What happened

Technically speaking, Ford (F -0.99%) stock rose on Tuesday. However, its 0.2% gain was barely noticeable on the speedometer. The market's hesitation was connected with potentially ominous news from a rival that's posing an increasing competitive threat.

So what

That morning, Reuters reported that electric-vehicle (EV) king Tesla (TSLA -3.48%) intends to begin the mass production of its Cybertruck pickup. Citing "two people with knowledge of the plans," the news agency said that this should occur at the end of 2023. Previously, the company said it was aiming for an early production stage for Cybertruck in the middle of that year.

This could potentially affect Ford, as the incumbent carmaker has not yet launched mass production of its own EV pickup, the F150 Lightning. This model has garnered much interest from both consumers and green-vehicle advocates.

Neither Ford nor Tesla has yet commented on the Reuters article.

Now what

The Reuters story isn't Cybertruck gospel, however. After all, the model has seen delays before.

It was introduced to great fanfare and considerable hype in 2019 by high-profile Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and mass production was apparently to start two years later. In the EV-company's latest analyst conference call, Musk claimed that he and his team were in the "final lap" with the futuristic-looking vehicle. He's made many pronouncements, though, and not all of them have proven accurate.

This might, however, light a fire under Ford. It might spur the company to get the F-150 Lighting rolling out of factories and into customer driveways more quickly. The nascent EV-pickup segment is still ripe for the picking. Early-mover advantage is -- and will continue to be -- crucial.