On Sunday, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk posted a video of the company’s newly launched Cybertruck in a tug-of-war with an F-150 from Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). The F-150 is–and has been for decades– the best-selling vehicle in the United States.
The Cybertruck easily bested the Ford and Ford’s engineers were not amused. In the first place, the F-150 in the contest appears to be a two-wheel-drive model, not an all-wheel-drive vehicle like the Cybertruck and both appear to be unloaded. Sundeep Mehta, vice-president of Ford X, the company’s mobility venture incubator, wants a do-over and Musk has apparently agreed.
Rules for the second round are likely to include loaded trucks and a few other changes to what looks in the Tesla video to be an F-150 straight off the showroom floor: no heavier duty traction tires, for example. The Cybertruck may have been a dual- or even tri-motor model, either of which would have given it a major advantage in a pulling contest.
Here’s the tug of war from Mehta’s Twitter account, along with the challenge to Musk:
— sunny madra (@sundeep) November 25, 2019
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson also weighed in:
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 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
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) November 26, 2019
A tug-of-war is all about traction, and while the Cybertruck may have an advantage in torque, just one brief tire spin would likely be enough to determine which competitor will outpull the other. As Fredric Lambert at electrek.com points out, “These tug-of-wars are all about maintaining traction. The first one to slip is basically done and that’s not just about how much torque you can produce.”
What if Ford were to put its all-electric F-150 up against Tesla’s Cybertruck? That’s the truck Ford showed off in July towing more than 1 million pounds of double-decker railroad cars. If, as expected, the electric F-150 is an all-wheel drive version with dual motors, that would be a more interesting contest.
The second tug-of-war could come as soon as next week according to electrek. Good times.