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The truth about electric truck towing

If you have an interest at all in electric pickup trucks, you’re probably concerned with how far you can tow with one. Whether you’re just hauling a set of side-by-sides to your summer cabin twice a year, or regularly hauling around lawn care equipment — or anything in between — it’s a question you likely have.

If you’ve turned to the internet, you’re going to see answers that are all over the place.

For example, the folks at MotorTrend did a towing loop with several trailers in a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, and one of trailers reportedly lowered the range of the truck to less than 100 miles.

Out in YouTube land, Hoovie’s Garage did a towing video with the Lightning recently that had reported results so low that his video became the target of right-wing sensationalist — and general piece of human feces — Alex Jones.

On the other hand, the folks at Edmunds performed a towing test with the Lighting where the truck performed exceptionally well.

We also did a towing test, which you can watch at the top of this story, where the truck also performed significantly better than we had expected despite early reports of the contrary.

So who’s right? Well, in a lot of ways, they all are.

Once you look past some of the sensationalism involved, you’ll notice there are differences in each way the test was performed.

For example, in California the towing speed limit is 55 mph, and Edmunds adhered to that towing speed limit. There is no such speed limit in Ohio, so we towed at the 65 mph, which is the fastest most professionals we’ve talked to drive.

The MotorTrend test was somewhere between 65 and 70, but the shape of the trailer was quite different. In the Hoovie’s Garage video, he admits that his trailer was creating some drag because he didn’t use a drop hitch to level the flat car hauling trailer out, and also stated his speed was in the 70 mph range.

Every single pickup truck on sale, regardless of power, loses range while towing. Every. Single. One. The number is also significant in many cases. I don’t know a lot of EcoBoost F-150s getting over 10 mph when towing, for example.

What matters here is the aerodynamics of what you’re hauling. A box trailer or camper blocks more wind as you’re driving down the road, creating drag. A car is designed to be aerodynamic so if you’re towing one properly, the aero of the trailer and car helps you lose way less range.

In fact, aero makes more of a difference than weight with cars. That’s why EV manufacturers are bragging about drag coefficient and not as concerned with removing weight from their vehicles.

All of the tests you’re seeing online are valid tests — with some being more scientific than others, especially in the case of YouTube — but they’re all observed range numbers.

The point is your mileage will vary, just like it always has. Electric pickup trucks can tow like gasoline-powered trucks, and they lose range while towing like a gasoline-powered truck.

Now, there are legit concerns about towing with an electric truck, such as how and where do you recharge, how long you have to recharge for, and so on. You’re going to want to evaluate how often you tow in your life, and what you tow in your day-to-day life, and decide from there if an EV truck is for you.

If not, that’s OK. These are first generation products. It’s OK if an EV doesn’t fit your lifestyle. But it’s also important to know how your experience may differ from someone else’s experience.

Written by Chad Kirchner
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