Electric vehicles do a lot of things really well, and often better than their combustion counterparts. However, cold weather performance isn't one of them, as EV batteries aren't capable of delivering the same driving range as they do when they are warmer.
A couple of months ago I posted the results of a cold-weather road trip I did with my Ford F-150 Lightning when I drove from my home in northern New Jersey to my in-law's home in southern Vermont.
The F-150 Lightning made the trek without requiring me to stop along the way to charge, and I arrived at my destination after covering 211 miles with 3% state of charge remaining. I wanted to see how the Rivian R1T would compare on the exact same route, and in very similar weather conditions.
So last week I charged up the R1T and headed north with my wife to see how the R1T would perform at highway speeds, in below-freezing temperatures, and with an altitude climb of roughly 1,100 feet. We set the air pressure to the manufacturer's recommended 48 PSI, set the heating to 70° F and on the lowest fan setting, and put the R1T in Conserve driving mode.
Conserve driving mode decouples the rear motors and turns the R1T into a front-wheel-drive vehicle and it's the most efficient driving mode. However, Rivian warns against over-using Conserve mode because it puts too much strain on the front motors, so it's not the right driving mode for all of your driving. Just use it on long trips when you need the extra efficiency and you'll be fine.
As with the Lightning trip, I charged up the R1T inside my garage and preconditioned before leaving so the battery and cabin were both nice and warm when we left. The whole trip we had winds between 10 mph and 15 mph blowing from the northwest, and since we were traveling north, it was nearly a headwind. Luckily, the wind conditions were nearly identical when I completed this journey with the Lightning, which made the comparison even better.
My Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning
Since the R1T has a usable battery capacity of 128 kWh and I've likely lost one or two kWh of capacity so far, I knew I needed to average at least 1.7 mi/kWh to make it. The Lightning has a slightly larger battery pack, and 131 kWh is available, so I could have made it even if I averaged 1.6 mi/kWh. I barely beat that, and the Lightning finished the trip averaging 1.7 mi/kWh.
When we pulled into my in-law's driveway three hours and fifty minutes after we started out, the R1T still had 8% state of charge remaining and our average consumption for the trip was 1.83 mi/kWh. The R1T finished the head-to-head cold weather range test besting the F-150 Lightning by 5% state of charge.
Check out the full video above for more details about the trip.