How far can an electric truck tow? The distance is a bit of an elusive question for some potential electric truck owners who have particular towing needs.
The distance a truck can tow serious weight is a very important factor when future truck owners decide what kind of truck they’ll get. You certainly want enough battery to move your equipment or trailer far enough without having to recharge frequently.
While journalists and auto enthusiasts have tested the towing limits of electric trucks, most electric truck companies don’t have a clear estimate for tow range on battery-powered vehicles. The answer is about half their estimated non towing range and is based on the weight towed, just like gas vehicles.
Electric trucks are coming along with tow range. We are going to explore some of the issues and positives related to owning an electric truck for the purpose of towing, how far electric trucks can go, and what factors go into how far they can tow. You’ll learn that electric and gas-powered trucks have many of the same challenges for towing.
We have a fair bit of experience both with towing and with trucks. We’ve also been following the development of electric trucks and their issues. Let’s dive in and explore details related to towing distance for electric trucks.
What do electric truck manufacturers say about their towing capabilities?
Truck specs are somewhat similar, but do vary based on the manufacturer, the power of the battery, and how much weight is being towed. With that said, here are some manufacturer's claims about their trucks.
Ford F-150 Electric
Ford F-150 electric truck can tow up to 10,000 lbs, which is great for most truck drivers who haul small and medium sized objects like sporting equipment, a boat, or some construction materials.
The answer also depends on the truck setup. An upgrade to the extended range battery can adds some horsepower, though Ford hasn’t said anything about the difference in towing distance for a larger battery - stating instead that the truck accelerates faster and offers more torque.
The plug side? Ford is developing software to communicate the impacts of the environment, the battery charge, and other variables to be able to tell the driver how much time they have left with towing, hopefully with some accuracy.
GMC Hummer EV
GMC is making a statement with a serious, futuristic looking truck equipped with 1,000hp of electric motors and the ability to “crabwalk.” The battery capacity will give you about 350 miles of range without towing anything, and the ability to tow 7,000 lbs to 11,000 lbs depending on your configuration.
If you want to get excited about an electric truck’s tow capabilities, Rivian probably has the most tests done and more specific indicators about distance. Rivian has a default range in tow mode of 135 miles. In this particular test, the crew trailered 2,000 lbs (in some ways, this isn’t that much) in a loop and ended up with 10% left for a capacity of about 150 miles, averaging about 55 miles per hour.
Riviain is also developing a larger battery to extend this capacity to over 200 miles.
The Tesla Cybertruck will reportedly have a capacity of 14,000 lb. The non towing range is around 300 miles, so we expect the tow range to be about half.
Chevrolet Silverado EV
The Silverado EV will be ready in 2024. Chevrolet claims to have a towing capacity similar to others with around 10,000 lbs. The vehicle is in the planning stages.
RAM has an upcoming electric truck on the same timeline as Chevrolet. RAM isn’t fully public yet, but they expect to include a gas powered range extender too.Expect the RAM to tow 10,000 lbs.
What factors go into towing distance and an electric truck?
Let’s first say that most of these trucks are not commercially available yet, with GMC still taking orders for the Hummer, and the electric F-150 available very soon in the spring of 2022. Many of the factors that go into towing capabilities are the same gas. Also note that truck manufacturers don’t necessarily state how far a truck can tow on a tank of gas or diesel because of the number of variables that go into finding that number.
So here are environmental and vehicle factors that can impact your towing distance:
Weight is the biggest variable. While trucks have a particular tow capacity, a 2,000 lb trailer requires less energy to move than a 10,000 lb trailer. Truck owners who have driven with gas their entire lives know that their gas tank will dwindle more quickly under a heavier load.
Towing up a mountain or lots of hills? These require more frequent acceleration and strain on the battery. A combination of extra weight and a higher hill to climb can reduce the amount of tow range. A future electric truck driver who drives through the mountains frequently might want to consult tests for the purpose of knowing which trucks work best.
Speed is a bit different when it comes to towing. Getting up to speed requires lots of energy, but maintaining a speed like 55 miles per hour is actually quite efficient. The idea here is that while your electric truck probably has plenty of fun acceleration qualities, you’ll get more mileage while towing if you accelerate at a normal rate of speed, and maintain speed as much as you can.
Many of the trucks released in the near future will have multiple battery options. Expect to pay more for higher capacity batteries, but plug in less often and have greater range.
Just like gasoline, electric truck batteries work better when they are a bit warmer. Extreme cold temperatures cause your gas mileage to drop, and optimal conditions for a vehicle battery are warmer than Alaska.
While trucks like the Tesla Cybertruck have been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, the trailer itself won’t be. Trailers are designed to hold things, and while they can have angles and edges that promote their ability to have wind funnel around them, it’s not something they are good at. Plus, adding an excavator or ATV to your truck won’t help this situation.
Tesla issues with aerodynamics and trailers are well explained here.
Is there concern about electric truck tow range?
Truck owners have been using gas and diesel for nearly a century. During that time, truck capabilities have changed significantly - and gas prices have fluctuated, to say the least. Construction workers, contractors, and people towing heavy equipment who have driven gas powered vehicles know that simply finding a gas station will help them continue on their way to work or play.
Electric trucks add a wrinkle. With the need for chargers comes the need for infrastructure. Whether that infrastructure involves battery charging stations like Tesla’s Supercharger network or using a higher powered outlet at home or the office, electric trucks might require a different kind of routine and freedom for drivers.
Once manufacturers like Ford, Rivian, and Tesla have an effective way to provide charge on the road and at home, many truck drivers will start to see electric trucks as a viable and realistic option. They may begin to enjoy the ability to skip the pump, have outstanding torque and acceleration, and sometimes even a little while to plug their vehicle into an outlet.
The future is bright for electric trucks. They have some of the same limitations as gas powered trucks, with lots of potential for energy independence and gradual price reductions.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding