Tesla wasn't kidding when it said it sent the design to other automakers.
The Tesla Cybertruck is the first vehicle ever to run completely on a 48-volt architecture instead of the 12-volt system that has been around since the 1950s, and as a challenge/olive branch to rival automakers, Tesla reportedly sent out a document titled "How To Design a 48-Volt Vehicle" to several CEOs. This might seem like a silly troll, but those documents have actually been received by at least one major automaker.
"They weren't joking," Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, posted on X. "We received the document today, dated Dec. 5th. Thanks, Elon Musk. Great for the industry!" This would not be the first time Tesla has willingly shared patents in the past and may even share Full Self Driving in the near future, but will other automakers actually use this one?
Other vehicles on the market use 48-volt mild-hybrid systems to control features like adaptive suspension and anti-roll, like the ingenious system Multimatic created for the Ferrari Purosangue. But using this type of electrical architecture on an entire vehicle allowed Tesla engineers to make some major innovations on the Cybertruck.
For example, this is the first production vehicle with a true steer-by-wire system that has no physical connection to the wheels, not even a backup. Infiniti has sold something similar for years (with a physical backup steering rack), and Lexus is also working on it for the RZ, but the project has been delayed until 2025.
Beyond the ability to power the steering, the 48-volt system improves power delivery and efficiency while allowing Tesla to reduce the number of copper cables by one-fourth. That saves Tesla (or another automaker) money in production, which it can then pass on to consumers.
Tesla reportedly has a "Secret Accessories Team" tasked with working on special add-ons that work with the Cybertruck's 48-volt system. Since Tesla designed this system in-house, it should be way ahead of the industry in terms of developing new features to take advantage of the higher voltage.
Will other automakers respond? Possibly, but it will take some time. Legacy automakers have been stuck using 12-volt systems for over half a century, so it won't be a quick pivot to 48-volt even with the help of Tesla's manual. First, these automakers will pore over it for months, then they'll look for ways to improve on it, then they'll start experimenting, and then we'll see a concept.
It's cool to see Ford's CEO acknowledge the document and thank Tesla, but it will likely be years before we see these ideas integrated into an F-150 Lightning.