There’s been a lot of reports about attempted trailer towing with an EV truck, specifically a Ford F-150 Lightning. And the big question is this: Is it practical to tow any kind of travel trailer with the available EV trucks?
The short answer is NO! Let’s review the reports from the latest to the earliest ones.
MotorTrend towing test
Tow No! The Ford F-150 Lightning Struggled in Our Towing Test
Read the full press release HERE.
To break it down, MotorTrend used an F-150 Lightning to tow three different travel trailers. Highway speed was around 65 mph, and the air temp was 72 degrees. The initial range was around 275 miles without a trailer. This quickly dropped to around 100 miles pulling any kind of trailer.
“We towed 3100-, 5300-, and 7200-pound travel trailers with Ford’s electric truck and didn’t get very far from home.We had been warned to expect the range to be cut in half when towing, but the effect of towing these travel trailers proved even more significant. With the smallest and lightest trailer, we measured a range of just 115 miles. That figure fell to 100 miles with the middleweight camper and sank to a mere 90 miles with the 7,218-pound Grand Design trailer.”
Motorious towing test of the F-150 Lightning vs. the GMC Sierra Gasser
Just a few weeks ago, Motorious did a parallel towing test comparing the range of an F-150 Lightning with a GMC Sierra with a standard gICE (gasoline Internal Combustion Engine). And the tests showed the same 2/3 loss of range when towing a trailer.
“The Ford truck didn’t make it the 282 miles the onboard computer estimated, a figure which was adjusted to 160 miles once the driver provided the trailer specs. The plan was to go to a charging station 147 miles away, but as the batteries depleted more rapidly than expected, a destination 45 miles closer was chosen. However, the Lightning couldn’t even make it the 102 miles pulling the trailer, so the driver had to turn around and head back to a nearer charging station, arriving with 9 percent charge left.”
My own GoGreenRV towing test last July with an ID.4
While I couldn’t talk Ford out of an F-150 Lightning last year, Volkswagen did step up by supplying me with an ID.4 EV SUV. Not exactly a pickup truck, it was still rated to tow 2,800 lbs., so I used a Safari Condo Alto trailer.
The Alto is a beautiful teardrop trailer that clam-shells down to hardly 6 ft. tall while towing, but opens up to over 6 ft. inside headroom. I hoped that the lower height would reduce the drag enough to reduce the expected range loss while towing. Read my full report HERE.
But that was not to be. At a highway speed of 65 mph, I experienced a 60% loss of towing range.
While I really liked the ID.4 as a daily driver around town, and even on 100-mile trips, the existing EV battery technology is simply not ready to tow anything significant. Yes, it can be done, but you’ll be limited to perhaps 100 miles at a time, and then you have to disconnect your trailer from the tow vehicle to charge it up for at least an hour or more.
When will practical towing with an EV be possible?
I don’t think that EV is going to be practical with existing battery technology anytime soon. I’ve been watching the graphs on the energy density and cost curves for battery technology, and my best guess is that by 2030 this could be possible, since they’re predicting huge advances in battery storage over the next 8 years or so.
However, in the meantime I think that hybrid vehicles like the F-150 PowerBoost I tested last year are really interesting, especially when you add the optional 7.2kW inverter generator that can literally run for days from the idling V6 engine. The PowerBoost offers real possibilities of boondocking for days without dragging around a heavy generator and gallons of gasoline.
Sadly, Ford doesn’t seem to be interested in promoting the F-150 PowerBoost for towing a camper or even as a backup generator for a house. My questions about the possibility of an F-250 PowerBoost go unanswered. But that could be a real towing machine if they decided to built one.
But in the meantime?
I’m watching the Lippert Edison and Airstream E-Stream prototype trailers closely, and will report after I can get some road time with them. But it could be a year or more before either prototype is ready to hit the streets.
Let’s play safe out there….
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Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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I have a F150 with the 7.2kW inverter generator. While I hate the truck because of all the electronics and pop up windows. Plus other dumb things. What I like about the optional 7.2kW inverter generator was on our way back from a long camping ride. We were able to run a 20 amp extension cord from the F150 generator with a dogbone adapter and run the 15,000 btu travel trailer A/C. In the camper for our dogs while we were in a restaurant having supper. The trouble with the F150 hybrid and I believe electric vehicles. They are forgetting to design them using the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) method.
I agree about the general controls being too complicated on many new vehicles. The Volkswagen ID.4 has a huge touchscreen that’s pretty to look at, but there are multiple menus you need to go through just to set the fan air conditioner temp or fan speed. So you have to take your eyes off the road while making A/C adjustments.
I am glad companies are trying to find alternative transportation concepts. This generation that continues to think that there is an endless supply of oil is no friend of our great grandchildren’s kids. The first computer was the size of a building and could multiply a couple of numbers. Today, a single SD chip can hold 150 encyclopedias on it and cost less than hours pay. Positive people will get the job done. A person can easily haul their little RV to a park a few miles away and get away for a weekend. NO, TODAYS E-vehicle wont haul my 30,000 lb fifth wheel across the country like my big Ford Dually,,,,,what ever!
I don’t think you’ve quite tightened all the screws yet. I’ve never seen a 30,000 lb 5th wheel yet. Research my friend, don’t be like journalists who pick a subject off the internet and start typing.
24,000 to 26,000 is pretty common among high end fifth wheels, and there are plenty of 30,000 pound capacity hitches being made.
Bill, you do realize that getting hit by lightning is generally bad, really bad.
But some live.
Your 24 to 26 thousand pound trailer example is intentionally misleading. As those make up such a minute percentage of trailers, thus reducing your entire point to a meaningless babble.
People such as yourself, trying to force technology that doesn’t work, on people that have something to lose by adopting it, are doing “the cause” no good.
People dont like being told what to do, and will often do the opposite just because they can. When the solutions make sense, then people will adopt them. Until then realize you don’t get to tell others what to do or how to live their life, no matter how much you want to think so.
I drive over an hour off road to get to my camping spot, not to mention the hour and a half to get off pavement. I would really, really love to be independent of gasoline, but that isn’t going to happen in the near future unfortunately. Until then, let people live their lives.
Self appointed “elistest” love to push and mandate that others not follow, but do what they wish.
David appears to be in that camp.
His spelling is pretty good.
David, you shouldn’t show your highly self-elevated personal esteemeness of yourself card. It’s not pretty or decent.
That said about the obvious.
Let’s touch on the fact that your proposal is basically a one size shoe fit. Which is so far removed from present and near present reality to be laughable.
Forced compliance, either by mandate or shaming is just so wrong on too many levels.
Last point your highness David.
I love electric vehicles. We are moving in that direction. My wife’s next vehicle will almost be assuredly an electric. Already have a date planned and possible make picked. Our truck won’t be for quite the time due to our horses and camping trailer needs. We own stock in Tesla and Ford solely for their electric vehicles / or increasing interest in electric.
But we currently don’t have the charging grid ready and won’t for some time, for a complete changeover anytime in the near future. Batteries getting better, but their capabilities are a far cry from handling our transportation needs. Rare earth elements needed, are ……..well………rare and expensive. We also depend too much on an enemy that they declared……………on those……….well………. rare earth elements. Recycling efficiently and safely of the batteries are many, many years off.
Lastly, the vast majority of our citizens can’t afford the changeover now or anytime soon. But you smuggly don’t care, sitting on your high chair.
As I been watching the EV truck testing on youtube I see it as a solution looking for a problem.
It’s a wish of the current administration’s, as usual they come up with an idea and never think it through, technology is not there yet, infrastructure is many years into the future and the general public is not ready to be told what to buy. There forcing it down our throats is making people more resistant. Elon Musk said a year ago our infrastructure is not ready for massive EV sales. When I see power companies start spending millions to upgrade their part of the infrastructure I’ll start thinking about EVs. People in CA are trading in their EVs because their infrastructure cannot handle the current load, pun intended, they wait in line to get into a recharging station then wait more than an hour to recharge.
A WEF Agenda Being Forced On All Humanity… Its Not Practicality.. Its About Control…
I look forward to a day where there are better transport methods than current gas engines. Less parts, less maintenance, smoother drive, quieter, more fun to drive, and better technology. Yeah…so not about control.
Agree! The early automobiles could be considered impractical at that time as well. There’s a development curve to anything new.
…and a whole lot of complaining. My new Nissan Leaf is in the garage right now getting its first charge. It’s amazing to drive, especially passing gas stations and Jiffy Lubes.
I think that Level-2 overnight charging at home is a practical way to enjoy the benefits of an EV without waiting in line for a high speed charger. For example, my wife averages around 200 miles per week, with most local trips being less than 20 miles. An EV SUV with a 250 mile range would be perfect for her.
My range is 150, which is fine for several days in city use. Level 2 charging took it from 50 to 75% in about 1.5 hours. Charging stations would be for long trips.
David, I agree with your first two sentences. Wholeheartedly!
David, your last sentence does not agree with your first long entry from earlier. Just scroll up and re-read.
Your original entry was all about control.
Along with elitism.
Hi, Shane. You should re-read the comments you’re responding to. David and Dave are two entirely different people. Somehow you’ve combined them into one person, so your responses “don’t compute.” Also, please don’t put people down because their point of view doesn’t coincide with yours. Thank you. –Diane
Agreed! When and if they get everything sorted out none of us will be around to enjoy it. If the government had meant for this push to work then the power grid would need to be able to handle the load, recharge stations available everywhere, the battery technology would be available. I’m thinking we are quite a while before all of the above are in place. But telling some people on here “it’s about control” is like pouring gas on a fire. Even though it is absolutely the truth.
Where I live the grid is just fine. I’m enjoying it right now.
This is coming faster than you think. Look how quickly smart cell phones and huge flat screen televisions took over their respective markets…