Tesla Cybertruck Steel Body Raises a Lot of Questions About Insurance and Repair Costs

Tesla Cybertruck Steel Body Raises a Lot of Questions About Insurance and Repair Costs

A version of the Tesla Cybertruck has finally been revealed, with the top-of-the-line version offering a claimed 320 miles of range and the ability to launch from zero to 60 mph in only 2.6 seconds. And while not all of the specs are as impressive as what was originally promised, Tesla still delivered in one important area — unpainted, stainless steel body panels. With a unique body, though, comes the challenge of repairing it when the Cybertruck inevitably gets in a wreck.

InsideEVs recently dug into that question, interviewing body shop technicians, insurance agents and even DeLorean enthusiasts. The answers they gave weren’t all doom and gloom, it’s clear that if it’s anything like the DeLorean, repairing a crashed Cybertruck probably won’t be quick or easy. Odds are, damaged body panels are going to have to be replaced, and as many current owners have already learned, getting insurance companies to pony up for repair costs can be a challenge:

“So a lot of customers hire me to fight insurance companies because insurance companies do not want to pay what Tesla requires you do to return a vehicle to pre-loss condition,” said Billy Walkowiak, the CEO of Collision Safety Consultants, a firm in part meant to serve as an advocate and adjudicator for insurance claimants who may not feel like the insurance company is effectively making them whole. “I personally probably do 10 to 15 Teslas a week,” he said.

Walkowiak explained that although we can’t quite yet know what’s going to happen with the Cybertruck, Tesla’s repair procedures have historically skewed toward replacement of parts, rather than repairing parts strategy. Add in the complicated software recalibration procedures and elevated labor costs—only Tesla-certified technicians can repair Tesla vehicles—and it all gets expensive very quickly. Walkowiak shared a Tesla Model 3 claim that was $US22,000, with $US14,000 of that solely being replacement parts. Yikes.

Considering Tesla’s track record of long waits for repairs, even getting your hands on a replacement panel could be a challenge regardless of whether the insurance company is willing to pay for the fix or not. And while aftermarket companies make non-OEM parts for other cars, the alloy used for the Cybertruck’s body panels means owners probably won’t even have the option of going that route if Tesla can’t keep repair shops stocked with a steady supply of replacement panels.

Then again, people also had similar concerns when Ford gave the F-150 an aluminium body, but since then, it’s become less of an issue. If the Cybertruck ends up selling in large enough numbers, the industry will probably figure out how to adapt. As a lower-volume, niche vehicle, on the other hand, it will likely be a different story.

There’s a lot more to the article, and it’s a fascinating read, so head over to InsideEVs to check it out.

Photo: Tesla

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