Will towing significantly reduce the range of the Tesla Cybertruck, Hummer electric pickup, Rivian R1T, Nikola Badger or any of the other upcoming electric pickup trucks from the likes of Ford, General Motors, Bollinger and other? The answer is a solid "yes" and the drop can be substantial, but gas/diesel trucks suffer from this too.
Though our focus here is on electric cars, trucks and SUVs, we often need to look beyond electric vehicles when examining certain topics such as towing. Up until recently, towing wasn't a major concern for electric car owners and potential EV buyers. That's mostly becuase the electric offerings that are available today aren't exactly suited to towing, aside from a few vehicles like the Tesla Model X and Audi e-tron.
However, there will soon be an influx of electric pickup trucks on the market and you can bet that buyers of these trucks will take interest in the towing capabilities. We've all seen the claims put forth by the EV truck makers in regards to towing, but those are just weight figures. Most electric truck can tow a lot, some can tow millions of pounds under certain circumstances, but what's the impact on the range? That's the burning question and the answer might surprise you.
In regards to range, we need look no further than conventional pickup trucks. Sure, EVs differ some, but the range hit on conventional trucks will rather directly correlate with what we see with standard gas/diesel trucks.
Reduced range from towing is the result of much higher drag, the added friction of more tires on the roadway and, to a lesser extent, the weight of what's being hauled. If you're interested in learning how much towing can impact the range of a Ram 3500 diesel pickup truck, then this article and the video within will help spell that all out.
Basically, range drops dramatically when towing a trailer and that mostly is a result of aerodynamics and lots of drag. Losing 50% of your total range or more is not uncommon depending on what you're towing, so you should pick your electric truck accordingly.
Here's what I tow and here are my range results
Case in point. I'm an avid camper. I own a 2019 Ram 1500 V8 Hemi (hopefully someday this will be replaced by an electric truck) and tow the camper seen below. It's lightweight at only 1,900 pounds. It stands about 8.5 feet in height and is about a foot wider than the truck that's towing it (not counting the mirrors).
My Ram truck can easily cover 520 miles or so on a full (29 gallon) tank of gasoline. That's without the camper attached. With the camper attached, my total range varies considerably depending on speed and wind conditions. The worse result to date was achieved on a mostly highway trip to a state park in which my total calculated range was only 217 miles. That's a massive drop from the 520 I can achieve without the camper in tow. On other trips, my range was better at up to around 315-320 miles on a full tank of gas.
Though far from scientific, my results match up with other anecdotal stories you can find on various websites. Aerodynamics and the impact of drag on range are largely the same for gas/diesel and electric vehicles, so expect similar results in an electric pickup truck. The main difference here is that gas/diesel trucks are easily and quickly refueled on the road en route to your destination. The same isn't always true for electric vehicles.
As always, your mileage may vary, but do expect to see a significant reduction in range when towing with your electric truck or SUV.