By on November 26, 2019

As part of Tesla Motors’ debut of Cybertruck, CEO Elon Musk showed a clip in which the EV pickup yanks a Ford F-150 uphill against its will. The Blue Oval is also building an all-electric pickup, in addition to already manufacturing the best-selling truck model in history. Clearly, Tesla clearly wanted to place both on notice, though the video only provides evidence that Cybertruck can tug a rear-drive F-Series uphill in a video Tesla produced to show exactly that outcome.

Media outlets began musing if this was really a fair fight, apparently forgetting how advertising works, while science celeb Neil deGrasse Tyson offered a public physics lessons. “We all love Torque. But high Torque just spins a tire in place if there’s not enough weight to provide traction,” he said in response to the video. “Fully load the F150, giving highest traction to its rear wheels, then try to drag that up the hill. I otherwise agree: Load both to the max and the highest torque wins.”

Mr. Tyson’s new role as a Ford Truck Man remains unconfirmed, but the more likely scenario is that he’s simply trying to make sure the test is at least mildly scientific. Ford agreed, saying a fair test between brands was just what the doctor ordered. 

While Musk and Tyson debated the physics of the test, Ford X’s Sunny Madra suggested Tesla send over a Cybertruck so it could conduct the test in a fairer manner. It’s really dumb, as our own Steph Willems noted earlier in the day, as we all know the likelihood of this happening is precisely zero. Tesla’s pretty careful about who it lets reviews its production vehicles; sending Ford Motor Co a prototype pickup that it could take apart and examine is never going to happen.

The best we can hope for is both companies meeting in a dark alley to yank each other around a parking lot (the trucks, I mean). Yet even that seems like wishful thinking. Most automakers won’t even consider setting up live tests where they can’t stack the deck in their favor. We’d wager that’s what held back the big Tesla v Porsche showdown that never happened. Since every new electric car is a prospective “Tesla Killer,” the media wagered Porsche’s Taycan (formerly the Mission E) would beat it on a racetrack — as if it mattered.

None of these are direct comparisons. Porsche’s cars always have a performance angle, whereas Tesla is trying to build comfortable cruisers that can still manage blisteringly fast quarter-mile times (if you’ve got the green). Meanwhile, Ford’s F-150 is the default pickup for regular people. The thing even has its own emoji, for Christ’s sake.

But Cybetruck sneers at its utility and normality, offering trendiness and attitude instead. The outcome of any hypothetical tow competition doesn’t really matter because there’s little overlap between their customer base. Sure, it’d be a neat spectacle, but what would it change and who would it benefit? They’ve already got us talking about it during the holiday lull.

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62 Comments on “Tesla v Ford Probably Ain’t Happening...”


  • avatar

    “the more likely scenario is that he’s simply trying to make sure the test is at least mildly scientific. ”

    Err… This was a publicity stunt. I don’t think scientific method was applied or required to make the point.

    All’s fair in love and war.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Tow offs don’t prove much.

      Tesla claims *up to* 3,500 lb payload. A 3,500 lb payload puts it in the same class as a 3/4 ton truck. I doubt the Tesla could win a “tow off” with a F250.

      Tesla claims anywhere from 250 – 500 mile range depending on configuration. A 500 mile range under load would be the only one I’d be interested in.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        seeing the squat on the Tesla from just a motorcycle and I’ve got to think 3500# is optimistic. I’ve seen the f150 stunt with a Tesla X before too and the Tesla did well in the tug of war. I think the Tesla will always do very well in the tug of war tests because Tesla has extraordinary traction control.

        I’ve also watched the TFL vid with the X towing a minor load (like 2000#) and running out of juice very quickly, almost not making it to the next fast charge station. I can’t remember the exact amount, but the 300 miles of range got cut in half.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @Mricky: “seeing the squat on the Tesla from just a motorcycle and I’ve got to think 3500# is optimistic.”

          You can lower the suspension to make loading easier. That’s what you are seeing.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I think this Tesla–Ford pairing is most illustrative:

    https://funkyimg.com/i/2Z3oJ.jpg

    Day after day, an ICE is needed to get the job done.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Funny.

      Steam shovels built the Panama Canal, too, but nobody uses them today. I just think we’re at a transitional time in automotive history that is painful for all sides of the discussion.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        Respectfully good sir, the photograph I posted speaks for itself. Even Tesla recognizes that ICE power remains not just relevant, but essential, in today’s world…which is all I am concerned with.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Electric forklifts are used every day inside the Ford assembly plant where that truck was assembled:
          https://tinyurl.com/rkt6qqg

          Day after day, electric vehicles are needed to get the job done.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Ooops that one is propane – LOLOLOLOL!!!

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            Because forklifts are the same as automobiles.

            You Tesla cult members need to come up with better comebacks.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Sorry, let me try again:
            https://funkyimg.com/i/2Z3oJ.jpg

            There’s an ICE and an EV in that picture (ignoring the trailer and opposing traffic).

            Why is the ICE company planning to introduce multiple EV models? (Pretty sure the EV company isn’t introducing any ICE models.)

            Didn’t realize I was a Tesla cult member. Is there a Ford cult?

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            We aren’t discussing material handling equipment though, are we? We are discussing cars and trucks on the roads.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            R Henry,

            Please see my second attempt.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          “Respectfully good sir, the photograph I posted speaks for itself. Even Tesla recognizes that ICE power remains not just relevant, but essential, in today’s world…which is all I am concerned with.”

          This is all gonna sound quaint in another 20 years when pure-electric and electric-hybrid vehicles are dominating America’s roadways, especially once solid-state battery technology takes off.

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            This may be true. In fact, I even hope it is true. I would very much like to see American industry propel the world into the next technological frontier. My comments about the photograph are firmly grounded in contemporary reality, not dreamy futurism.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    One disadvantage the Cybertruck had in this “test” was that the tow strap isn’t level. The vehicle with the higher tie point can effectively lift the other vehicle’s weight off the rear wheels. In this case, the Ford had the higher tie point, giving it a slight advantage on that variable.

    But not testing it against a 4WD truck with locked axles was unfair and silly. I’ve seen other similar videos where a Cummins RAM will drag a GM truck around backwards. These swordfights never end well.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    That entire presentation by that fraud Musk was fraught with lies. And that fraud of a towing test was yet another example of that.

    Why the media gives that blowhard so much attention is beyond me. He’s a fraud. Ignore him

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Musk, like nearly all visionaries, is at once deeply gifted and deeply deluded. We can, if we are honest with ourselves, see both his brilliance and his hubris. Does one element cancel the other? No. Both matter.

      I admire some Muskian accomplishments, while I am shocked at how his failures bring serious, predictable consequences for others…and his disinterest in those uncomfortable details.

      I really hope his direct-to-consumer sales model brings needed reform to the dealership model. I hope he is able to continue expanding the American manufacturing sector. I know the electronics contained in Model 3 are far superior to any competing product. I also know he lies, cheats, and steals to gain public subsidies, and that his marketing promises are about as reliable as those of garden variety politicians…which is to say, not reliable at all. He can be both profound and petulant in a single sentence.

      Musk is a mixed bag. On balance, I admire what he has accomplished in some sectors, but do not admire him on a personal level as a man. No, I would not like to have a beer with him.

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        R Henry, is your Avatar a Holly Double Pumper? Just had to ask?

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          Not a double pumper, just an ordinary model 4160…used by hot rodders on countless American V8s…the most”universal” vacuum secondary model with electrically assisted auto choke. Most rodders can reliably take it out of the box, bolt it on, plumb it, and have a great running engine with very little fettling. Great carburetor for most hobbyists.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “I also know he lies, cheats, and steals to gain public subsidies”

        Huh? What are you talking about?

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          https://mises.org/wire/elon-muskss-taxpayer-funded-gravy-train

          • 0 avatar
            addm

            I don’t understand the subsidy part about Tesla at all. If I remember correctly they paid back the govt loan with interest.
            Considering GM was bankrupt and govt footed the whole bill, this Tesla talk about govt subsidy is completely disingenuous.
            Your quoted article is flight of ideas, Making blanket statements about Musk companies and see what sticks.
            Trying to malign SpaceX for govt support is ridiculous since it is the only commercially viable launch provider US has. It also provide cheapest services to the US government as compare to Boeing and Lockheed Martin

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Can you find that from a source worth reading?

          • 0 avatar
            R Henry

            Do you dispute any of the information provided there?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    That entire presentation by that fraud Musk was fraught with lies. And that fraud of a towing test was yet another example of that.

    Why the media gives that blowhard so much attention is beyond me. He’s a fraud. Ignore him

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I didn’t realize just how huge the Cybertruck is; like a three-foot longer H1. Many think that regular pickups have grown to the point where they’re stretching the bounds of everyday usability. Tesla is threatening to sell something that dwarfs them the way they dwarf a Volvo?

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      At the reveal Musk said the Tesla would fit into the ‘footprint’ (all dimensions) of the Ford.

      I’m seeing:
      231.7 long, 79.8 wide and 75 inches tall for the Tesla, and
      209-251 long, 80-86 wide and 75-79 tall for the F-150.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The Ford has mirrors.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          F-150 width is 79.9 excluding mirrors,
          83.5 standard mirrors folded,
          85.5 trailer tow mirrors folded,
          96.8 including standard mirrors,
          105.9 including trailer tow mirrors

          Source (possibly hacked by Tesla):
          https://media.ford.com/content/dam/fordmedia/North%20America/US/product/2019/f-150/2019-F-150.pdf

          But your primary concern was length? (Wait, rephrase lol)

          That Ford site shows F-150 length at 231.9 for 6.5ft Styleside
          and 250.5 for 8.0ft Styleside.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Those were Regular Cab. Supercrew shows 231.9 for 5.5ft
            and 243.7 for 6.5ft (widths are same as Regular Cab).

            [Not sure where the “209” which Google showed comes in??]

            tl;dr – Tesla is 0.2 inches shorter than F-150 (6.5ft Regular Cab or 5.5ft Supercrew) and 0.1 inches narrower (with mirrors excluded on both vehicles).

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            OK, 209.3 is the good old ‘regular cab’ XL (no back seat).

            [Trucks are complicated.]

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “But your primary concern was length? (Wait, rephrase lol)”

            My primary concern is that I watched the video where the Tesla looks like a giant piece of earth moving equipment parked stern-to against the crew-cab Ford. I trust my eyes more than I trust numbers from Elon Musk.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Got it – thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            The scale does look off if they are similar sized. The Tesla has a foot longer bed lenghth (The F150 is a 5.5 foot bed…there is a 6.5 as well, but the 5.5 is by far the most popular in half ton guise.

            Also hope that is an early prototype of the Tesla…It looks like a kit car in comparison.

            But yeah, it may in fact be dimensionally smaller than the F150, but it sure doesn’t look like it in the video. Something is amiss.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      The H1 is 184.5″ long. Add three feet, and that’s 220.5″ long; shorter than most full size pickups, except the ones with the shortest beds.

      (And an H1 is 86.2″ wide and 77″ tall – not actually bigger than a full size pickup, maybe a hair wider if that width doesn’t include mirrors.

      It looks “huge” because of its odd off-roader proportions.)

      The Tesla is just barely bigger than a Suburban, on paper.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Man, I don’t know what Elon’s thing with Ford is. It’s almost like… you know how a kid in 7th grade doesn’t know how to talk to girls, so he picks on and teases the girl he likes because he thinks that’s “flirting?”

    That’s what Elon seems to be doing.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    That tug-of-war and other similar tests will occur… but probably not until after the first production models of the Cybertruck come out

  • avatar
    arthurk45

    Ford’s electric F150 will come to market about the same time as Cybertruck, perhaps sooner,and THAT is the vehicle Tesla has to compete against. Cybertruck is so incredibly ugly I have my doubts that anyone really wants to be see in one. Musk proves once again that he has no taste.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    How much will Ford sales decrease when all the Tesla Ranger mobile repair folks start driving Cybertrucks? Or will they still need a fleet of Fords to keep the Cybertrucks running? I will say the new Musk “invented” 30X alloy stainless 3mm thick body should solve the paint and rust problems the sedans have.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I wasn’t aware the aluminum bodied vehicle in the picture with the Tesla had a Rust problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      That stainless steel body will also fix the problem of being able to repair/refinish panels. Sheet metal damage? Replace the entire panel. Sounds totally practical. And how well will it crush in a collision to absorb impacts?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      stainless steel still absolutely rusts, especially when exposed to heavy concentrations of salt water.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @indi500fan: I would remind you that back in the winter of ’13/’14, Tesla drove two Model S sedans from Fremont to NYC…during the New Years week–a total of four days driving by a rather convoluted route. The Teslas did not drive alone, as they has a pair of ICE cargo vans as support vehicles in the event of breakdown. The two Teslas arrived in NYC without issue and never needed service. One of the support vans broke down in Nebraska, I believe, and had to be abandoned, its crew hopping a flight to Chicago to pick up another van and rejoin the cars.

      Now, to me that suggests that when they are able, and if the CYBRTRCK can carry the needed tools and supplies (currently carried in an enclosed van) then I am quite sure they will use the truck both for its economy and for its advertising potential.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    That is one of the ugliest vehicles I have ever seen. Maybe ugly is in and people want to buy the ugliest vehicle on the road. The Aztec was just ahead of its time. This is one time that I would like to see the final production model different than the prototype,

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