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Turns Out The Tesla Truck Isn’t Picking On Something Its Own Size

Tesla Cybertruck
Image via Tesla

The Tesla Cybertruck, as we pointed out, is a joke. A certain Astrophysicist also pointed out that it’s a liar. Turns out, it’s also fat. At least – it has no business comparing itself to the Ford F-150.

California’s patron saint, God Emperor Musk, once claimed that the Tesla Cybertruck would be “better” than the Ford F-150. Better how? Unspecified. But if we’re going to go by capabilities, what needs to be understood is that vehicles in this country (cue Jack Nicholson’s character meeting with Triads in The Departed) are classified by a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

A GVWR marks the absolute maximum a vehicle can weigh, comprising a vehicle’s weight plus whatever it is carrying. And according to a letter from Tesla sent to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), The Tesla Cybertruck is better than the F-150 in the same ways that the F-250 is better than its smaller stablemate. Meaning that it’s rated to tow more, haul more, and is otherwise going to be heavy.

Tesla Cybertruck
Pictured: Californians not picking on somebody their own size.

“While we have not yet begun production of the Cybertruck, we expect it to have a towing capacity of 7,500-14,000+ lbs., and it should very likely qualify as a ‘Class 2B-3 medium-duty vehicle,'” Sarah Van Cleve, Tesla’s senior managing policy advisor, wrote in a Dec. 9 letter to CARB. Automotive News provided the initial report. The weight ceiling for Class 2a, the class of the cash-cow Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500 is 8,500 pounds.

What the letter is saying is that the Tesla Cybertruck will be somewhere in Class 2b, or Class 3. Not “2B-3,” in case that needed clarification.Along with the F-250, examples of Class 2b trucks are the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, GMC Sierra 2500, Ram 2500, and Nissan Titan XD. A Class 3 truck allows for even more extreme GVWR, and some of these trucks are the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 3500 HD, Ford F-350, and Ram 3500. All of these work horses can all tow in excess of 30,000 pounds depending on the configuration, and can hold at least 4,500 pounds in the bed.

If that’s all that matters, then all of these larger, heavier, more powerful trucks are then “better” than an F-150.

A class 3 truck.


Let’s just go with the Class 2b Ford F-250, for the sake of argument, against the Tesla Cybertruck. The gasoline version of the 2020 F-250 has a maximum payload of 4,260 lbs, and a maximum tow rating of 19,500 lbs. This pickup truck, which starts at $33,705 and is on sale today, easily beats out the Cybertruck’s expected payload of up to 3,500 lbs. and towing capacity of more than 14,000 pounds. And that’s not even accounting for the diesel version, which has a maximum payload of 3,940 lbs and maximum towing of 22,800 lbs.

The Tesla Cybertruck probably goes over the 8,500-pound Class 2a ceiling not just because of its payload, which is a claimed 3,500 pounds for the base model, but because battery electric vehicles tend to be heavier than an equivalent ICE-powered vehicle (that thick stainless steel body probably doesn’t help much, either). Batteries may be more “efficient” than engines, but they also have far less power density. Which means no matter how you slice it, you need to pack a lot more heavy batteries in to get even close to equal performance of a ICE vehicle.

Additionally, Class 2B medium-duty vehicles and above don’t get an EPA fuel economy rating. Meaning that Tesla probably wouldn’t have to have an official EPA range and electricity usage rating. Smooth!

While everybody is fixated on the Cybertruck, Tesla is supposed to deliver on the following promises for 2020: a new Roadster, a semi truck, the Model Y, and an autonomous vehicle network.

Anybody want to place bets that all of these things will be “delayed”?

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.


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