This week I wrote a “comparison” of the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Tesla Cybertruck. Two trucks that don't exist yet. It got a lot of comments and reactions from the Tesla loyalists and the Blue Oval fans. I did not think what I wrote was that controversial.
However, Tesla loyalists are incredibly passionate and often chime in to vehemently defend Elon and the Tesla brand. Truth be told, I love Tesla vehicles and I would love to interview and hang out with Elon Musk. And Teslas are a blast to drive. I would love to drive a Cybertruck, just for the experience.
The gist of my comparison story between the Lighting and the Cybertruck was this: both Ford and Tesla are really good at what they do. But what Ford does well, Tesla does not and what Tesla does well, Ford is just now beginning to do. So for me, it would have made sense for these two innovative companies to have combined their resources to make one amazing electric truck.
Related story: Comparing the specs of the Lightning and Cybertruck
Areas Where Tesla Could Improve The Ford F-150 Lightning
Directly after the world reveal of the Ford F-150, which was less of a circus and had less showmanship that Elon’s reveal of the Cybertruck back in 2019, I wrote a piece showcasing five things I liked about the Lighting and three things I didn’t.
Looking that over, the biggest letdown for me was that the F-150 Lightning’s range was disappointing when compared to the maximum range of the Cybertruck. All along I wanted and hoped for 500 miles of range. This would allow for towing, which will likely decrease range by 50 percent. So having 500 miles of range, meant 250 miles in range while towing (in theory).
The Lightning has a maximum range of 300 miles and that drops to 150 miles or less when you start towing. Meanwhile, the tri-motor Cybertruck claims it can reach that 500-mile range.
So imagine if Tesla and Ford joined forces and put Tesla’s outstanding battery technology into the Lightning? Imagine if Ford got to that 500-mile range level with ease and could then showcase the Lightning’s impressive torque and towing ability. That would greatly improve one of the biggest knocks against the Lightning.
To be honest, this is the area that Ford needs to improve upon and a collab with Tesla could help. That won’t happen, of course.
The other area is the charging network. Tesla has been making EVs for years and has the charging network infrastructure in place to dominate that. Ford is still playing catchup in that regard and some of the criticisms have been the slow charge times at their networks, especially when you get to the 75% charge range. Ford has done a great job of improving their at-home charging and I expect big advancements in that regard down the road.
Likewise, the nation’s entire EV charging network will have to quickly improve and Tesla won’t be able to dominate this area for long. All manufacturers will have to play in the sandbox together so to speak. But imagine if Ford’s Lightning could also jump onto Tesla’s supercharger network. Wow!
Areas Where Ford Could Make the Cybertruck Better
Tesla has always been an outlier when it comes to the automotive world. They do their own thing. Elon Musk is a rebel and a little quirky. So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when he revealed the Cybertruck.
But if you’re like me you were shocked and thought Musk might be playing a prank when he revealed that goofy looking Cybertruck. That can’t really be it, I thought. It looks like something from Mad Max.
But the Cybertruck with its angular steel panels is the truck that everyone mocks. Perhaps that is an advantage for Tesla – to be different. But if Ford and Tesla were to collaborate imagine how the Ford Design Center and their experienced designers and clay modelers could have made the Cybertruck look better.
It could still break “the rules” and be different, but not look like something drawn by a five-year-old in kindergarten. Sorry, but the Cybertruck just looks ridiculous and I can’t help but assume that Ford’s designers would have made it look much better, while still allowing it to have its own personality.
As such, the Cybertruck won't be a draw amongst the commercial consumer, which is missing a big market of the Lightning.
The Lightning is an F-150 so it had to stay in a similar look but the Cybertruck would not have to stay in that mold. I wonder what it could have looked like with designers from within the auto industry versus.
The other area, as I pointed out in my “controversial” article that Ford excels at that Tesla does not is in manufacturing. The Tesla fans can try to jump to Elon’s defense, but all of his business success has not come from manufacturing. In fact, most everything comes from the tech world.
When Elon started cranking out his Teslas he admitted he had no idea how to make cars and admitted numerous mistakes. Ford has been a leader and innovator in the auto manufacturing for more than a century.
They know how to improve the manufacturing process. They have the workforce and the facilities. Tesla is playing catch up to Ford in this regard.
So manufacturing seems like a no brainer area that Ford could help Tesla in this imaginary collaboration.
Obviously a Ford and Tesla collaboration won’t happen (although in this industry never say never). The one thing that is super annoying is that Tesla fans seem to want to tear down and destroy all of the other auto manufacturers. That is weak and unnecessary. It’s also disrespectful.
Companies like Ford and General Motors paved the way in manufacturing and automotive technology for a multitude of decades. Tesla is the newcomer. That’s what draws fans to them, I get that.
But you can be drawn to Tesla without being disrespectful to the history of the automobile of which Ford plays a monumental role. Tesla would not exist were it not for Ford. But Ford existed long before Tesla. Think about that.
Leave me your comments as the discussions have been mostly good (keep it civil).
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.