Tesla has said that the Cybertruck's production ramp-up would take some time. Like any of its new vehicle launches, the automaker will likely find processes that can be improved upon, costs that can be cut, and components that don't wear in the real world as they did in testing.
As it turns out, that's exactly the case with the 2024 Tesla Cybertruck's aero wheel covers. Some early adopters have found that the covers are eating away at the sidewall of their tires. As a result, Tesla has reportedly stopped including the aero covers with new Cybertruck deliveries, possibly until they are redesigned. Let's dig into the problem with the help of a video by T Sportline.
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The Cybertruck wheel covers are problematic.
The wheel covers dig into the tires, causing wear. Tesla will no longer equip Cybertruck with these wheel covers until the issue is resolved.
The factory tires on the Cybertruck are pretty unique. In fact, they're made by Goodyear specifically for the Cybertruck, complete with custom sidewalls. That's not to say you can't get a similar size replacement for them, but the fancy designs on the sidewall of the factory tires are unique to Tesla.
That being said, the design in the sidewall is meant to match up to the Cybertruck's aero covers. These hard plastic covers function similarly to the ones found on the Model 3; they are removable and meant to improve range. However, they extend past the actual wheel itself and mesh into the design of the aero cover.
The entire cover isn't hard plastic, however. Tesla anticipated that the cover could make contact with the tire itself, so it made the ends of the covers a softer, flexible rubber compound so that they wouldn't dig into the sidewall. The covers are also spaced out from the edge of the tire several millimeters so they don't actually make contact with the wheel under normal driving circumstances... or so Tesla thought.
As it turns out, a heavy vehicle will deform the bottom of the tire outward at the contact patch where the tire meets the ground. That's completely normal. In fact, it's been this way pretty much since the first tubeless radial tires were commercialized by Michelin in the 1940s. But that deformation causes the aero cover's rubber to make contact with the sidewall of the tire.
So with each rotation of the sidewall, the rubber caps of the aero cover rub the sidewall and remove a small portion of the rubber. You can see how this can become a problem after a decent amount of miles. It could also be the reason that we saw one of these aero covers fly off of a Cybertruck in September.
It's clear that Tesla is looking to fix the issue. With the covers no longer being available until at least March, something is in the works. And it's not like Tesla hasn't explored alternative aero cover designs in the past; its current ones just look less like something you'd pick up off the shelf at AutoZone—hopefully, for the sake of new owners, it will remain that way if the covers are desdesigned as expected.
While this is definitely an issue of premature wear, I can't help but wonder which will come first, replacing the tire due to sidewall wear, or replacing the tires due to a 6,800 pound, 845-horsepower EV chewing through tread?