Is the Tesla Cybertruck Bulletproof? Facts & FAQ
Say what you want about the Cybertruck’s peculiar appearance, but take one look at the construction, and it’s clear Tesla’s latest offering is no joke. If Tesla backs up its often erratic claims, its premier pickup will debut as the fastest, most powerful all-electric truck on the market. Adding to the intrigue is the stainless steel exterior. The futuristic features are getting plenty of attention for their dynamic aesthetics and bullet-stopping capabilities.
Is the Tesla Cybertruck Bulletproof?
The Cybertruck can withstand a 9 mm round fired at its metal paneling. The bulletproof shell and overall durability were critical promises Musk made about the Cybertruck when he introduced it in November 2019.
The most memorable part of the 2019 introduction was the demonstration of the
impact resistance. Shatter-proof glass (dubbed “transparent metal” at the demo) is an essential design feature of the new pickup. Tesla frames it as a solution to expensive window replacements.
Unfortunately, the display didn’t go according to plan. After beating the stainless-steel panel with a sledgehammer, Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen cracked the driver’s side and rear passenger window with a metal ball.
Musk played it off as a side effect of the sledgehammer affecting the glass, even though they never hit the rear door with the sledgehammer. In fairness, Musk proved the glass’s strength by dropping a metal ball directly onto a sheet from several feet before the failed effort on the Cybertruck. Musk also later released a video he took before the demo that showed off the glass’s true grit. In the video, von Holzhausen threw the same metal ball at the window and didn’t leave a mark.
Tesla patented Armor Glass debuted in May 2021. Though the company never stated the glass was bulletproof, it is far more impact-resistant than standard vehicle glass. The Armor Glass patent details the triple-layered approach that withstands impacts from pebbles, baseballs, tools, and other objects that would chip, crack, or shatter an ordinary windshield.
Making the glass bulletproof would likely be too expensive and impractical for a consumer vehicle. The Cybertruck’s exoskeleton is a different story. It features a 3-mm-thick metal shell capable of offering advanced protection. Its corrosion-resistant 30X stainless-steel panels can bear hammer blows, car keys, and knife attacks. As Musk showed in a slow-motion video, it can also withstand a 9 mm round shot from a distance of 10 meters.
“It’s an ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless-steel alloy,” Musk explained at the 2019 demo. “We’re going to be using the same alloy in the Starship rocket and in the Cybertruck.”
Cold-rolling is an extra processing step following the hot-rolling process used to make steel. It makes stainless steel harder, stronger, and able to deal with more abuse.
The Cybertruck’s thick, rigid panels are also one reason that it looks so strange. Standard car skins consist of weaker steel panels typically less than one-third the thickness of the Cybertruck’s stainless-steel panels. These thinner sheets can run through stamping machines to form unique, organic shapes. But according to Musk, the steel in the Cybertruck would likely break a similar press, so it has to be flat.
As von Holzhausen demonstrated with his trusty sledgehammer, those formable truck panels are no match for a heavy hit. Meanwhile, the Cybertruck is nearly indestructible. Apart from minor and often indiscernible cosmetic scratching, abrasive impacts from heavy and sharp objects leave almost no trace.
What Kind of Bullets Can the Cybertruck Stop?
It’s unlikely that the Cybertruck will undergo the rigid testing necessary to receive an armor class rating. The 9 mm bullet-stopping demos are more to illustrate the limits of the exoskeleton’s strength. It’s an affirmation that if it can hold up to a bullet, it can hold up to the odd rock thrown at it by a semi on the highway, a falling tool at the job site, or even worse, a door ding in a grocery store parking lot.
It’s still interesting to consider the bullet-stopping power of the Cybertruck, and it may be one of the most heavily tested aspects of the pickup once it finds its way to consumers. From a ballistic protection standpoint, stopping a 9 mm round puts it somewhere in the baseline B1-B2 rating by the European EN 1522 standard (EN 1063 is the standard for bulletproof glass).
Can a Cybertruck Stop a Rifle Round?
B1-B2 is rare for an armored vehicle. BR (ballistic resistance) ratings for armor resistance only to handguns go up to B4. At that level of protection, armor protects against a .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and a 12-gauge shotgun. The next step up, B5, includes materials that can stop many hunting and assault rifles like the AK-47. These materials need to be at least 7.5 mm thick, so we can be sure the Cybertruck doesn’t stand a chance against more powerful guns.
It’s challenging to infer the exact bullet-stopping power of the metal plating beyond a 9 mm FMJ. The “30X” designation leaves the precise 300-series type of stainless steel a mystery. The alloy content and hardness are crucial in accurately estimating its bullet resistance.
In any case, 300 series stainless-steel varieties are generally advantageous because they are corrosion-resistant and not necessarily impact-proof. Given the more imminent threat of weather exposure, it makes more sense for a consumer vehicle body to be more resistant to rainfall than gunfire. Between the thickness and quality of the steel, it appears the Cybertruck’s ⅛-inch-thick panel may be able to stop a 9 mm or .22 LR round but little else.
We have seen that the Tesla Cybertruck’s stainless steel panel can stop a 9 mm bullet, but it’s still a far cry from being a legit armored vehicle. Even though the glass is impressively damage-resistant, it doesn’t appear capable of stopping a bullet of any size.
While that may disappoint some people, the fact that we’re talking about how much firepower a consumer pickup can handle is impressive in its own right. Sure, it may not exit the early-morning shootout at the construction site unscathed. But in real-world situations, drivers will likely be blown away by the amount of everyday abuse the Cybertruck can take without batting an eye.