Electric pickup showdown: Tesla Cybertruck vs. Ford F150 Lightning

Michael Mace | April 28, 2022
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closeup of pickup tire

 As the electric vehicle (EV) market grows, car companies are jockeying to get customer attention for their upcoming EVs. One prominent faceoff is between Ford’s F150 Lightning pickup truck and Tesla’s Cybertruck. 

To learn more about how consumers felt about the two EV trucks, UserTesting asked pickup truck owners to evaluate the websites of both the Lightning and Cybertruck. 

Here’s what we learned about truck buyers—and about the process of rolling out a disruptive new product. The main lesson? Sometimes too much innovation can be as bad as too little—and that can apply to any company trying to blaze a new path, not just EVs.

Watch truck owners respond to the Ford and Tesla EV trucks

Familiarity helps 

Truck buyers are, first and foremost, truck buyers. They have strong expectations for the styling and features of a truck, and the Ford offering was heavily preferred because it looks and was described more like a traditional truck. The Cybertruck attracted comments like “right off the bat, I am turned off by the style” and “it feels like it’s trying way too hard to be cool.”

Details matter

The Ford website had many more details on the product, and that helped participants get comfortable with the idea of buying it. The Cybertruck website was more focused on vision and goals, and participants had trouble picturing what it would be like to own it.

A startling new feature helps

Many of the participants focused heavily on Ford’s claim that the Lightning can be used to power a home in the case of a blackout. They were intrigued by the feature, but some were skeptical about the potential cost.

Sleek styling isn't always an asset

Some participants admired the Cybertruck’s aggressive looks, but most were put off. Several people compared it to a spaceship, and not in a positive way. One said, “It’s like one of those people buying things just so they stand out. There’s something distasteful about that.”

Performance still matters

Few people noticed the small print on the Cybertruck site claiming a range of up to 500 miles—far more than the Lightning. But those who did notice it were very intrigued and said that the extended range might drive them to consider the Cybertruck despite its other drawbacks.

Choose your battles when disrupting a market

Companies seeking to disrupt a market need to choose their battles. If you’re looking to make a major change, such as the engine in a car, also changing the styling may attract some early adopters looking to make a personal statement. However, it can be an added negative to mainstream customers who are already leery of making a change. For most people, maintaining familiarity during a transition is a big plus, and Ford looks to be tapping into that feeling far more effectively than Tesla.

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About this author:

Michael Mace is the VP of Market Strategy at UserTesting and a veteran of over 25 years in the tech industry. He's held marketing and strategy roles at Apple and Palm, co-founded two startups, and has consulted for many tech industry companies.