Like with SpaceX’s Starship, Tesla Cybertruck will be made from steel. The company has patented ultra-hard cold-worked steel alloy for the production of its electric pickup truck.
Tesla Cybertruck will be made from a stainless steel alloy, the same material that will be used for the exterior shell of the SpaceX Starship rocket. This means that its exterior shell will be really resistant to damage and corrosion, and will not require paint.
“It is, it is literally bulletproof to a nine-millimeter handgun. That's how strong the skin is—it's ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless steel alloy that we've developed. We’re going to be using the same alloy in the Starship rocket, and in the Cybertruck,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the pickup’s unveiling in 2019.
However, for the production of Cybertruck, Tesla will use a special steel alloy. On February 23, 2023, the “Ultra-hard cold-worked steel alloy” patent was published, which reveals more information about it. The patent describes a steel alloy with improved hardness and corrosion resistance for high-performance applications.
Tesla explained that there are many “stainless” steels that resist corrosion including a family of commercially produced “3xx” series stainless steel alloys. The most common of these alloys are 301, 304/304L, and 316/316L, and are commonly produced in a variety of product forms. There are also other stainless steel products that are differentiated based upon their microstructure and method of strength: Austenitic (3xx series), Martensitic (4xx series), Ferritic, Duplex, and precipitation hardenable (PH).
Martensitic steels typically require controlled heat treatments and hardening cycles to increase hardness. However, such additional treatments increase the cost of the alloy, require expensive equipment, and may cause warpage of the target product depending upon product form. In addition, corrosion resistant martensitic steels typically contain a relatively large amount of expensive cobalt for corrosion resistance, which increases the cost of using martensitic alloys.
Tesla describes several compositions of steel alloy and different methods of processing it to achieve the desired result. Meanwhile, it is clearly indicated that the exterior part of the car body can be produced from such an alloy, which does not require any additional treatment to protect against corrosion.
“Embodiments relate to ‘cold-worked’ (e.g., cold-rolled) steel alloys with improved strength, hardness and corrosion resistance useful for creating products, such as exterior vehicle body components. Such cold-worked steel alloys may allow the exterior facing vehicle body components to be resistant to denting, scratching, and pitting while avoiding the need for a corrosion protective agent (e.g., paint) over the exterior vehicle body components. Cold working (e.g., cold-rolling) strengthens the disclosed steel alloy in part due to strain-induced martensitic phase transformation of the austenitic matrix, which imparts improved hardness and strength for scratch and dent resistance. Advantageously, the phase transformation of the disclosed steel alloy was found to have increased hardness and strength while maintaining corrosion resistance.”
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.