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Miller: Musk’s Tesla Cybertruck-Ford Challenge May Not End The Way He Wants

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.


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.”

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.

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.

Oops.

Big Orders

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.