Nov 22nd, 2021, 05:35 PM

Cybertruck vs F-150 Lightning: The Battle for the Most Environmentally-Friendly Truck

By L'Oreal Threat
Image credit: Tom's Guide
How Ford Has Won the Battle Against Tesla for Climate-Friendly Electric Truck, But Has Lost the War for Popularity

Burning fossil fuels to power vehicles goes back more than a century. It was invented in 1885 with Karl Friedrich Benz, who created the first automobile powered by gas and internal combustion engine.  

But when burned, gasoline — a natural fuel source that is formed in earth's geological past from the debris of living organisms — creates dangerous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons. These pollutants contribute to the Greenhouse Effect, a process that occurs when the earth's atmosphere traps the sun's heat, causing the planet to warm up and make life less sustainable. Each year the average gas-powered passenger vehicle releases 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping a dangerous amount of pollution in our planet and contributing to global warming. 

In response, Tesla was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers who aimed to create an electric replacement to gas-powered vehicles that would decrease dependency on fossil fuels. Tesla is currently promoting its new electric truck, aptly called the Cybertruck. Scheduled to be available for deliveries in late 2022, the Cybertruck pollutes 100 times less than the world's most popular pickup truck known as the gas-powered Ford F-150. In fact, if a Cybertruck owner lives in an area with a clean electricity grid, as does an estimated 80% of Canadians, the Cybertruck will only emit one ton of carbon dioxide over the vehicle's lifetime. On the other hand, Ford's gas-powered F-150 Raptor will pollute more than 140 tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. 

Tesla boasts that the Cybertruck is a perfect pick-up truck invention for the global fight against climate-change. Details of the new automotive phenomenon are incredibly attractive. The Cybertruck will include an impenetrable exoskeleton from ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless-steel structural skin, armored glass windows, the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in less than 3 seconds, and hold 500 miles of carbon emission-free range.  

Despite those jaw-dropping, post-apocalyptic features at a time that world leaders are gathering for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, Tesla is not blame-free when it comes to global warming.  In fact, Tesla produces dangerous amounts of fossil fuels through its lithium battery production. By producing lithium, the same power source that goes into devices ranging from cellphones to laptops, Tesla must produce an enormous amount of carbon dioxide to create batteries large enough to power its fleet of Cybertrucks.

Tesla's current mass production of its largest lithium-ion batteries is for its Model 3 sedans in Asia, where 7.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are released each year.  That is equivalent to driving a gas-powered sedan for 2.4 years, at a yearly average distance of 12,000 miles. The Cybertruck, with its ability to have twice as much range as a Model 3, is estimated to contribute at least 17 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions through its battery production. Nevertheless, the Cybertruck, much like the Model 3, will make up for its carbon dioxide emissions after roughly 5.5 years of driving with zero emissions. Moreover, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised that the Cybertruck will last for decades based on its one million mile battery. Specifically, the Cybertruck would last for more than 83 years if driven at a yearly average distance of 12,000 miles. Consequently, the Cybertruck would not only make up for its initial pollution, but also significantly curb climate-change through its limited amount of carbon dioxide emissions during its lifespan.

Ford, which has acknowledged its poor record of pollution when compared to Tesla's Cybertruck,  has developed a competitive challenger through its own electric truck, called the F-150 Lightning. Set to be available for deliveries in early 2022, the F-150 Lightning's lithium-ion battery technology uses rare metal and novel chemistry for environmental considerations.  The new battery that is specifically used for the F-150 Lightning uses 90 percent nickel, and just 5 percent each of manganese and cobalt. The high concentration of nickel content helps deliver great energy density while the low cobalt content reduces the environmental and ethical problems involved with pollution inherent in cobalt mining.  As a result of less pollution released through battery production in comparison to the Cybertruck, the F-150 Lightning reigns superior when considering climate change.

Moreover, the F-150 Lightning features tasks that the Cybertruck is not built, or at least not advertised, to be capable of accomplishing. For example, the Lightning F-150 will be able to automatically power homes like a generator, providing full home power of up to ten days if power is rationed. The F-150 Lightning will also have enough storage under its hood to feature four 120V outlets, one USB-C outlet, and one USB-A outlet; which means that everything from power tools, laptops, TVs, to microwaves can be operated from the vehicle.

As far as its design, the F-150 Lightning is nearly identical to its gas-powered F-150 siblings.  This is a shrewd move for Ford, considering that the F-150 series has been the best selling truck on the planet for decades. However, the interior of the F-150 can be regarded as old fashioned and cluttered with its multitude of buttons and air vents scattered across the steering console and cabin.  On the other hand, the Cybertruck's exterior and interior resembles a futuristic spaceship with its cutting-edge angles and clean simplicity.  

Cybertruck's interior goes further with its vegan leather seats, essentially button-less steering console, and 17-inch monitor display where Google-Earth navigation, Netflix, web browsing, and more can be accessed. Also, one distinctive software feature that the Cybertruck benefits from, like all Tesla vehicles, is the free over-the-air software updates that add new features and functionality such as full-self driving improvement and HEPA air quality control. In comparison, the F-150 Lightning does not offer free software updates or full-self driving.

Ultimately, the F-150 Lightning beats the Cybertruck fair and square when it comes to pollution released that causes global warming. However, to be the most attractive electric truck, the F-150 Lightning must surprise and seduce its targeted audience. In the case for the United States, most electric car purchasers are relatively wealthy, environmentally conscious, and live on the American coast as opposed to middle-America where Ford F-150s gains its largest portion of sales. In middle-America, the Ford-150 is popular because of its roaring noise and sense of horse-power gained from its gas-fueled engine. The engine under the hood presents many Ford F-150 owners with a heightened sense of American tradition, rugged masculinity, and power.  

As such, it will be hard for Ford to try to convince its traditional F-150 lovers to abandon their gas-powered prize for an electric copy that panders to the delights of rich liberals on the coast. The Cybertruck will indubitably have the same struggle. Nevertheless, as more and more gas-powered vehicle owners turn to the most popular electric car company in Tesla, the war will rage on for competitors like Ford who will attempt to compete in the electric vehicle realm but ultimately fail for lack of attractive design and technology. Even if Tesla is losing the battle for the most green, environmentally-friendly electric truck.