By on December 13, 2019

There’s many unknown aspects of the Tesla Cybertruck, not least of which is its curb weight, but a recent letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) reveals that Elon Musk’s retro-futuristic brainchild might have no business engaging in a one-on-one with the Ford F-150.

According to the letter, Tesla is pursuing a medium-duty classification for the triangular pickup, placing in in competition not with the F-150, but the F-250.

The document, seen by Automotive News, quotes Sarah Van Cleve, Tesla’s senior managing policy advisor, as saying, “While we have not yet begun production of the Cybertruck, we expect it to have a towing capacity of 7,500-14,000+ lbs., and it should very likely qualify as a ‘Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle.”

Class 2B trucks, like the F-250, Ram 2500, and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500, carry a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,501 to 10,000 pounds. Regular full-size (half-ton) pickups fall into the 2A category.

In the past, Musk has claimed an expected max payload of 3,500 pounds for the Cybertruck, with a max towing capacity of “more than” 14,000 lbs. Forgetting the F-150, which comes close to Tesla’s would-be payload rating in a certain guise, the F-250 Super Duty easily tops the Cybertruck’s specs. It trounces the towing figure when equipped with the newly upgraded 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8. (Ford’s Super Duty line underwent a comprehensive revamp for 2020.)

All of this call into question the Cybertruck’s actual weight, which factors heavily into GVWR calculations and a truck’s resulting class.

It also makes one wonder whether Tesla will bother staging another tug challenge between its creation and the model it wants to unseat: the F-150. The previous “test” earned a rebuke from Ford after an all-wheel drive Cybertruck was filmed towing a rear-drive F-150 uphill, placing additional weight above the Ford’s non-drive axle. And does it matter at this point?

Tesla fans will love the Cybertruck no matter what, while Ford fans will now demand Tesla pick on someone its own size (knowing that the F-250’s specs should ensure a win).

[Image: Tesla]

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48 Comments on “Cybertruck Headed for Medium-duty Classification?...”


  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Anybody know the number of potential Cybertruck buyers in the historically, no-nonsense Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle category? I venture to guess that number is very low.

    It seems like this product and launch seems to be akin to a ballroom dance competition on the rim of the Grand Canyon. I won’t participate but it will likely be entertaining to watch.

    Make mine a Rivian.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      “Anybody know the number of potential Cybertruck buyers in the historically, no-nonsense Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle category?”

      About 10% of the currently rostered players of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. And a few Hollyweird bigs like Ahnold. Maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Anybody know the number of potential Cybertruck buyers in the historically, no-nonsense Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle category? I venture to guess that number is very low.”

      I’d say it’s as close to zero as possible. the people I see online who have (or claim they have) reserved one are not truck people at all, and I think this is just an opportunity for them to proudly give Elon more money.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “the model it wants to unseat: the F-150”

    This is humorous. The TESLA plant in Fremont, CA, formerly operated by NUMMI (Toyota/GM partnership) was able to produce about 460,000 units annually at peak production. TESLA will certainly not “unseat” F150 with such paltry a paltry production number….

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “All of this call into question the Cybertruck’s actual weight, which factors heavily into GVWR calculations and a truck’s resulting class.”

    yep. this thing is going to be a porker. Having your curb weight be within spitting distance of your GVWR would not be a good look. Though I don’t know why the Tesla rep brought up towing capacity since that contributes to GCWR and I don’t think that factors into truck classification.

  • avatar
    Dan

    This was a foregone conclusion, getting a decent range out of a full sized vehicle takes a literal ton of batteries. Even their middling sized SUV already weighs close to three tons. This one is going to be at least 6500, 7000 if they put a commensurately sized (200ish kWh) battery in. Even a moderate payload, never mind the claimed 3500 (which would ruin ride quality and will probably come down) already puts you past 8500 gvwr.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @dan: Given the production date, 500kWh/kg batteries could be available. That would put the weight of the cells (not the pack with cooling etc) for a 200 kWh at about 440 lbs. How much does a V8, 10-speed transmission, and 30 gallons of gas weigh these days? Still, you might be right about the weight. I’m wondering what that body is going to weigh.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        “How much does a V8, 10-speed transmission, and 30 gallons of gas weigh these days?”

        Why is that relevant to the discussion? OK, I’ll bite. Probably less than 200kWh worth of cells, the caseing for said sells, the electronics for the pack, the cooling for the pack, the heavy guage wiring for the pack, the Electric motor, the onboard charging stack, the inverter, and the electric motors themselves.

        Given the body tech involved here (what seems to be crazy thick stainless steel and alot of it, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the F150 EV with it’s aluminum body on frame construction is going to be lighter.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        The Tesla 85 kWh pack including case is about 1250 pounds for the Model S. Unless Panasonic has invented some new lithium cell beyond the 2070 they churn out in the Tesla Gigafactory, you’re looking at well over a ton for a 200 kWh pack. 440 lbs? You’re dreaming.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Unless Panasonic has invented some new lithium cell beyond the 2070 they churn out in the Tesla Gigafactory”

          2070 is a form factor. Dimensions. 20 is the diameter. 70 is the length. And yes, new technology beyond the 260 Wh/kg gravimetric density they have now is going into production soon.

          They have in fact cut the weight of the CELLs at least in half. New technology from Tesla’s battery lab in Canada and a company they bought named Maxwell makes it possible. A competitor, CATL is now at 300 Wh/kg and I think they’ve said they can get to 500 Wh/kg as well.

          Art is right about the cooling, wiring etc. it adds a lot of weight to the pack. That’s why I was careful to say CELLS. So, I’m not dreaming. My own projects are heavily dependent on getting lighter weight batteries so I keep close tabs on the technology. Those numbers are real and what they expect to have in mass production soon.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I watched the engineering explained video about towing with ev’s. It just doesn’t sound like batteries are where they need to be yet to do this- maybe not too far away, but not yet.

    Good for them for pushing the envelope though.

    • 0 avatar
      How_Embarrassing_4You

      That’s spot on. For all the grief given I guess you can say hey, at least there’s someone out there willing to push that limit. We are still VERY early into our technology, very early, and while I know the younger generation feels like it’s on the top the tech world, we have only scratched but a small surface of it. There’s still many many many years to go. This generation will be hearing “okay boomer” themselves long before we get there.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Towing capacity has nothing to do with truck classification, which shows how little Tesla understands the truck market.

    GVWR is what determines the class, 2a is for trucks with a GVWR between 6,001 and 8,500 and 2b is 8,501 to 10,0000. So yeah it will be a 2b if it has a 3,000lb payload as there is no way its curb weight will come in under 5,501 lbs.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    This Ford truck buyer could not care less what the results of a meaningless tug of war are with an F250.

    Hitch both trucks to 14,000 lb and see which one goes farther before refueling.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “Hitch both trucks to 14,000 lb and see which one goes farther before refueling.”

      Yup. And HOW LONG it takes each one to get refueled…….

      No EV-pickup truck is going to displace the good old ICE pickup truck when it comes to REAL work getting done.

      EV-pickup trucks may do well within the capacity envelope of their batteries but then there is that loooooooooooooooong down-time waiting for the truck-battery to get charged back up.

      I brought up the topic of EV-trucks displacing the ICE pickup trucks hauling travel trailers with a few of my Traveling Elks brethren some time ago over breakfast.

      They all snickered. One said, “Cat, you’re p!ss!ng up a rope.”

      I left well-enough alone, understanding that NONE of them would trade their ICE F-series HD or HD RAM for an EV-truck to go the long haul.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        It isn’t even just the recharge time in that realm…It is the frequency as well. If you are on routes without truck stops it is a pain to manuver that big of a load into a gas station even. Maybe we will get there, but even the Supercharger stations aren’t ready for this.

  • avatar
    How_Embarrassing_4You

    LOL. I needed my laugh for the day and pics of that….thing…always do it for me. Thanks!

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    Will Musk finally deliver a fully baked solution or will a whole bunch of these catch fire or crash into other things/vehicles on autopilot? That’s a lot of nose lift with the relatively light weight quad in the back and tailgate down.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Catching fire is not my concern. The insurance claim and who the heck knows how to fix it after any fender bender would be.

      Special alloy so strong you cannot bend it in unibody huh? what can go wrong?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        On a serious note, hopefully from someone who knows more about welding than me, what does it take to weld this sort of metal?

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          pg.4:
          https://www.aksteel.com/sites/default/files/2018-01/301201706_0.pdf

          https://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=960

          “Stainless steel grade 301 is suitable for all forms of standard welding methods. The use of grade 308L as filler metal is recommended. Welded parts in grade 301 must be subjected to annealing in order to attain maximum corrosion resistance. For grades 301L and 301LN annealing is not necessary after welding.”

          (You may want to back purge to prevent sugaring and/or passivate after welding.)

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I don’t think the question is how to weld panels but rather how to attach them. If this is a Delorean-esque body then welding will destroy the “stainless” part of Stainless steel the moment the heat from the TIG welder hits the body. At that point it’s going to rust like normal steel and look nothing like the rest of the body.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      That’s the air suspension at work, presumably.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Thus, the 2020 Mazda CX-30. Logically, this would be the CX-4, but a different vehicle exists in other markets (China, mostly) using that badge”

    How about Mazda CX-3.14159265359?

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Tesla can make all the boastful claims they want about a vehicle they are never going to actually build and deliver… Not this thing, not in this form. Maybe some other truck, some day.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You also predicted that Tesla wouldn’t actually have anything to show at the reveal event. Keep trying.

      However, I do agree that the production vehicle will look a little different, due to meeting Federal regulations – side mirrors, for instance.

      The reservations are for this truck, not the one they didn’t show.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    I laugh every time I hear that someone would consider trying to compare the HD trucks gas or diesel in towing heavy loads cross long distances. I put money down on a cyber truck as we want to have a truck that can tow our 20 foot boat short distances to the lake, go to the ski hill and generally give all the usual benefits of a truck without the need for a second car due to the 16 mpg fuel burn of the typical half ton. We were going to keep our Ram 1500 and drive an EV as a daily driver. This does both. My days of needing to pull a 32 foot fifth wheel are past. Those needing cross country pulling are NOT going to buy electric regardless of it’s a Tesla or Rivian or Workhorse or whatever. The questions regarding the Tesla truck having limited market or appeal is really missing the boat. There are two of us in my close family circle with a deposit down right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “due to the 16 mpg fuel burn of the typical half ton”

      It isn’t 1994 anymore. And I am far from an EV hater as a Leaf owner with a deposit on a Mach E. But I also own a 2015 F150 and I can hit 16 with my 30 foot travel trailer behind it so long as I’m not in the mountains.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        You forgot to add “downhill, with a stiff tailwind.”

        I have to laugh when people quote peak MPG. Average MPG is what matters.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          OK, 25.2 over the life of the truck

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            What I’m getting at here is, it sounds like you hit 16 MPG peak while towing, not an average of 16 MPG while towing. Is that the case?

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Terrain dependent. On a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida from Huntsville I’d average around that. When I pull it up to Cherokee and in the Mountains, I can get down in single digits on some stretches and average way less than 16.

            The OP stated that 16 MPG was normal for pickups. I was simply stating that is crazy and I have to hook 5000 pounds to mine to get that. With no trailer and Load I have never been anywhere near anythingteen and haven’t been since I traded in my Frontier 4.0. It was around 17 in normal driving, which was great at the time since it replaced an 80 Series Land Cruiser that was around 11 on a good day.

            If you are seeing 16 in regular driving in a modern fullsized truck you are goosing it everywhere you go or driving a Tundra.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            So to answer your question, no, that is not the case. Try reading for a change $#!+head

    • 0 avatar
      thx_zetec

      Trucks do many things. Drive 200 lb person around town (most frequent), haul bulky or heavy loads, pull heavy trailers long distances, travel very rough roads. Of all of these it looks like the long-distance-trailer is where EV-trucks can’t compete. There is youtube video where these guys use a model-x to tow a big trailer . . . it absolutely has power and the torque, but they ended up charging 1.5 hours for every 2 hours driving.

      Not all truck owners need to tow long distances as you point out.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The Musketeer faithful are predicting massive unemployment for the Ford/GM/FCA truck plant folks. But ever sympathetic, they want a govt plan to retrain them to install Tesla solar roofs and PowerWalls.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    This is interesting.

    The medium-duty (e.g. F250, F350) market is large and very high margin, and here the big3 have had no new competition (Toyota and Nissan have not entered this space). These vehicles are desired because they a bigger/heavier (perceived value) and have some tax benefits (depreciation of “work” trucks). If your business needs a f150 you might do better with the f250 given better tax treatment. Note that you can use the truck up to 50% personal and still get tax benefit.

    What is the curb weight of the cyber truck going to be? A model-x is a medium-size SUV and weighs ~5200 lb. Add all that battery for 500 mile range and you could be 6500. The good news is that you have regen braking for city economy not as bad as you’d think, but this would cause more expense for tires.

    Will the gross vehicle weight be so high that some states might require different registration?

    How fast will this thing re-charge? The 500 mile truck will have huge amount of battery capacity, easily 2X the model3. Will the supercharger be able to charge at 2X the current? If not you’ll be there 2X longer.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Good comments. I suspect Tesla will have to roll out its v3 high speed charging to a wider area.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        More likely they’ll have to produce something useful in that segment instead of this idiotic fever dream Elon thinks he’s going to be driving around on Mars in a few years

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          I think everyone’s missing the point with this triangle truck. If what Musk says is true, he’s found a way to build it cheap. No stamping, no painting, just laser-score and fold a giant sheet of stainless. Competitors are pricing their electric trucks at or near six figures. He’s pricing this one less than the smallest, cheapest current Tesla.

          Nobody has built a car like this before so nobody knows if it will work. But if it does, you can almost imagine a line of cheap, durable, unpainted origami Teslas as a sub-brand.

          • 0 avatar
            thx_zetec

            We’ll see.

            Yes modern body stamping and paint shops are very capital intensive. But stainless steel is not cheap. If you have to but 1500 lb of steel for 2 bucks more a lb this is 3000 bucks in higher material costs.

            Also part of question is aesthetic. Car makers could use a simple cheaper corrosion protection coating, but customers want cars with ultra smooth, metallic finishes. Will they accept bare stainless? The whole “just rap it” response does not make sense.

            Insurance could be sky high on these things. You have “exoskeleton” (unibody) made of super hard steel and you bend it . . . you can hide any surface imperfection with filler and paint. That was an issue with Delorian cars . . . hard to fix dings.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yeah, and Elon thought he found a way to automate the entire assembly process for the Model 3 and could build them three times as fast that way.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Cybertruck headed for Medium Duty Classification?

    No. To Mars. Haven’t you read about it? The air density on Mars is less than 1% of Earth’s, so you get low drag gar-on-teed. That and the low gravity, only 40% of Earth, gives Cybertruck a thousand mile range, so Musk won’t have to install very many Superchargers there. Two per sealed Tomato and Kale Greenhouse Station, max. Just one double-charger station at each end of the typical Mars “canal” superhighway, and one in the middle on the longer cyberways. Another benefit of that low, low Mars gravity? Payload! Yessir, 10,000 Earth equivalent lbs easy, but towing suffers. You win some, you lose some, but a Ford F250 diesel just won’t work there, so there’s that.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I doubt this thing is rad-hardened, and wouldn’t work for very long in the much higher ambient radiation environment on Mars.

      Mars lacking a magnetosphere makes things a lot more difficult.

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