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Exoskeleton body repair cost

MagnusMako

Member
Jan 29, 2019
803
1,407
Austin, TX
I think it's too early with too many unknown's to say for sure that accident repairs are going to be astronomical. They may have some innovation in their particular implementation that will make it not as expensive as one might think.
 

AltLogic

Member
May 14, 2018
252
309
SoCal
Hmmm..... There was a car produced that had a bonded aluminum frame. If someone hit a curb too hard it would rip out a suspension mounting point. This required a new frame since the manufacturer did not allow repairs to the frame. The labor cost of replacing the frame exceeded the value of the vehicle last time I checked. I am referring to the Lotus Elise. I believe a couple of other companies had cars that were based on the same design. Opel was one and I think there was a US company too.

Insurance was not unreasonably expensive for those cars.

I’m guessing that the Cybertruck can take much more than the aforementioned three vehicles before it requires a new exoskeleton.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
6,879
Canyon Lake,CA
By the time these come out, you will be able to purchase insurance directly from Tesla. Let them worry about body damage.

Looks like the panels are fairly robust and inexpensive to provide.
 
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Ludus

Member
May 1, 2013
367
126
Michigan
Stainless steel shows scratches easily. I think many customers (including me) might wrap their Cybertrucks. Or at least wrap it with clear paint protection film.

THAT would make it show scratches easily. This is 301 Stainless like SpaceX Starship or my kitchen pots and utensils, it doesn’t show scratches easily.
 
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axhoaxho

Member
Sep 11, 2019
167
206
San Francisco Bay Area
THAT would make it show scratches easily. This is 301 Stainless like SpaceX Starship or my kitchen pots and utensils, it doesn’t show scratches easily.

I collect watches, and many watch cases/brackets are made of 301 Stainless Steel. I have been polishing 301 SS for years, and I could tell that 301 SS shows scratches easily.

stainless_steel_.jpg
 
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PhantomX

Member
Sep 29, 2016
472
418
Irvine
I am curious, for anyone thinking it's better to have a car that doesn't sustain damage when hitting other solid objects, what do you think on this car would absorb energy from a crash? There is a reason why modern cars deform during a crash to absorb energy, so the Cybertruck will need to do something similar unless this truck works in a world with alternative laws of physics.
 
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Ludus

Member
May 1, 2013
367
126
Michigan
It seems to be made by a process like steel origami. Current car body repair is expensive because the stamped body panels made of thin soft steel sell for extravagant amounts of money compared to their marginal cost. A panel with a few dollars worth of steel in it might cost $500. The production process with giant stamping presses might make another one in a run for a few bucks but the OEM will warehouse and sell it for 100X that much.

The stainless steel in a segment of the truck body that was scored and folded into a shape (that was damaged in a collision) probably costs a lot more than the steel in the body panel but a lot less than the OEM charges for the part. I may be wrong about this but it seems to me that this process may allow a relatively small shop to manufacture new body 3D parts on demand from sheet stainless steel. Tesla might control this process and could keep prices reasonable if they wanted. Or they could make large profits from it.
 

Ludus

Member
May 1, 2013
367
126
Michigan
I collect watches, and many watch cases/brackets are made of 301 Stainless Steel. I have been polishing 301 SS for years, and I could tell that 301 SS shows scratches easily.

stainless_steel_.jpg
I suppose it depends on what you expect the surface to look like. I assume the surface of these trucks is more like a pot or flatware and less like a watch.
 

Ludus

Member
May 1, 2013
367
126
Michigan
I am curious, for anyone thinking it's better to have a car that doesn't sustain damage when hitting other solid objects, what do you think on this car would absorb energy from a crash? There is a reason why modern cars deform during a crash to absorb energy, so the Cybertruck will need to do something similar unless this truck works in a world with alternative laws of physics.

It would crumple in front or rear collisions that have a lot more energy than a sledgehammer. Rigidity in side collisions is important for passenger safety because there isn’t much room to collapse without causing harm. Teslas top safety ratings in side impact are helped by the rigidity of the battery pack.
 

axhoaxho

Member
Sep 11, 2019
167
206
San Francisco Bay Area
I suppose it depends on what you expect the surface to look like. I assume the surface of these trucks is more like a pot or flatware and less like a watch.

Stainless steel pots, watches, body panels..... they all have some kind of polished finish. Polishing is a form of scratching the surface, in a beautiful way.
 

PhantomX

Member
Sep 29, 2016
472
418
Irvine
It would crumple in front or rear collisions that have a lot more energy than a sledgehammer. Rigidity in side collisions is important for passenger safety because there isn’t much room to collapse without causing harm. Teslas top safety ratings in side impact are helped by the rigidity of the battery pack.

Side impact energy still need to be absorbed and dissipated, otherwise it's up to the airbag and the passenger body. If you look at side impact tests from cars that do well, including Tesla, they all deform substantially to absorb energy, but not enough to cause serious harm to passengers. This is needed for Cybertruck as well if they want this to be a safe as others.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,882
11,948
California
I am curious, for anyone thinking it's better to have a car that doesn't sustain damage when hitting other solid objects, what do you think on this car would absorb energy from a crash? There is a reason why modern cars deform during a crash to absorb energy, so the Cybertruck will need to do something similar unless this truck works in a world with alternative laws of physics.
The entire body structure is a crumple structure. It's designed to progressively deform in a crash. Much better than just a frame with flimsy sheet metal tacked on.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
9,882
11,948
California
I collect watches, and many watch cases/brackets are made of 301 Stainless Steel. I have been polishing 301 SS for years, and I could tell that 301 SS shows scratches easily.

stainless_steel_.jpg
That's a patina. I expect the Tesla SS body will look the same after years of wear and tear. If it bothers you, it can be buffed to a uniform sheen. Nice thing about SS is that it is like wood. You can leave it rough, buff to a texture or a smooth shine.
 

aronth5

Long Time Follower
Supporting Member
May 8, 2010
2,749
1,619
Boston Suburb
I collect watches, and many watch cases/brackets are made of 301 Stainless Steel. I have been polishing 301 SS for years, and I could tell that 301 SS shows scratches easily.

One thing to remember is we don't know how the stainless steel actually used in the Cybertruck compares to standard 301 Stainless Steel. We do know from Elon's comment it is different and may in fact be stronger and be more difficult to scratch..
We also know Tesla and SpaceX share expertise.

https://electrek.co/2016/02/24/apple-alloy-expert-tesla-spacex/
 

SamDean

Member
Feb 4, 2019
108
103
Kansas City
1: I think that the steel is a testament to its rugged nature. I have a few friends with H1's. The scratches and dings on their $80k Hummers are almost badges of honor. I could see these being more of than that than being the car people are making detailing videos about on Youtube.

2: Just because it's an Exoskeleton, does not mean that pieces are not replaceable. I imagine that there is a strategy in place to disassemble certain parts and reassemble good as new.

I guess we will have to wait and see.
 

Evbwcaer

Member
Jun 21, 2014
746
333
Minnesota
I worked for years making stainless steel kitchen equipment and my skills are beyond what would be needed to repair body damage on the Cybertruck, as I used to make sinks and other curved and polished surfaces.

First off, the general repairability. Easy, especially because the body is basically flat. You could cut the damage out, make a new piece and tig weld it in. It looks like one brake/kink/crease is all that would be needed, if any at all. Grinding the weld down may require some skill depending on the finish desired.

Second, scratches. This all depends on the finish of the truck. Most people think of kitchen stainless steel, and that is grained cosmetically. Look at a stainless fridge, there is grain. When grained stainless scratches, it can be polished out by a skilled person, but it is not especially hard or time consuming, even easier on flat surfaces. Fine scratches can be blended with a Scotch pad, always going with the grain.

However, if the stainless is not grained rather swirled, well then any scratch could be perfectly removed in about 60 seconds with a 30$ tool, this includes fairly deep scratches.

How great would that be, no paint work, no corrosion concerns, no blending, basically hit it with a palm sander.

What I don't know is exactly what is being the stainless skin. Are there stainless ribs, gussets, etc., that would complicate repairs?

To me, besides weight, stainless is kind of the dream material. It is very workable, repairable, is everything-proof.

The Discovery Channel had a series about what would happen if humans went extinct. They concluded that the last evidence of humanity would be a stainless steel sink sitting in a swamp 50 millions years later.

So, if you have a swirl finish, any cosmetic scratching is soooo easily and cheaply fixed.

If you have a polished/grain finish, scratches are less easily repaired, but still far more easy that dealing with paint.

For body/exoskeleton damage, as long as there is are not complex structures behind the damage, it is very doable.
 

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Evbwcaer

Member
Jun 21, 2014
746
333
Minnesota
One more thing, in some cases dents can be removed from stainless by simple thermal shock. Heat the stainless with a TIG torch and then "shock" it with snow or ice water and the dent pops out.

I did this on kitchen equipment, I would want to know more about the metalurgy of this for something more safety critical, but it might again be an option that would not work on painted surfaces (too hot).
 

axhoaxho

Member
Sep 11, 2019
167
206
San Francisco Bay Area
From the DeLorean guys. Good read.

bodytop.gif




Care & Feeding - Stainless Steel Body Maintenance


No special care is needed in keeping the body looking beautiful. It is maintained about the same way you clean your stainless kitchen sink. Minor scratches and scuff marks are readily removed with a "Scotchbrite" pad by rubbing with the original grain of the panels. The only precaution is to minimize any rubbing across the grain of the panels as this may scuff them. The best advice to keep the stainless steel in good condition is to keep your DeLorean clean and avoid using metal abrasives when rubbing out scuff marks. The owners manual advises "Wash panels with warm water and low suds detergent. Stains of tar or grease may be removed with gasoline or white mineral spirits." How many auto manufacturers recommend using paint thinner to remove stubborn stains from the body? Larger/deeper scratches and severe abuse require the use of the original texturing jigs to get the grain correct. These are not difficult to come by and there are numerous service centers (especially the larger original dealerships) that have this expertise.

The panels come easily off the car and are therefore easy to work with in the event of a dent. Minor dents can be readily removed by those skilled in working with stainless steel, but catastrophic crashes require panel replacement. Those skilled in working with stainless steel tell me that dents can often be removed with nothing but the proper application of heat.

The stainless steel panels are not indestructible and some seemingly harmless acts may result in severe damage to the finish. Contrary to popular belief, SOS pads or steel wool damages the stainless steel. Steel wool leaves small metal particles (from the steel wool) embedded in the grain of the stainless steel which rusts -- giving the impression that the stainless steel is rusting. Also metal abrasives (SOS pads) act as reducing agents, chemically reacting with the outer oxidation layer of the stainless panels and destroying some of their stainless properties. Iron compounds in general react with the steel -- bleeding on your car or leaving a slice of bologne on your hood may cause persistent blemishes that are difficult or impossible to remove. Although very resistant to nitric acid, SS304 is not very resistant to phosphoric and some other acids.

DeLorean Frequently Asked Questions - Care & Feeding
 

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