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The Cybertruck vs. F-150 comparison isn’t fair, Tesla tells California officials

When video footage of a Tesla Cybertruck vs. Ford F-150 tug-of-war surfaced online, many argued the fight wasn’t fair because the California-based electric car company tied a relatively basic, rear-wheel drive variant of America’s best-selling vehicle to its first pickup. One of Tesla’s top executives indirectly admitted the two aren’t even in the same segment.

“While we have not yet begun production of the Cybertruck, we expect it to have a towing capacity of 7,500 to 14,000-plus pounds, and it should very likely qualify as a Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle,” explained Tesla senior managing policy advisor Sarah Van Cleve in a letter written to California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) and obtained by Automotive News.

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The publication pointed out trucks that fall into the Class 2B category have a gross vehicle weight rating (a vehicle’s maximum operating weight) of between 8,501 and 10,000 pounds. That’s a level above the F-150, which is a Class 2a model; it’s where you’ll find bigger models like the F-250, the Ram 2500, and the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500 twins.

Put in this light, Tesla’s repeated claims that the Cybertruck will blow the F-150 right out of the water become irrelevant, inaccurate, and borderline misleading. And, the truck looks far less capable when it’s compared to the F-250. The 2020 model boasts a maximum payload of 4,260 pounds, and it can tow up to 22,800 pounds when properly equipped. The Cybertruck’s figures check in at 3,500 and 14,000, respectively. Its $39,000 base price makes it more expensive than the F-250, which starts at $33,705 and is widely available nationwide.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said he’s open to the idea of making a second, smaller pickup. “Long term, it probably makes sense to build a smaller Cybertruck,” he wrote on Twitter shortly after the model’s unveiling. The more compact model might land in the same segment as the F-150, or it could move down further into Ranger territory.

Ford is developing an electric version of the next-generation F-150 due out in 2020, but odds are it won’t compete in the same category as the Cybertruck, though we won’t know for sure until it makes its debut. It ultimately might depend on the weight of the battery pack it uses. And, at the other end of the spectrum, Bollinger’s B2 is considered a Class 3 truck, so it will be positioned a segment above the Cybertruck, where Chevrolet’s Silverado 3500, Ram’s 3500, and Ford’s F-350 currently reign supreme.

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2021 Tesla Cybertruck vs. 2021 Ford F-150

Tesla strongly hinted the Cybertruck won't compete in the same segment of the market as the popular Ford F-150, and whether they'll appeal to the same target audience remains to be seen, but the two pickups will inevitably overlap in many areas. Both were designed to tow, haul, venture off the beaten path, and commute.

Keep in mind Tesla won't begin building the Cybertruck until 2021 at the earliest. You can't walk to the nearest Tesla store and take one for a test drive because it's not in production; we haven't even seen the production version of it yet. The comparison with the F-150 is largely hypothetical, and all specs listed here are subject to change.
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