Ford F-150 Lightning vs Tesla Cybertruck—a side-by-side comparison
Several electric pickup trucks are slated to hit the market later this year, but the two models everyone’s talking about are Ford’s F-150 Lightning and Tesla’s Cybertruck. They’re pretty different vehicles, to say the least, and there are plenty of point-by-point comparisons coming out. In a recent recap, I discussed the different design aesthetics of the two trucks, and the conventional wisdom that they will appeal to two different sets of buyers.
Now CNET’s Roadshow has weighed in with a video that focuses more on the announced specs of the two contenders. This ends up being something of an apples-to-oranges scenario, because Ford has released some pretty detailed specs, whereas Tesla has been more vague. (CNET’s narrator, like much of the media, is extremely indignant about Tesla’s lack of a PR department, and makes her opinion known with a succession of snarky comments.)
Both models will have different battery options. The Ford F-150 Lightning comes with two motors, and with the largest battery option, the expected range is 300 miles. The top-trim Tesla Cybertruck ups the ante with three motors and a range of up to 500 miles.
Drivers who are considering going electric always want to know how long it takes to charge, and most automakers are happy to quote estimates—with an asterisk and a bunch of fine print at the bottom, of course. CNET notes that Ford has offered pretty detailed information about estimated charging times, whereas for Tesla, they have to form an estimate based on the specs of existing models.
Comparing charging times, especially for two vehicles that aren’t even on the road yet, is probably pretty pointless anyway. There are just too many variables that affect charging rates, and that’s why, in my writings, I generally don’t even mention automakers’ estimated charging times. Charging time is something prospective EV buyers care a lot about, but current EV owners seldom think about. At home, it takes overnight. On the road, it takes a sandwich and a cup of coffee—two cups if your battery’s really low.
When it comes to power and torque, Ford says the F-150 will deliver 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. Tesla hasn’t given any firm figures for Cybertruck, but CNET estimates about 800 hp and 1,000 lb-ft.
What about acceleration, that all-important parameter for a pickup truck? In this department, you can count on Tesla to be very specific, down to the nanosecond. The Ford is expected to do 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, the Tesla in 2.9.
Above: CNET's Roadshow pits the forthcoming Ford F-150 Lightning against the much-anticipated Tesla Cybertruck (YouTube: Roadshow)
The F-150 Lightning is pretty close in size to the legacy F-150. In overall length and width, Cybertruck differs from the F-150 by only an inch or two. The Ford is about four inches taller. (Elon has said that the dimensions of the production version may be different from those of the prototypes we’ve seen.)
Judging by the announced specs, Cybertruck looks more off-road-capable. There’s a big difference in ground clearance: 9 inches for the Ford, up to 16 inches for the Tesla with the optional air suspension. Cybertruck also sports wider approach and departure angles.
When it’s time to haul something (other than ass), Cybertruck claims more capacity: 3,500 pounds of payload, compared to the F-150’s 1,800 pounds; and 14,000 pounds of towing capacity, compared to 10,000 pounds. How much will towing decrease range? Neither automaker has said, and it probably depends on multiple factors. Pickup experts have noted that a fossil vehicle can see a gas-mileage hit of up to 50% when towing a large trailer.
What’s the bottom line? Ford says the base F-150 Lightning will start at $39,974, plus a destination charge. If you opt for the Extended Range battery and all the goodies, you can pay as much as 90 grand. Tesla’s starting price is about the same—$39,900 for the Single Motor RWD version, $49,900 for the Dual Motor AWD, and $69,900 for the Tri Motor AWD. Add another $10,000 for the Full Self-Driving package.
As CNET (among others) notes, Tesla’s prices are never set in stone, and the company tends to produce higher-margin, option-loaded versions first (most automakers do, for a new model), so you probably won’t get a Cybertruck delivered for $39,900 any time soon.
Which truck wins the smackdown? Look at the specs and decide for yourself—or if you’re the patient sort, wait until you can test-drive both before parting with your forty grand. Both electric pickups should be available less than a year from now, and one thing’s for certain—the automotive world will never be the same.