Hopping on the green train isn’t always simple. Some environmentally-friendly alternatives can’t match what we’re already used to. Now that trucks are becoming electrified, it’s a good idea to ask questions and compare the performances of electric trucks to those running on diesel.
Electric trucks can’t tow more than diesel trucks. The build, weight, battery size, cab size, and whether a truck is a two or four-wheel drive will influence its towing capacity. However, electric trucks generally have a lower range than diesel vehicles, especially while towing.
In this article, I break down the towing capacity of electric and diesel trucks, explain which factors influence a truck’s towing potential, and list the challenges you might face when towing with electric trucks.
Towing Capacity: Electric Trucks vs. Diesel Trucks
It’s difficult to list the average towing capacity of electric trucks compared to diesel ones. There isn’t enough data available, and the little that is, focus on specific brands.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some numbers from manufacturers who weighed their electric trucks up to diesel trucks with similar specs:
|Electric Trucks and Towing Capacities
|Diesel Trucks and Towing Capacities
|Ford F-150 Lighting: 3,490 – 4,535 kg (7,700 – 10,000 lbs)
|2022 Ford F-150: 3,700 – 6350 kg (8,200 – 14,000 lbs)
|RAM 1500 EV: estimated 4,535 kg (10,000 lbs)
|2022 RAM 1500: 2,776 – 5,783 kg (6,120 – 12,750 lbs)
|Chevy Silverado EV: 3,628 – 4,535 kg (8,000 – 10,000 lbs)
|2022 Chevy Silverado 2500HD: 6577 kg (14,500 lbs)
I don’t think the electric trucks are too far behind the diesel ones. With some tweaks to their design, they’ll out-tow diesel trucks within a few models.
On a single charge, each truck can cover an average distance, which will vary depending on battery size and the vehicle’s weight. Towing will affect a truck’s driving range.
Average Normal Driving Range For Electric Trucks
(these numbers were provided by automakers)
Ford F-150 Lighting: 483 km (300 mi)
RAM 1500 EV: estimated 804 km (500 mi)
Chevy Silverado EV: 643 km (400 mi)
Average Towing Driving Range for Electric Trucks
On average, electric trucks lose 45 to 50% of their driving range when towing a load up to 80% of their maximum towing capacity.
For example, the Ford F-150 Lighting can travel approximately 145 km (90 mi) while towing a camper before its battery needs a recharge. Based on this comparison, the vehicle is around 60% less efficient when towing a heavy trailer.
Factors That Influence the Towing Capacity of Electric Trucks
When shopping for an electric truck, you should ensure it can handle all your needs. Many factors impact the towing range. Here’s what you need to know:
The battery size of your electric truck will directly influence how heavy a weight it can tow. Big batteries will easily handle heavy loads, while smaller ones will have trouble pulling the same weight.
Electric trucks can’t accommodate massive battery packs without the battery significantly impacting their design. Automakers must incorporate innovative technology in their trucks if they want compact battery packs that can tow heavy loads.
The Number of Motors
Electric trucks have electric motors instead of engines. Like a diesel truck’s engine, the number of motors an electric truck has will influence the weight it can carry or tow. Most all-wheel-drive trucks have two motors which function better than an engine at low rpm.
The Challenges of Towing With Electric Trucks
You’re bound to run into some challenges when towing an electric truck. Although the automotive industry is pushing toward electrification, there are still many road bumps to overcome.
- Travel Time: Towing can decrease your travel range by up to 50%, and fueling a truck is faster than recharging it. Every additional charge will cost you about an hour of travel time. One good solution is considering onboard solar panels and looking for a truck with regenerative braking.
- Accessibility: Infrastructure still has a lot of catching up to do. Charging points aren’t available everywhere, so you’ll have to plan your routes accordingly. You can also expect to unhook your trailer at every charging point since these charging stations aren’t designed with towing in mind. Invest in a truck with a removable battery pack.
- Weather Conditions: Electric batteries are affected by the weather. You should keep your truck’s battery at around 20°C (70°F) for optimal operation. Any lower or higher than this will influence how far you can drive. Invest in a cooling system like air cooling, phase change material, liquid cooling, or fan cooling.
Are Electric Trucks Better Than Diesel Trucks: The Verdict
Electric trucks are superior when it comes to daily driving. They don’t contribute to air pollution, give instant torque, require little maintenance, and save you money in the long run.
These vehicles can cost you up to 20% less than diesel trucks per drive, and they reduce greenhouse emissions by about 50%.
If you regularly need to pull heavy loads, a diesel truck is better. Although electric trucks have benefits, diesel trucks have a long track record, and their manufacturers have optimized them for towing. With the little data available, it seems like diesel trucks out-tow electric ones.
The Future of Electric Trucks
Automakers add more electric vehicles to their list each year, and the future for trucks looks bright!
Rivian, Tesla, Ford, Lordstown, and GM are just some names dropping details about their upcoming electric trucks. Many of the trucks announced for production promise to surpass their diesel-powered contemporaries.
These future models aim to have faster charging capabilities, more horsepower, longer driving ranges, bigger battery packs, and heavier towing capacities.
Electric trucks are known for their steep price tags, but some brands vowed to deliver budget-friendly versions. Although low production levels will keep prices relatively high, it’s sure to drop when the market’s interested.
If you need a truck for regular or business-related towing, sticking to diesel models, for now, seems like an intelligent choice. Electric trucks can’t match the towing capability of diesel trucks yet, but they’re close!
Electric trucks are a better investment if you have charging ports where you live and only tow once in a while. You’ll save a lot on everyday driving if you use your electric truck for this.
Choosing between the two will depend on your individual needs. If your main aim is to live more sustainably, there’s no better choice than an electric truck.
- Phys.org: Diesel or Electric? Study Offers Advice for Owners of Urban Delivery Truck Fleets
- ScienceDirect: The Potential of Electric Trucks – An International Commodity-Level Analysis
- ACS Publications: Electric Urban Delivery Trucks: Energy Use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Cost-Effectiveness
- University of Michigan: How Extreme Cold Affects Vehicles And Batteries
- Transport Topics News: Taking a Look Under the Hood of Electric Trucks.