The Ford F-150 is 100 times more polluting than Tesla’s new Cybertruck.
The F-150 is a 100-tonne monster, and most versions of the world's most popular pickup pollute even more than that. 100 tonnes is the amount of climate pollution locked in every time someone buys one of Ford’s best-selling pickups. And that’s something that happens a lot — Ford sells 102 of them every hour of every day.
Tesla’s new Cybertruck is 100 times less polluting. If a new owner lives in a region with a clean electricity grid (like 80 per cent of Canadians), the Cybertruck will emit just one tonne of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
It’s a classic example of climate silence that consumers aren't given a simple way of comparing the full climate impact when they go shopping for a new vehicle, or any other product. It’s not difficult to provide a simple number showing climate pollution over the lifetime of a product, but governments don’t require it, review sites don’t offer it, and companies don’t volunteer it.
Climate pollution x100
So, we’ve done the math for you.
In this first chart, you can see how the different models of F-150 compare to the specs for Tesla’s new Cybertruck.
As you can see, the Cybertruck barely registers on the chart compared to the F-150. At the high end, the Ford F-150 Raptor will pollute more than 140 tonnes over its lifetime.
Someone buying an F-150 Raptor might as well pile up 153,000 pounds of coal and light it on fire.
In fact, if you loaded an F-150 with its own pollution, the weight would squash it flat.
Cybertruck crushes even charged on a dirty grid
One reason the Cybertruck is so much cleaner is that electric vehicles are much more efficient.
When you run a vehicle on gasoline only about 20 per cent of energy from burning gas actually turns the wheels. Electric motors deliver 80 per cent to the wheels, so driving an EV uses just one-quarter the energy.
That means that, even if your government still has your electricity grid running on coal, the Cybertruck causes much less damage to the climate.
You can see on this second chart that a Cybertruck in China would be only half as polluting as an F-150.
And even for grids which are dirtier than China’s, like the Canadian province of Alberta or the state of Wyoming, the electric truck still has an enormous advantage.
Crushing carbon puts money in your pocket
The electric truck driver is going to save a pile of money over the vehicle’s lifetime.
That’s the difference between buying gasoline for a 100 tonne CO2 truck versus charging it with electricity.
On this chart, you can see what it costs to run an F-150 versus a Cybertruck in the U.S. and Canada.
And we’ve added Europe so you can see the effect of carbon pricing. Europe prices carbon directly and member countries also have much higher road fuel taxes to disincentive gas guzzlers.
But what about the cost to buy the trucks in the first place? Surprisingly, Telsa announced a starting price for the Cybertruck of US$40,000, and $50,000 for the dual-motor all-wheel-drive version. That's right in line with the average selling price for an F-150 today at US$46,700.
F-150 more polluting than 170 countries
There are 193 countries in the world and each year's fleet of new F-150s locks in more climate pollution than 170 of them emit annually for everything.
Breaking climate silence
Buying a vehicle is the biggest carbon decision that most individuals will ever make. There are very few things you can buy that carry a 100 tonne weight of climate pollution. But many decisions have some level of climate impact so why don’t governments require climate pollution disclosure on products? Even in Europe, where carmakers are required to label their vehicles and include carbon statistics in any advertising, the system isn’t very user-friendly. Vehicles are labelled in terms of average grams of CO2 per kilometre.
That’s much better than the climate silence which prevails across North America. But wouldn’t it be much more effective for governments to require that product manufacturers advertise one simple number — the amount of climate pollution a product causes over the course of its lifetime? In the case of the Ford F-150, the number is a big one: over 100 tonnes.
When governments and industry begin to take climate change seriously, maybe they'll require that kind of disclosure. In the meantime, here's how it could look — all the existing information from fueleconomy.gov, but we've added a new right-hand column.