When Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s much anticipated Cybertruck Thursday, he showed a video of the all-electric truck winning a tug-of-war against a Ford F-150 in spectacular fashion. As Ford’s bestselling pickup was dragged backwards, its wheels spinning, Musk pointed out that the Cybertruck was pulling the Ford uphill.
Musk tweeted out that same video Monday and a Ford executive responded by challenging Tesla to a real “apples to apples” truck test. Elon Musk, in turn, responded “bring it on.” But it’s far from clear that this is a fight Ford actually wants.
Let’s back up a moment to look more closely at what happened here.
After Musk tweeted the truck battle video, a writer for the car blog Motor1 pointed out that the F-150 Tesla (TSLA)’s Cybertruck was pulling was apparently a rear-wheel drive truck – only the Ford’s back wheels can be seen spinning – and that, alone, made it an unevenly matched fight. The Cybertruck prototype was all-wheel drive and that would give it an advantage because it could pull with all four of its wheels.
The Motor1 post also noted that, from looking at the features on the Ford pickup, it probably had Ford’s turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine, far from the strongest engine to be had in an F-Series truck. (Tesla has not said what sort of F-150 it chose for this fight.)
Then there’s the weight. The Cybertruck, with its heavy battery packs, almost certainly weighed much more than the Ford and, in a towing battle like this, weight confers advantages. Being heavy would make the Cybertruck harder for the Ford to pull while also giving the Cybertruck itself better traction on the road.
Sundeep Madra, a Ford vice president in charge of Ford X, a technology incubator within Ford, tweeted a link to the Motor1 post.
“[H]ey @elonmusk send us a cybertruck and we will do the apples to apples test for you,” he wrote, followed by a row of winking emojis.
That was when Musk replied, simply, “Bring it on.”
It is far from clear, though, that Ford will be bringing on anything.
When asked for an official response to the challenge, a Ford (F) spokesperson wrote in a text message, “We are proud that truck customers have made F-Series America’s best-selling truck for 42 years.” The spokesperson went on to mention Ford (F)’s 100 years of truck experience and ended with “…we look forward to the introduction of our all-new F-150 hybrid coming next year and all-electric F-150 in a few years.”
No mention was made of the Tesla Cybertruck or any tug-of-war challenge.