It was David versus Goliath. The Ford 150 pickup was pitted against Tesla’s CyberTruck in a fierce test of strength.
When unveiling the new, futuristic Tesla, inspired by the sci-fi movie, Blade Runner, CEO Elon Musk mocked the F-150 (America’s most popular pickup) in a video of the vehicles in a bumper-to-bumper tug-of-war. In what Musk proclaimed was an apples-to-apples showdown, his all-electric truck ferociously overpowered the pickup and appeared to effortlessly drag it uphill as its tires spun uselessly.Read More »
Only 40 percent of the F-150’s weight rests on its back wheels, which dramatically restricts its ability to take off from a complete stop. The Tesla can accelerate with at least three times as much force as the F-150. This disadvantage is magnified, since the F-150 is positioned downhill.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson criticized the Tesla, emphasizing that the competition was a raw deal because the F-150’s bed was empty.
Elon countered with, “Electric motors have insane torque. If we load both trucks to the max, electric still wins. Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation.”
However, Tyson wasn’t going to let Musk off easy. “We all love torque. But high torque just spins a tire in place if there’s not enough weight to provide traction. Fully load the F-150, giving the 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.”
Musk conceded that the playing field would have been leveled if both trucks had been completely loaded for maximum torque.
The Tesla has all-wheel drive, which helps it dig in with all four wheels. It easily weighs 1,000 pounds more than the pickup, and this brawn puts more weight on the wheels, which also contributes to traction. A big part of this duel was who was able to put more force on the ground while moving.
Additionally, the power of Tesla’s electric motor kicks in at zero RPM, while the F-150’s combustion engine’s power is triggered at a higher RPM. Electric motors typically generate loads of power on demand. This gives the F-150 an immediate disadvantage. The F-150’s lightweight aluminum body, which is two times lighter than the Tesla’s stainless steel body, also stacks the deck against it.
There was also grumbling that Tesla set up the rules and didn’t use impartial overseers. For instance, the Tesla got a head start, and no one intervened. Musk was accused of intentionally arranging an unfair match that the F-150 was likely to fail. He’d chosen a simple, rear-wheel drive version of the F-150, with a 325-horsepower V6 instead of a V8, or the turbodiesel V6 chock full of torque.
Or the muscular, electric F-150. You know, the one that towed a freight train.
From Musk’s perspective, the test was fair and proved that his truck was the superior vehicle.
Sunny Madra, Vice President of Ford X, called BS on what he felt was a fiasco. He challenged Musk to a rematch, as long as they could choose the specific F-150 model that would be a contender. “Hey Elon Musk, send us a CyberTruck, and we will do the apples-to-apples test for you,” he tweeted.
Not one to turn down a challenge, Elon simply replied, “Bring it on.” Musk indicated that the rematch would be live-streamed, and that it could be held as soon as the first week of December.
However, on November 26, the F-150’s manufacturer seemingly backed out of the competition. Apparently Madra’s tweet was merely “tongue-in-cheek to point out the absurdity of Tesla’s video, nothing more,” according to a spokesperson. The spokesperson added, “With America’s bestselling truck for 42 years, we’ve always focused on serving our truck customers, regardless of what others say or do.”
Clinging to a glimmer of hope, though, people were still locked into frenzied betting over which truck would reign supreme in a rematch. The gambling website, MyBookie, tallied the F-150 at -120 as of the morning of November 29, while listing the Tesla at +100. You’d have to bet $120 to make $100 if the F-150 won. A $100 bet will garner $100 if its rival triumphed.
Betting will stay open until December 4, but there’s no telling what will happen, since the odds have been fluctuating back and forth.
One thing’s for sure. Both vehicles came out winners. They both got plenty of free advertising!
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