Musk has to ship the Cybertruck with mirrors, but you may want to check with the DMV before taking them off.
On August 18, Elon Musk took to Twitter to deliver some news on the Tesla Cybertruck. After reassuring fans and order holders that the much-delayed truck is still, in fact, on the way, Musk has said that part of your Cybertruck can be removed just as soon as it hits your driveway.
"Modifying your car after delivery is legal in America, so yes," stated Tesla's boss man. The statement was in answer to a question asking if owners would legally be able to remove the side mirror of the Cybertruck after delivery. The answer is, as you might expect, much more complicated than that.
There are certain regulations that vehicles must meet so that they can go into production and be out in the world without killing, endangering, or massively inconveniencing anyone. For example, in America, your taillights must not move with the trunk so that if your trunk is popped at night, people can still see you. The same is, roughly, true of mirrors.
You've got to be able to see people out of your Cybertruck, Jeep, or other vehicles that you may want to rip the mirrors off. In truth, all cars must be produced with mirrors, not cameras, or anything else, as of the Fed's last update in 2018. Camera systems may be installed, but these are additional, not primary, means of seeing behind you. Here's the legalese:
"Except as provided in S5.3, the mirror shall provide a field of view with an included horizontal angle measured from the projected eye point of at least 20 degrees, and a sufficient vertical angle to provide a view of a level road surface extending to the horizon beginning at a point not greater than 61 m to the rear of the vehicle when the vehicle is occupied by the driver and four passengers or the designated occupant capacity, if less, based on an average occupant weight of 68 kg."
These standards apply to both passenger cars and multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), which is what the Cybertruck will likely be classified as. The classifications are as follows: "...multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), trucks, and buses, other than school buses, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,536 kilograms (kg) (10,000 pounds) or less."
Now, Musk is correct in saying that your car may be modified after delivery. There's an entire industry based around that simple fact, after all. However, each state, given how our government works (something too broad to go into here), can also regulate how mirrors are used. Those variations vary, and wildly so. For example, in Arkansas, side mirrors are only necessary if you can't see out the center mirror. The same can be said of Arizona. However, in California, things are a little more complicated.
If the vehicle is CA-registered, a left side mirror is required in tandem with either a center or right side mirror. If the view out the center is obstructed, you'll need a right-side mirror. In all three states listed, 200 feet of rear visibility is required out the back of the car. The point being, the regulations you deal with may vary depending on the state in which you live.
For further clarity on the matter. CarBuzz reached out to the NHTSA to see whether any application had been made for exemption from the rearview mirror requirements. A Spokesperson confirmed to us that an exemption petition and two rulemaking petitions had been received in the past, but only one of these included Tesla in alliance with Audi (as part of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers). However, to date, the legislation has not been altered, which means side mirrors are still mandatory as far as the agency is concerned.
The NHTSA further added that, "absent an exemption, all motor vehicles sold in the United States are required to comply with all applicable safety standards. The Safety Act prohibits manufacturers, distributors, dealers, rental companies and repair businesses from knowingly making inoperative any aspect of a vehicle required for compliance with the Federal safety standards. NHTSA urges vehicle owners not to take any actions that would undermine the safety of their vehicles. Furthermore, state law may require that vehicles operated in the state be equipped with side view mirrors."
So, at the end of the day, Musk will have to ship his Cybertruck with the mirrors. He can, as Jeep and Ford have done with the Wrangler and Bronco, make those mirrors very easy to remove. What he can't do is tell you that unilaterally, you can ditch those mirrors when the car shows up. We recommend instead asking your local DMV what the state regulations are once you've taken delivery of your truck, regardless of how Cyber it is.