Elon Musk took a big swipe at Ford during the unveiling of the Cybertruck. Mid-presentation, he played a video of a Cybertruck pulling an F-150 in what was pitched as a head-to-head contest. Many have questioned if it was a fair fight (I don’t think it was)... including Sundeep Madra, VP of Ford X, the automaker’s venture incubator.
Madra tweeted to Elon Musk today, calling for Tesla’s CEO to send Ford a Cybertruck to do an “apples to apples” test.
— sunny madra (@sundeep) November 25, 2019
The test showed by Tesla is questionable on several levels. First, the Cybertruck is dramatically heavier, particularly in the rear-end. The Ford used in the test appears to be in 2-wheel drive mode running on older tires. Without weight on the rear wheels, and the front axle spinning freely, the Ford is at the mercy of the heavier all-wheel drive Cybertruck.
The Ford appears to be a mid-level XLT trim and it’s impossible to identify the engine used. However, the truck lacks the badging used with Ford’s top-of-the-line 3.5L Ecoboost, which seems to indicate the truck sports a lower-end V8 or Ford’s smaller 2.7L Ecoboost. Either way, it’s not a fair fight under the hood.
Other factors are at play, too. The Cybertruck pulls first, increasing the Tesla’s traction and decreasing the Ford’s. (Also, Tesla, when towing a vehicle from a standstill, it’s critical to ensure the slack is removed from the line. It’s dangerous to do otherwise. That line can snap.)
In the end, though these butt-to-butt pull challenges are fun to watch but don't prove much relevant to the real world. A better tow test would involve weighted trailers and conclusions based off of range and weight.
Ford is among a handful of automakers developing an electric pickup that will compete against the Tesla Cybertruck. The F-150 is the automaker’s best selling vehicle and critical to its balance sheet.
The Cybertruck upends decades of truck styling and functionality by taking the unibody form and function to an extreme. The polarizing design has led to countless memes and digs at Tesla, but also over 200,000 in pre-orders in just a few days.
Looks like astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has issues with the physics of the situation, as well.
A badass @Tesla looking like it’s doing a badass thing. But if the @Ford F-150 is RWD **with no payload** then weight on the Rear Axle is greatly reduced, offering only mild traction for the Tesla to overcome. This contest is more about the Physics of Friction than Engine Power.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) November 25, 2019
Update: Elon Musk responded. Hopefully this happens. And then happens again when Ford launches its electric F-150 that recently pulled (not towed) over 1 million pounds.