provide rear visibility. In Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 111, it explains:

Each passenger car shall have an outside mirror of unit magnification. The mirror shall provide the driver a view of a level road surface extending to the horizon from a line, perpendicular to a longitudinal plane tangent to the driver's side of the vehicle at the widest point, extending 2.4 m out from the tangent plane 10.7 m behind the driver's eyes, with the seat in the rearmost position.

In a 2018 interview with YouTuber MKBHD, Musk suggested that this rule is for manufacturers rather than car owners:

“A manufacturer is required to have side view mirrors, but I believe that the owner is not,” he said.

Tesla Cybertruck side mirrors: Why you might want to remove them

Beyond looking cool, Musk said in his 2018 interview that removing the mirrors could help the car run better.

“Mirrors, particularly at high speeds, can have a big effect on the drag of a car,” Musk said. He claimed that typical side mirrors can reduce the range of an electric car driving down the highway by a staggering five percent.

Tesla has not released the final battery range specifications for the Cybertruck, but it previously estimated the high-end model would run for over 500 miles on a single charge.

For performance-conscious buyers, it could add a little extra to their new truck’s range — but how many drivers will part with the traditional safety feature remains to be seen.

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