Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla

First announced back in November 2019, you’d think that the design and engineering of Tesla’s Cybertruck would be pretty close to fully baked as the automaker prepares to begin ramping up production later this year. However, a tweet Saturday by CEO Elon Musk indicates that the automaker is still hard at work adding rear-wheel steering to its sci-fi styled, all-electric pickup and promising “lots of other great things coming.”

Adding degrees of steering to the rear axle of a vehicle comes with a few benefits. Turning the rear counter to the front steering angle reduces the turning radius, making vehicles more nimble and maneuverable at low speeds and in tight quarters, such as parking lots. At higher speeds, a small amount of rear steer in concert with the front can improve stability during highway lane changes. Luxury automakers have been using this feature for years to make their long-wheelbase sedans handle like compact cars, but the feature is also starting to gain traction with this upcoming wave of electric pickup trucks.

The upcoming GMC Hummer uses a high-degree of rear-wheel steering for its “Crab Walk” mode, enabling diagonal movement at rock-crawling speeds to avoid obstacles while off-road. It’s unclear whether Tesla aims to outfit the Cybertruck with such a high degree of rear steering articulation. Then again, everything else about Tesla’s first electric pickup is so wild that a similar feature wouldn’t surprise any of us.

Rear-wheel steering isn’t the only way to boost EV maneuverability. Rivian has demonstrated how it can use its four independent motors to pull off tank-like, zero-radius turns on its R1T electric truck and R1S SUV — a trick that the Cybertruck, with up to three-motor AWD, won’t be able to reproduce.

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla

Musk’s tweet also states that the “Cybertruck will be almost exactly as shown,” so we can expect the low-poly, wedge design and minimalist lightbar illumination will look much like it did during its debut. Beneath the stainless steel, there will be single-, dual- and tri-motor variants offered with the top-spec model boasting around 500 miles of range and a 0-60 spring in around 2.9 seconds.

It’s unclear whether rear-wheel steering will be available to the first batch of tri-motor preorders expected to begin deliveries near the end of this year or added to the feature mix later when volume production — including the more affordable dual- and single-motor models — ramps up at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas in 2022.