EV Truck War: F-150 Lightning vs. Tesla Cybertruck

Ben Guess
Updated on Jun 27, 2022 · 5 min read
Talk about not staying in your lane.
The Ford F-150, America’s workhorse and best-selling vehicle for decades, goes all-electric with the Lightning. While Tesla, America’s most iconic maker of electric vehicles, applies its experience at innovation and sleek design aesthetics to the Cybertruck, its first truck and one meant to challenge the F-150’s dominance. 
It’s sure to prove a fascinating competition. While we’re not ready to predict how America’s truck buyers will respond, Jerry did look at the nuts and bolts of both vehicles to see how they measured up where it counts.
We found that while the Cybertruck offered better options for torque, payload, seating, towing capacity, and range, the F-150 Lightning had the lowest price for the top-end model while still offering plenty of bang for your buck with the base model

Juicing Options for the Lightning and Cybertruck 

The Cybertruck and Lightning charge up at similar speeds at charging stations and at home. On a DC fast charger — the type you find at charging stations — the Lightning will go from 15% to 80% in about 41 minutes, while the Cybertruck goes from 10% to 80% in about 44 minutes.
However, on a 120-volt charger (the kind you’d find in your garage), the Lightning only gains 2-3 miles of range per hour. The Cybertruck doesn’t do much better, gaining about 4 miles an hour.
To counter the slower charge on a typical home outlet, Ford includes a mobile charger that adds about 14 miles per hour when used with the NEMA 14-50, a 240-volt socket intended for higher-power devices. Keep in mind, though, that the Lightning will need to be connected to a 50-amp circuit to use the adapter, and that there will need to be a specific plug installed for the adapter. Tesla offers a wall connector to speed up charging times, and recommends the NEMA 14-50 as an alternative, but doesn’t include either with the vehicle.

The Best Value May Depend on How Much You Spend

Buyers looking for the best options, regardless of price, may prefer the maxed-out Cybertruck, which beat the highest-end Lightning in six key categories. However, more budget-conscious drivers may prefer the base model Lightning, which offers more horsepower and torque than that of the similarly priced Cybertruck.
Ford also claims that the Lightning Pro can reduce scheduled maintenance costs by 40% over eight years and 100,000 miles compared to a gas-powered F-150. While the numbers for maintaining a Cybertruck aren’t out yet, Jalopnik reports that the average Tesla costs $832 per year to maintain. This is nearly $200 more than the national average across all cars and models, indicating that the Cybertruck could be more expensive to maintain than the Lightning.
A 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning driving down a road at night.

Introducing the ‘Frunk’ and the ‘Vault’ 

Of course, this battle won’t just be about range, horsepower, and payload. Looks and other features matter too and these two trucks would never be mistaken for each other at a distance.
The Cybertruck looks more like a moon rover or a bulked-up DeLorean than a traditional pickup truck. Tesla claims its stainless steel exoskeleton will provide superior protection for passengers and cargo. But will America’s truck buyers take to it? 
Tesla will also offer the choice of one, two, or three motors, with price points and performance shifting accordingly. The cargo bed — dubbed “the vault” — will include a slide-out tailgate that can serve as an on-ramp for motorcycles, four-wheelers, or cargo dollies. 
The Lightning has its own design innovations. It comes with two electric motors — one for each axle — and an all-new frame that Ford says is the strongest ever put in its F-150. And then there’s the “frunk”. The placement of the new motors opened up what used to be the engine bay, offering additional covered cargo space.

The Lightning Offers a Built-In Generator

The Lightning can also serve as a generator. When fully charged, the extended-range battery can be used to fully power a home for up to three days. And built-in electrical outlets can power any sort of tool or appliance when away from home or other sources of electricity. 
Using a Tesla as a generator, on the other hand, can damage the electric powertrain — not to mention cost you up to $10,000 in electricity bills. If it comes to a question of which car you’d rather have in a power outage, the Lightning is the clear choice. But the Cybertruck might still find a home among buyers looking for a futuristic look, better range, towing capacity, and payload.

Ready to Run? You’ll Have to Get In Line

Unfortunately, it’ll be a while before any new buyers can get behind the wheel of either model. The Lightning has already sold out for 2022, although some trucks might be available on dealer lots at a markup. The Cybertruck won’t come out until 2023 but it already reportedly had over 1 million people on its waiting list as of a year ago. However, the waiting list for the 2023 Lightning may open this summer, and the Cybertruck is still taking orders — so 2023 may be a better year for any new would-be buyers.

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