Likely Medium-Duty Tesla Cybertruck Classification Makes Elon Musk's Ford F-150 Challenge Pointless

The Tesla Cybertruck may not stack up against Ford, millions more Takata airbags could get recalled, BMW finally gets Android Auto, and more, more, more in The Morning Shift for Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.


1st: Cybertruck Needs More Truck

Turns out there may be more issues with the rivalry between the Tesla Cybertruck and the Ford F-150 that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been pushing ever since he announced his kindergarten science project of a pickup truck—the trucks likely won’t even compete in the same class, according to themselves.

Tesla reported to the California Air and Resources Board that the Cybertruck is expected to receive a medium-duty classification, putting it up against bigger trucks like the Ford F-250, Ram 2500, etc.—not the Ford F-150.

Here’s Automotive News with the polite approach to how goofy this all is:

The Tesla pickup’s classification raises further questions about a stunt video the automaker posted after the Cybertruck’s reveal in which the Tesla pickup drug an F-150 uphill in a tug-of-war contest. The video drew scrutiny from observers who noted it was not an apples-to-apples comparison between the heavier, all-wheel-drive Cybertruck and what appeared to be a base, two-wheel drive F-150.


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., while the diesel variant has a maximum payload of 3,940 lbs. and maximum towing of 22,800 lbs. Both figures beat the Cybertruck’s expected payload of up to 3,500 lbs. and towing capacity of more than 14,000 pounds. The 2020 F-250, which Ford recently freshened, is on sale now.


I don’t think Elon Musk is unaware of U.S. vehicle class designations, so going after the F-150 is likely more of a clever if misleading marketing stunt to generate hype around a competitor for America’s favorite pickup, which, oh no, who would ever expect misleading marketing from this guy?

2nd: Trump Avoids Tariff Increase With China With Another Stopgap

The President has approved a stopgap trade agreement in the ongoing negotiations to alter the deal between the U.S. and China, avoiding an increase in tariffs on both sides and buying more time for the greater deal to fall into place, eventually.


Here’s the gist of it from The Washington Post:

At a White House meeting with his top trade advisers, the president signed off on a swap of U.S. tariff reductions in return for China spending $50 billion on U.S. farm goods, tightening its intellectual property protections and opening its financial services markets, according to Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute, who says the president briefed him on the deal Thursday.


The limited accord caps a roller-coaster negotiation that brought the two countries to the brink of success more than once this year, only to see talks stall. Diplomats from the world’s two largest economies have been working against a Sunday deadline, when new U.S. tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods were scheduled to take effect.

That increase now will not go forward and existing tariffs on $360 billion in Chinese imports will be reduced, according to Pillsbury and others familiar with the arrangement. The deal includes provisions that will penalize the Chinese government if it fails to place the required agricultural orders.


Still, a so-called “phase one” agreement would leave the thorniest issues in the U.S.-China trade dispute to future negotiations, which are scheduled to begin next year. China’s massive subsidies for state enterprises and its practice of forcing foreign companies to surrender technology secrets in return for access to the Chinese market will be the subject of “phase two” of the talks.


Just a couple of weeks ago, Trump was bragging that he may stretch the trade deal to beyond the 2020 presidential election, which would be annoying. Hopefully, this small deal gets the momentum rolling.

3rd: Another 100 Million Airbags Could Get Recalled

Takata, like a sun going supernova, continues its quest to consume seemingly every airbag on any modern car, as the bankrupt company and regulators prepare for a Dec. 31 deadline that will determine if over 100 million more airbags get recalled.


From Bloomberg:

The manufacturing entity left after the supplier’s implosion faces a Dec. 31 deadline to show the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that as many as 100 million inflators containing a chemical drying agent will be safe long-term.


If the supplier can’t demonstrate the safety or durability of newer desiccant-equipped inflators, the U.S. agency may order that they be recalled as well. The total bill for another massive recall could reach tens of billions of dollars, with carmakers bearing the brunt of the costs.

“NHTSA is carefully reviewing information regarding the safety of desiccated inflators to determine appropriate next steps,” the agency said. It typically takes the NHSTA as long as 6 to 12 months to issue an official recall after it collects enough data.


When they’re done with Takata, I know quite a few “airbags” I’d like someone to recall, if you know what I mean.

4th: BMW Finally Getting Around To Android Auto

After BMW was pressured to reverse ruthlessly charging an annual fee for use of CarPlay when automakers like Hyundai include it as a standard feature, the pressure shifted to when, if ever, the German luxury automaker would get around to offering Android Auto.


Here’s more from Autoblog:

Starting in July 2020, every BMW equipped with the Operating System 7.0 software released in 2018 and Live Cockpit will be compatible with wireless Android Auto, so users will not need to plug their phone into a USB port. The Munich-based automaker is late to Google’s in-car connectivity party, but it made up for lost time by fully integrating Android Auto into its digital ecosystem.


This will be a nice win for the crowd who try to convince you their smartphone camera is better than your iPhone’s, even if the pictures they take are clearly much, much worse. Sounds like it’d be a big chunk of BMW’s market, I don’t know.

5th: Electrify America To Electrify Fisker Ocean

The Fisker Ocean, definitely a real electric crossover that will totally make it to production by the end of 2021 from the guy who brought you the Fisker Karma, which is now the Karma Revero and wants nothing to do with Fisker, gets a promising deal with Electrify America for charging infrastructure.


Here’s the meat, potatoes, and lots and lots of gravy on the deal from Electrify America:

  • Fisker Ocean vehicles will be automatically recognized by Electrify America’s charging stations – allowing for simple charging, automatic release and automatic payments. Fisker will offer a free miles package with each vehicle, allowing for a certain amount of complimentary charging. Additional details on charging packages will be shared later in 2020.
  • Electrify America expects to install, or have under development, approximately 800 total charging station sites with about 3,500 chargers by December 2021. During this period, the company will be expanding to 29 metros and 45 states, including two cross-country routes, delivering on its commitment to support increased Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) adoption with a network that is comprehensive, technologically advanced and customer friendly.
  • The Fisker Ocean features a CCS Type 2 Combo plug – enabling the vehicle to be charged through any stations that leverage technology in line with the latest in international standards.
  • The vehicle is equipped with a state-of-the-art battery – with 80 kWh capacity and a range of up to 300 miles (depending on driving conditions).
  • More than 200 miles of range can be delivered from 30 minutes of charging for the Fisker Ocean (15% capacity to 80% capacity). Electrify America’s 350 kW chargers can charge capable vehicles up to 20 miles per minute.

Can you imagine how much microplastic is in this Ocean? Too soon? Not funny? I’m sorry, everyone. Sorry, Al Gore. Oh hey, speaking of...

Reverse: Global Warming Guy, Everybody Else, Loses


Neutral: Do You Like Tesla’s Marketing Hype?

Look, if you take anything Elon Musk says on his fancy Tesla stage at face value anymore, I’ve got a fully-autonomous, biohazard-proof truck with 500 miles of range and bulletproof windows that can definitely take a hit from a steel ball to sell you for under $50,000.


Otherwise, it’s pretty clear by now that Musk is way too comfortable claiming he’s selling vehicles with (eventual) full self-driving capability, which he is not, or claiming the Model 3 will be super affordable and priced at $35,000, which the company has since actively fought to avoid selling to anybody by guarding it behind making people go in person or call, which nobody does anymore.

And now he’s pitting the Cybertruck up against a truck from the wrong segment, like a bully. I think Ford will be fine, to be clear, but are Musk’s exaggerations just annoying, or a much bigger problem that should be addressed?


Shane Morris

Im currently back in rural Middle Tennessee on a work thing, and one of my clients brought up the CYBERTRUCK. He currently owns a Nissan Diesel pickup, as he is a Nissan employee here at their headquarters.

If anyone would have some insight about the CYBERTRUCK, it’s a guy who works in a market where competing with the F-150 is literally his job, since... well... I think we all know the Nissan Titan is in no danger of overtaking Ford in truck sales.

The way he put it, I think it makes sense. The CYBERTRUCK is for people who were not going to buy a truck anyway. It’s for Tesla customers to upgrade into from their Model S. It’s for the guy who was considering a BMW X5, but might want something really edgy. It’s for tech bros who are “totally thinking about shredding some gnar up in South Lake this weekend, you wanna go, bro”.

This isn’t a truck for Dave the plumber, or Jim the fence guy. Those guys know their friends would mock them mercilessly if they pulled up to a tailgate party in Athens or Knoxville, driving an electric equilateral triangle.

Elon can market it however he likes. It’s a “truck” in the sense that if an elephant was born in a tree, you’d call it a bird.