Fifty-three years after Ford Motor Co. audaciously challenged Ferrari — and won, as the movie currently playing at theaters depicts — Ford tried goading Tesla Inc. into battle last week. But after Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared to accept, Ford public-relations officials clarified that the company hadn't made a serious invitation.
Ford was irked by a video Tesla made showing its newly revealed Cybertruck overpowering the F-150. Among its grievances: Tesla used an all-wheel-drive version of its own truck but a 4x2 version of the Ford pickup.
Sunny Madra, who heads the Ford X mobility incubator, challenged Musk directly via Twitter, urging him to "send us a Cybertruck and we will do the apples-to-apples test for you."
"Bring it on," Musk responded.
And with that, it looked as if the EV-weight fight of the year was on. Even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson jumped into the fray to explain that Tesla's domination of an F-150 with no payload to weigh down its rear wheels was "more about the physics of friction than engine power."
Alas, Ford's PR department soon threw cold water on the battle royal.
A statement given to numerous news outlets said Madra's comment "was tongue-in-cheek to point out the absurdity of Tesla's video, nothing more."