Miller: Musk’s Tesla Cybertruck-Ford Challenge May Not End The Way He Wants
Tesla Inc.’s new Cybertruck continued to gain headlines over the week after owner Elon Musk accepted a challenge by Ford Inc. to have a head-to-head battle with a Ford F-150.
In a tug-of-war, of all things.
Sometime next week, possibly, Musk said he would submit one of the new trucks for an “apples-to-apples” battle with an F-150 following an initial video released showing Musk doing just that … kind of.
Cybertruck pulls F-150 uphill pic.twitter.com/OfaqUkrDI3
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2019
But, from the looks of this video, the Cybertruck is doing nothing more than towing the F-150 up the hill.
The F-150 provides some resistance, but only after the Cybertruck starts to pull. That gives the Tesla model a bit more in terms of momentum and immediately puts the Ford at a disadvantage.
A more comparable test would be to have both trucks start to pull forward at the same time, rather than giving one even a split-second advantage.
And, I think Ford recognized that as Sundeep Madra, vice president of Ford X, threw down the challenge to Musk in a tweet after Musk released the “tug-of-war” video.
Musk’s direct reply: “Bring it on.”
Bring it on https://t.co/pCnln1NdRO
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 25, 2019
The Oops Moment
But, much like the celebrated unveiling of the Cybertruck, this could be a path Musk doesn’t want to go down.
During the demonstration of the Cybertruck last week, there was a big “oops” moment for Musk and Tesla.
Chief designer Franz von Holzhausen took a sledgehammer to the truck — which has armored glass — and nothing happened.
It was when von Holzhausen took a metal ball to the driver’s window that everything went wrong.
— Casey Dwyer (@Casey_Dwyer) November 22, 2019
Granted, it was the sledgehammer that started the debacle, but it was the metal ball that finished it.
Of course, it didn’t help that a second ball was thrown at the rear driver’s side window — which had not been previously hammered — and it shattered on contact.
Musk tweeted Sunday that Tesla had received 200,000 pre-orders for the CyberTruck, but that is a little misleading.
Pre-ordering just means someone put down $100 as a fee, which is refundable.
To truly follow through with a purchase, a customer has to go several steps further, and we have no idea just how many have followed those additional steps.
So to say there are 200,000 pre-orders for the Cybertruck — which starts at $39,900 — isn’t accurate and more hype than substance.
But, you see, that is what Musk does.
Selling with a lot of hype — it’s what his entire business model is built around.
The only problem is people can see through that hype — which is why Tesla’s third-quarter earnings showed a staggering 39% drop in U.S. market sales.
Challenging Ford is a big risk for Musk.
Kind of like taking a metal ball to a window after a sledgehammer.
While doing that kind of a challenge in your own backyard is fine because you can rig the test anyway you like — you know, like not letting the opposition start pulling at the same time.
The Ford should be fully loaded and not a base model, as I am sure the Cybertruck Tesla sends won’t be. The weight should be similar by no less than 50 pounds as this plays a huge factor in a tug-of-war of this type, where torque is everything.
The transmissions and engine size should also be the same — we don’t know if that was actually the case in Tesla’s hyped test.
Musk is taking a big risk putting his untested Cybertruck against the tried and true F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than 30 years, and the best-selling truck for more than 40 years.
If it doesn’t work, there’s going to be a lot of $100 pre-order refunds going out.