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Why can I not buy a Tesla Cybertruck in the UK?

By Mathilda Bartholomew | December 4, 2023


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An industry expert suggests that significant modifications to the fundamental structure of the Tesla Cybertruck are necessary for it to meet the requirements for sale in Europe.

Why can I not buy a Tesla Cybertruck in the UK?

After years of anticipation, the Cybertruck has finally hit the roads in the US, but for European Tesla enthusiasts, the wait continues. Despite the European Union being a significant manufacturing hub and market for Tesla, several hurdles stand in the way of the Cybertruck's availability across the Atlantic.

One primary obstacle is the Cybertruck's considerable weight, as revealed in documents submitted to US regulators. The minimum gross vehicle weight range of 8,001 to 9,001 pounds poses a challenge for European regulations, potentially requiring drivers to obtain a category C1 license for vehicles exceeding 3.5 tons. Pedro Pacheco, vice-president of research at Gartner, highlighted this issue, stating, "The vehicle's gross vehicle weight for the dual-motor version is high, above 3.5 tons."

Furthermore, the Cybertruck faces compatibility issues with European charging infrastructure. The Tesla NAC standard utilised in the US differs from the CCS network prevalent in Europe. Pacheco suggests that adjustments, including making the charging technology compatible with CCS and reducing weight, would be necessary for a European version.

The market dynamics in Europe also present a challenge, with pickup trucks, especially those of the Cybertruck's size, being relatively unpopular. Pacheco notes, "For a vehicle in the category of the Cybertruck, there's not a huge market in Europe because pickup trucks generally are not very common."

Elon Musk had hinted at a smaller European version in 2020, but no updates have been provided since. Pacheco speculates that Tesla's reluctance may be influenced by the niche market and the company's focus on meeting demand in North America. Tesla ceased accepting orders for the Cybertruck outside the US last year due to overwhelming demand.

Musk acknowledged the production challenges in an earnings call, admitting that the unique design had posed difficulties. He stated that achieving the target of producing 250,000 Cybertrucks annually might take years, emphasising the enormity of the task.

Additionally, the prospect of selling the Cybertruck in Europe faces regulatory roadblocks. A German TUV safety certification expert highlighted the need for "strong modifications to the basic structure" to comply with European safety regulations, particularly regarding pedestrian safety.

Stefan Teller, an automotive expert at SGS-TUV Saar GmbH, outlined concerns about the Cybertruck's rigidity, stating, "The front of the vehicle must not be stiff. The bumper and bonnet must be able to absorb energy to protect pedestrians." Compliance with 50 to 60 different regulations, including deformation requirements for both occupants and pedestrians, presents a significant challenge for the Cybertruck's mass production and sale in Europe.

In conclusion, while the Cybertruck has made its debut in the US, a series of regulatory, market, and production challenges have created obstacles for its European journey. Whether Tesla will invest the effort needed to overcome these hurdles remains uncertain, leaving European Tesla enthusiasts eagerly awaiting updates on the Cybertruck's potential availability in the region.

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