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Comparing Ford F-150 Lightning To Tesla Cybertruck Shows One Big Advantage For Ford

Ford F-150 Lightning will be on the street and at car dealerships long before the Tesla Cybertruck can be delivered. Both all-electric trucks have significant pre-orders, but Ford is prepared to produce the all-electric version of the F-150.

There’s two resources I refer to regularly as “go to” experts on EVs and pickup trucks. is a tremendous resource for all things related to electrified vehicles. Likewise, my friends at provide great resources, content and knowledge from the truck consumer standpoint.

Be sure to check out their popular YouTube Channel, Pickup Truck + SUV Talk.

Why all the name dropping and accolades for other media outlets? Well, both resources covered the brewing rivalry between Ford and Tesla in their own way and it got me thinking. Tesla is the disruptive force on the automotive industry, with the brazen, bold owner in Elon Musk grabbing all the headlines.

Musk is cool and hip and thumbs his nose at the auto industry. I kind of dig that. He has raised the bar and moved the envelope and all automakers, Ford included, have been impacted by it. That is a good thing and a win for the

Ford has done a great job of reacting to Tesla. They’ll claim they aren’t paying attention to the competition and just doing their own thing. But I don’t believe that.

Recently ran with a leaked document showcasing pricing of the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning. That document, pictured below, showed that the “real” price of the F-150 Lightning increased a lot. As reported, if the price chart is true, it means the F-150 Lightning will be much higher priced than the Tesla Cybertruck.

But is this really true?

Related story: Comparing specs of F-150 Lightning and Tesla Cybertruck.

Leaked pricing chart for 2022 Ford F-150 LightningTesla Cybertruck vs. Ford F-150 Lightning
If I’m being honest, comparing these two EV trucks is silly. There won’t be many Blue Oval fans, let alone F-150 buyers, crossing over to buy the Tesla Cybertruck. But could there be Tesla fans crossing over to buy the F-150 Lightning? Maybe but also unlikely.

My Torque News colleague Marc Stern reported that Ford had hit the 100,000-reservation mark for the Lightning. This requires putting down a $100 refundable deposit. It’s a low-risk proposition, but still is an impressive number for Ford.

Meanwhile, Tesla, not to be outdone, claims they have 1 million reservations for the Cybertruck. This is an absurd number that will not come to fruition. There are three motor variants for the Cybertruck including single motor, dual motor and tri-motor. Of the alleged one million reservations only 7.5% are for the single motor with the remaining orders being for the dual or tri motor. That means those most interested want maximum range (which is understandable).

Related story: Does Ford have a battery advantage over Tesla?

Ford offers all trims of the F-150 Lightning in extended range battery. So when trying to compare prices and release dates you have to take all of that information into account. And frankly it can be quite confusing and overwhelming.

Thus it’s inaccurate and disingenuous to proclaim one more expensive than the other as both EV truck makers will go to their least-expensive truck and tout that number. When in reality, the average truck buyer (both Ford and Tesla) will want more range and will want nicer touches.

As my friend Jill Ciminillo pointed out in her piece at Tesla no longer qualifies for the Federal Tax credit that Ford EV buyers do. That is a difference maker, in my opinion. Thus, Jill extrapolated that an F-150 Lighting XLT (with dual motor which is standard) with AWD after the tax credit came to $53,174. Compare that to the dual-motor Cybertruck which has a price of $49,900 and the two trucks are similarly priced.

It’s more likely that the F-150 Lighting XLT with dual motor will be ready to purchase and drive away before the dual-motor Cybertruck.

Tesla CybertruckF-150 Lightning Production versus Tesla Cybertruck
The term vaporware commonly refers to a program, software or even a hardware that is designed from a concept standpoint, but is not yet ready, with no clear timeframe.

I often call the Cybertruck vaporware. Musk has touted the truck much longer than Ford has touted the Lighting but has yet to release a firm release date for the 1 million orders that are allegedly on the books.

Both Ford and Tesla have committed big dollars to creating new manufacturing facilities devoted to their electric trucks. Tesla’s Giga Factory in Austin, Texas is where the Cybertruck will be built. Meanwhile Ford invested $700 million to create the Rouge Electric factory next door to their historic Rouge manufacturing facility. The Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center will produce the F-150 Lightning and is scheduled to be completed late this year with preparation for the all-electric F-150 coming to market in spring of 2022.

Ford F-150 Lightning reveal

If that holds true, Ford will most assuredly beat Tesla to market on their EV pickup. We reported on a letter sent out to some Cybertruck reservation holders indicating production slated to begin in late 2021. However, with Giga Austin not ready this seems highly unlikely. And, according to that same story here at Torque News, it appears that this production is only for the single-motor version of the Cybertruck, which accounts for a small number reservations and would fall short of the dual-motor production for the F-150 Lightning.

Related story: The F-150 Lightning is not a missed opportunity for Tesla.

Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle CenterFinal conclusion
Rivalry is good. The consumer wins when markets are full of rivalries. That will play out in the EV truck world too. The rivalry between Ford and Tesla seems silly and unnecessary. The Tesla loyalists will stand by the Cybertruck. The Ford loyalists will mock the Cybertruck’s goofy, strange and quirky looks (and for good reason).

In the end, trying to gather rumors and extrapolate information (or misinformation) leads us to wonder which truck will be more popular. That’s impossible to guess.

I get asked a lot about the F-150 Lightning versus the Cybertruck. Which will be better? It is subjective of course. But I usually answer this way: Between Ford and Tesla, which knows how to make trucks and which knows how to churn out internet hype? That’s the difference in the end and the one big difference between the two truck manufacturers. Ford has dominated truck manufacturing for decades and Tesla is still building their first truck manufacturing facility.

Be sure to see part 2 of this discussion where I showcase what a Ford and Tesla collaboration could look like.

Leave me your comments on these two EV trucks. Be sure to check out the follow up story here, where Elon Musk hints that the Cybertruck could be a bust.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.


Dustin Chadwell (not verified)    June 24, 2021 - 6:35PM

You say prices can’t be compared, but they can. Tesla comes stock with all the luxuries they will offer. You will have to get different trim packages for Ford trucks. The dual motor Tesla is the equivalent of the lightning lariat extended range. Which is a 30,000 dollar price difference. Even with tax credits, it’s a big gap.

And a better comparison in who is making the trucks would have been one company knows how to make trucks, one company knows how to make electric vehicles. Both are exploring uncharted territories.

Jimmy Dinsmore    June 25, 2021 - 7:38AM

In reply to by Dustin Chadwell (not verified)

There's no way they come out with the dual motor first. Tesla has basically alluded to the single motor being first out as Giga Austin isn't ready to roll yet and won't be. There will be A LOT of growing pains at that facility. Building cars is one thing, manufacturing trucks is a whole different thing. And as I said, Ford has mastered that for decades and learned how to do so by making doing it. Tesla has yet to make money by actually selling vehicles.

Mike (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 8:50AM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

They have made money selling cars. Tesla has some of the highest margins per car of any manufacturer. They just have been pouring a ton of money into expansion.

Tesla has stated single motor will be last. In fact, I would be surprised if they ever made single motor. They always seem to drop their base models because there just isn’t enough interest.

Mike (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 12:05PM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

Whoever writes that stuff can’t do math. They make profit off the cars. They are spending way more on building out than they normally would be able to because they have those credits. But that’s just a fraction of their revenue. If those went away they could still make a profit just off cars, but they’d have to stop or slow down building new factories, service centers and supercharger locations.

Edward Barbezat (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 6:54PM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

Did you even read that article?

“ Tesla also reports other measures of profitability, as do many other companies. And by those measures, the profits are great enough that they do not depend on the sales of credits to be in the black.”

Speaks for itself - Tesla is CLEARLY PROFITABLE…

Rocwurst (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 11:25AM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

I don’t know where you get the impression the single motor Cybertruck will be out first as that goes against absolutely every bit of evidence. Tesla always, always releases the more expensive models first and then only after they have made plenty of high margin sales do they finally, reluctantly release the cheap low margin models as economies of scale kick in.

In the case of the elusive $35k Model 3, it’s been more of a tease than a vehicle that has ever properly been available.

No, it will definitely be the tri-motor and dual motor first as Elon has said all along.

In terms of manufacture, you forget that Tesla has been manufacturing EVs far longer than Ford and the flat stainless steel panels of the Cybertruck are far cheaper and easier to produce than the expensive presses required to produce the curved panels of the Ford.

Mariano (not verified)    July 30, 2021 - 2:39AM

In reply to by Rocwurst (not verified)

The First Tesla Model S models were not the top of line range models which came later. (Where they never actually built the 40KwH Models S and instead did a software limited 60 variant.) Model S definitely went RWD 1st and then Dual Motor and finally 2021 tri-motor.

Same with Model 3 debuting with LR RWD model 1st. Then LR Dual Motor, then Performance, then short lived Mid-Range, then off-menu Standard Range.(Never making the non-Glass roof and cloth interior 'cheap model's, but they did make a Canadian perma-locked 93/94 mile base Model 3 variant)

Tesla is not the most consistent when it comes to which model debuts. Usually seems to be a mid(common) seller model then they debut performance oriented model. Then fill-in the niche range model trim variants.

With the Cybertruck it may be more of the same or they may lead with Dual Motor variant, because Truck market.

Tesla has pressured the Auto industry as a competitor in an untapped market, rather than cementing themselves as the OEM supplier for 'said' market. This has caused them to have an early lead and yet somehow now also be on the defensive as more automakers make the transition over to BEV.

Clint (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 12:10PM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy I agree that there will be some growing pains in the production ramp in Austin. Tesla is the first successful American startup car company in what… like 100 years? And they are making a truck that totally breaks conventional design. Of course there will be growing pains. They are treading uncharted waters. So growing pains like fit and finish issues I agree with. That’s where Ford has the advantage of making cars for 100 years longer. But that is all “inside the box” stuff. Ford is now having to go “outside the box” with the electric drivetrain. There will be growing pains here for Ford. This is where Tesla is hands down the champ. Other me may catch up in the coming years, but it ain’t now. So the question is this: Tesla gets more miles of range with a smaller battery pack… how is this possible? Efficiency. Thinking outside the box. Vertical integration. Ford will probably have better fit and finish. But if you had your choice between having your fender 1mm off or an inferior drivetrain, you would choose the 1mm panel gap.

massbytes (not verified)    June 26, 2021 - 3:56PM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

Ask Sandy Munroe what he thinks of the engineering behind the Mustang Mac hE and the Model Y. Very poor engineering on Ford's part. And yet you think Ford's experience with vehicle manufacturing is all it is about. It isn't. They missed the boat on EVs in general and are now playing catch up ball by rushing vehicles to market to try and stay up with Tesla. The F150 will be no different.

Brandon Sanders (not verified)    June 24, 2021 - 8:01PM

Lets not forget about the durability of the Cybertruck, its adaptive air suspension w/ 16" of clearance, built in tonnneu cover AND 6.5ft bed versus 5.5ft bed in the Ford.

That's all on top of the better towing, better range and better payload of the Cybertruck. The minimalist interior and features above make the Tesla pretty appealing for someone who actually wants a purely functional work truck... I for one have had a Titan and a Tundra and will get the CT 10x over the Lightning.

Jimmy Dinsmore    June 25, 2021 - 7:37AM

In reply to by Brandon Sanders (not verified)

Good job! You may return to the Giga Factory for your next assignment. I kid (sort of). But if you're only truck experience is with a Titan and Tundra then you aren't really exposed to the top of the food chain. Especially the Titan which is so dated and has never been relevant really.

BRANDON C SANDERS (not verified)    June 26, 2021 - 9:59AM

In reply to by Jimmy Dinsmore

You failed to address the fact that there are many features of the CT that you neglected to consider, to include those I outlined above - they are considerable. Also, you stated in another reply that it will be a while before Tesla produced anything besides the single motor. Tesla has already said they are starting with the tri-motor. This is standard for them - the produced dual motor versions of the Model 3 and Model Y before single motor ones.

Also, the timing of recent reservations suggest many people are interested in the CT that were infact cross shopping. While you can't rely on the sheer number of CT reservations, there was a surge in them right after the Ford was released, which is indicative of people who were waiting to see the Ford before putting a reservation... and many have apparently opted to reserve the CT instead.

I like the Ford and Fords in general, but we need to be fair when comparing the two... but the fact remains that there are significant aspects of the CT you have neglected to discuss that as a result make the Ford appear more advantageous than it is.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 1:36AM

You are making an awful lot of assumptions, and most are in favor of the F150 Lightning. I will be VERY surprised if we see dealers selling many (if ANY) $40K Lightnings in real life. To be fair, Tesla could also drop the base Cybertruck in the 11th hour, as they have done with their entry models in the past. But it is way too early to make any real comparisons. It is pretty funny to say that the Cybertruck is Vaporware, because NOBODY is yet building or selling ANY EV trucks yet. My guess is that the 1st to market will be Rivian, but I believe that the Cybertruck will beat the F150 Lightning to market in early 2022. Ultimately, it truly doesn't matter at all who is first to market. But it will matter when you see your neighbor actually driving an EV pickup truck. Even though most gas powered vehicle owners like to only compare one EV against another EV, ALL EVs REAL competition are the gas and diesel powered vehicles that they will be replacing. 2022 will be a watershed year, where many new EVs will finally be available to buy. Ford, Tesla, and Rivian will sell every single EV that they can build. So we only have to wait and see how well these new EV trucks compare to the established fossil fuel trucks that currently own 100% of today's new truck sales.

Jules (not verified)    June 26, 2021 - 4:41PM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

I have to I have to say they certainly would trust Ford with production dates way over and above with Tesla tells me. Tesla is like Microsoft and windows as well as muscles work how much will they promise things for years and years and years and finally they may come up with beta 1 which for being a public company for many years understands that you can't lie to your stockholders

Mike (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 8:47AM

A couple comments. Both trucks are as much vaporware as the other, since neither are in production. Tesla has never been guilty of vaporware in the traditional sense (they’re not Nikola) though the Roadster and Semi have been delayed a while which will use the same batteries. Also just because giga Austin isn’t finished now means nothing. Look where it was at six months ago compared to today. They could have a portion of it complete before end of year easily.

As far as tax credit, do the math for Ford. They’ll probably hit 200k eligible cars sold by Q4, which means by the time the first Lightning is delivered the tax credit is already down to $3750 and by the time most people start getting them $1875 or $0. Of course that’s assuming a new credit doesn’t pass. If it does, Tesla qualifies as well, and the dual motor Cybertruck would then start at $40k and single at $30k. Though the base likely just won’t be made. They never made the base Model 3 with cloth seats and solid roof and they never made the standard range Model Y and only very briefly made the short range Model S.

Braphie (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 9:44AM

To be fair, you should bring up the charging time for each of the vehicles. It is an afterthought in most articles, but the Cybertruck will charge at least twice as fast and from specs has a smaller battery than the Lightening. The 15-20 minute charge time for the Cybertruck on a class 3 charger vs 45 minutes for the Lightening is huge. I would wager if it was better-known folks that can afford to pay $50-70K for a vehicle don't like to wait around for 45 minutes to fill it up.

Jimmy Dinsmore    June 25, 2021 - 10:30AM

In reply to by Braphie (not verified)

Braphie, I can't argue against your point there. Tesla's charging network and times smoke all the competition. They've been doing it a lot longer so they have that edge. Just as Ford has been making trucks much longer and has that edge over Tesla. I would have loved for Tesla and Ford to team up to build a truly unbelievable EV pickup rather than try to compete. Let Tesla do what they do great and let Ford do what they do great.

Clint (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 9:51AM

Tesla will NOT begin production with the single motor. They will begin with the tri motor (possibly plaid) with over 600 miles of range. And my belief is that first deliveries will begin Q1 2022. Tesla is far beyond legacy auto makers in technology and engineering related to battery, motor, and electric drive train. It’s because Tesla has put all their eggs in this basket over a decade ago while others have fallen asleep at the wheel. Pun intended.

You will see the fruits of this labor as the Cybertruck will knock the socks off the competition in every statistical category. Range, horsepower, efficiency etc. I encourage anyone to buy the stock now.

100,000 orders VS 1,000,000 orders. Can’t be ALL smoke and mirrors.

Jimmy Dinsmore    June 25, 2021 - 10:29AM

In reply to by Clint (not verified)

I will bet you that in the history of the Cybertruck, or at least over the next five years, they don't sell one million of them. That is a fabricated, absurd number that never comes to fruition. And didn't the plaid already get nixed. You drink the Tesla kool aid but Tesla is a company that spins and spins and get people to believe their hype and press. They're great at it. All the other manufacturers could learn from it, which is weird since Tesla actually has a contentious relationship with the media.

RacinJason (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 11:01AM

In reply to by Clint (not verified)

Your right that Tesla always starts with the top profit margin vehicles first. Both trucks will likely start shipping early in 2022. My company is part of the partners building the Gigafactory in Texas. It's moving along well but they are a long way from building anything for customers there. Tesla has a quickly evaporating lead in the EV space. Lucid will likely take that crown of tech and engineering lead when they ship their first cars. When it comes to building trucks and making them right Ford has an incredible lead in engineering and quality over Tesla which matters more than that last kW of efficency when it comes to trucks. Which we know Tesla is still very poor with build quality. (I'm a Tesla owner, so I see it first hand) Ford is doing much better in the EV related engineering space than most thought. Their first generation of long range vehicles are doing quite well. They don't have the efficiency lead but they are really good. CT caters to truck buyers that want to make a stylish statement and will realize that it doesn't do all the things trucks should do. We already know Ford has that nailed down. 100,000 orders vs "1 million" after being announced how long ago doesn't mean anything today. Ford F Series alone still runs laps around all! Telsa sales for good reason. We all expect the Lightning to outsell CT after both get a year in. I expect CT to actually convert about a 1/3 of those orders into real sales and shipments.

Clint (not verified)    June 26, 2021 - 2:59PM

In reply to by RacinJason (not verified)

Jason you said 1/3 of the orders will come to fruition. I think it’s somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. But let’s just use your estimate of 1/3… that’s 333,333.333 (lol) orders. Now let’s assume that Fords 100,000 pre orders ALL come to fruition, which obviously won’t happen. Well… that is still 233,333.33 more Cybertrucks than lightenings. So……. How will Ford sell more lightenings???

I am willing to bet you 5K that over 5 years the Cybertruck will outsell the lightening. ;)

Mike (not verified)    June 25, 2021 - 11:08AM

So...what's the big advantage for F150 here that was alluded to in the title?

That they're not vaporware? That they might beat Tesla to market? Neither of those points has anything to do with which will actually be "better." Maybe it's better for Ford than Tesla, but it has nothing to do with the vehicles.

Better comes down to specs and, on every single traditional metric you would judge a pickup on, Cybertruck crushes the F150. Payload? Bed Length? Towing? Range? Off-road capability? Lockable storage? So, what is the advantage Ford has as a pickup?

Even your argument on price is dubious as the closes thing to a dual motor Cybertruck is the Lariat and not an XLT which very few people will buy and taking the tax credit into account as a "going" advantage of one truck versus another misses the point entirely.

Honestly, I'm a reservation holder of BOTH the Cybertruck AND the Lightning and I still haven't decided which one I want but my reasons aren't really addressed here.

Cybertruck Pro: Capability is unmatched. Range range range range. Knows how to make batteries and shows they have longevity. Unpainted steel body means I can park an expensive vehicle wherever I want and not worry. More experience with self driving.

CT Cons: Generally built like shit with no quality control, materials are not premium, I have yet to comfortably fit into any Tesla model (6'6").

Ford Pro: Spare tire, two-way power. Much MUCH nicer interior with some of the creature comforts I am accustomed to. Instrument cluster.

Fort Con: Not as capable, poor range, battery longevity questionable, will likely move to making their own batteries in a few years. REALLY REALLY heavy. I cannot imagine what the braking distances are going to be and how fast this will blow through tires.

With all that, you'd think I'd get the CT but the "PROS" for Ford happen to be big to me around comfort.

Again though, as a truck, F150 doesn't have anything on the Cybertruck. It's not even close.