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The Tesla Cybertruck Sled Pull Is Impressive Even if It Doesn’t Prove Much

Like when Toyota pulled a space shuttle with the Tundra, this is marketing. Still, though, it's pretty impressive.
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Truck makers love showing off. That’s just as true of Ford as it is of Chevy, Ram, Toyota, and so on. It’s not remotely surprising that Tesla is included in that camp now that it’s finally producing the Cybertruck. To prove the power of its electric pickup, it entered the stainless steel rig in a blue-collar sled pull contest. But what does that actually prove?

It’s important to say straight away that the Tesla beat everything else in the film the automaker presented, and it wasn’t close. The Ford F-150 Lightning dragged the 20-ton sled 207 feet, while the Rivian R1T managed to go 257 feet. Even the mighty Ford Super Duty diesel started spinning in place at 263 feet. The Cybertruck apparently didn’t quit until the 318-feet mark.

Sled pullers won’t like to admit it, but electric trucks are perfectly suited for this, at least for a run or two. They make peak torque instantly, and more importantly, it’s constant. The fact that the Super Duty has to shift at all puts it at a disadvantage. It means every time the power stops flowing, the truck loses ground. It doesn’t matter that the 6.7-liter Power Stroke makes 1,050 lb-ft of torque when it has a 10-speed transmission.

The thing is, electric trucks can only do this level of work so many times before they need recharging. It takes a lot of fuel for internal combustion engines too, of course, but they can fill up in a jiffy. That’s important to remember in all of this.

It’s a lot like when Toyota pulled a space shuttle with the Tundra, or when Ford pulled a train with an electric F-150 prototype. Folks will probably never use their Cybertruck this way—it’s just cool knowing they could if they wanted to, for some reason. Tesla’s video says it right there in plain English; the pickup’s max tow capacity is 11,000 pounds. A stunt like this doesn’t mean Cybertruck owners can hitch up to whatever they want and move it down the road.

Additionally, there’s a lot we don’t know about the test. What drive modes were the other trucks set to? What tires did they wear? Tesla could have arranged everything to the Cybertruck’s advantage—it wouldn’t be the first time—but it’s not like other OEMs would never do the same if it were their video. That said, we actually have seen the F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T hook up to a 17-ton sled in the past when Edmunds performed a similar test. The results from that lined up closely with Tesla’s here, for what it’s worth.

All in all, this was a marketing trick, and it’s fair to say it worked. The Cybertruck pulled it off, no matter what the circumstances were, and what once seemed like total vaporware is proving to be pretty competitive—at least for a pull or two.

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