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The Tesla Cybertruck could be insanely aerodynamic, Musk says

It may look like a box on wheels, but this rig could be far slipperier than you might think.

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This boxy-looking pickup could slice through the wind with, if not minimal resistance, then less than most trucks.

Tesla/Craig Cole

Tesla's Cybertruck was the most talked-about vehicle of last month's the Los Angeles Auto Show and it wasn't even unveiled at the annual event. Tug-of-war competitions, broken windows, endless commentary from pundits, enthusiasts, detractors and memers -- plus copious Twitter activity from Elon Musk -- have helped keep this all-electric pickup at the top of everyone's news feeds.

Further fanning those flames, over the weekend Tesla's leader tweeted that his latest creation could be incredibly aerodynamic. Despite the Cybertruck's boxy, squared-off body, Musk says it could have a drag coefficient of just 0.30, with "extreme effort."

In comparison, when the latest-generation Ram 1500 came out in model-year 2019, FCA claimed it was the most aerodynamic model in the half-ton segment, with a drag coefficient as low as 0.357. Features like active grille shutters, a movable front air dam and an air-suspension system that lowers at speed all help reduce undesirable drag.

Supporting his claim, Musk mentioned the Cybertruck could achieve laminar air flow, a situation where layers of a fluid move largely undisturbed along a surface, something that reduces drag. This could be achieved thanks to the Tesla pickup's smooth belly. In comparison, conventional trucks typically have extremely irregular under-bodies, with steering components, axles, driveshafts, frame rails and myriad other components creating undesirable air resistance while in motion.

Tesla Cybertruck promo

Is this vehicle from the future or was it designed in the Soviet Union around 1984?

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Musk also said the Cybertruck's various hard edges can help improve aerodynamics. Carefully guiding air around the wheels is another trick that could reduce drag. The vehicle's covered cargo bed, or vault in Tesla nomenclature, should also aid efficiency.

Tesla is no stranger to building aerodynamic vehicles, so there's no reason the Cybertruck couldn't be shockingly aerodynamic, even if it does look like it's made of Lego. Its Model 3 sedan is already incredibly slippery, with a drag coefficient of 0.23. The firm's Model X utility vehicle supposedly has the lowest drag of any SUV available today.

Putting all this to the test, the Boats and Engines channel on YouTube posted an intriguing video regarding the Cybertruck's aerodynamics. They ran a model of this vehicle through some computational fluid dynamics software to get a rough idea of how air flows around its angular body. The results of this testing were surprising. While traveling at 88 mph, a significant speed in popular culture, the video's host estimates this vehicle's coefficient of drag is probably around 0.30, which is right in line with what Tesla claims. If you've got some spare time, give the video a watch; it's not very long.

Making the body as sleek as possible is vital for increasing vehicle efficiency and capability. When properly equipped, the Cybertruck could have a driving range of more than 500 miles with a zero-to-60 acceleration time of less than 3 seconds. It's also expected to tow up to 14,000 pounds.

Roadshow reached out to Tesla for comment about the Cybertruck's aerodynamics but the automaker did not immediately respond.