Tesla’s greatest marketing stunt of all time is probably its most recent—towing a Porsche 911 down a drag strip behind its new Cybertruck while racing a 911. It was extremely clever, and we’re still talking about it more than a month after it happened—so there’s no debating that it wasn’t effective.
There was just one problem that we called out: the actual race filmed was over an eighth of a mile. The video implied (and CEO Elon Musk flat-out claimed) that the Cybertruck is faster than the Porsche 911 in the quarter mile while towing the 911. It turns out that isn’t exactly the whole truth.
Popular YouTuber Jason Fenske, who is better known by his channel’s handle, Engineering Explained, recently put out a video on this very topic showing the math behind Tesla’s claims. This led to the lead engineer of the Tesla Cybertruck, Wes Morrill, chiming in to help clarify some of the events that happened that day:
The fastest 1/8mi CT hit while towing on the day was 7.808s at 88mph and the trailer tires were only rated to 80mph so we opted to call it a day before someone got hurt. Our simulations showed the full 1/4 mi race would be close but with the same net result, so no need to risk it. We also had some room to further lightweight the trailer but didn’t need to.
Morril also revealed that the video used in the promotional trailer (no pun intended) was not actually the Cybetruck’s fastest run down the strip. It was, however, the most dramatic finish that showed the pair neck-and-neck.
Now, after Jason’s video was published, Motortrend confirmed that its testing revealed an eighth-mile time of 8.0 seconds for the 2023 Porsche 911 Carrera T equipped with a manual transmission. Morril claims that the Cybertruck was able to pull off its stunt in 7.808 seconds while towing, which means that it was indeed still quicker than the Porsche.
But what about the quarter mile? Well, Morril says that Tesla’s simulations calculated that the Cybertruck would also beat out the Porsche in the quarter while towing, so that, along with the safety issues, resulted in a purely theoretical claim.
All of this could have been avoided if Tesla hadn’t dissolved its press department some time ago. These types of questions could have been clarified directly from the automaker rather than waiting for its lead engineer to chime in on X. But then Tesla wouldn’t get all of this free press coverage, would it?
All that being said, some YouTuber will almost definitely try to repeat this test with their own Cybertruck at some point in time, safety issues be damned. If that happens, I’m sure the world will get the results it has been hoping to see since the video was first debunked as a quarter-mile run.