Looking To Buy An EV Truck? New Study Finds Range Dropped Nearly 25% When Hauling Heavy Cargo
June 22, 2023
Electric vehicles (EVs) have been gaining popularity in recent years as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. However, a new study conducted by the AAA Automotive Engineering Research Team has found that EVs lose a significant amount of range when loaded with heavy cargo, highlighting an important consideration for potential EV owners.
In recent years, the top three vehicles sold in the U.S. were pickup trucks, according to Edmunds. And of the 15 million cars and trucks sold in the U.S. in 2021, roughly 13 percent of them were pickup trucks, according to Edmunds. So why has it taken so long to introduce an electric version?
Trucks directly target the vulnerability of EVs: as the vehicle becomes heavier, the battery required grows larger, resulting in increased weight and cost. Take, for instance, the Ford F-150 Supercrew with a gas engine from 2021, weighing over 5,000 pounds, in contrast to the electric 2022 Chevy Bolt compact car, which weighs just under 3,600 pounds. To accommodate the payload capacity of trucks, batteries, being the costliest component in an EV, had to advance in terms of energy density.
After extensive testing and significant advancements in battery technology, automakers have now introduced electric pickup trucks capable of traveling up to 300 miles on a single charge. Three prominent manufacturers — GM, Ford, and the newcomer Rivian — are releasing their highly anticipated models onto the roads. Furthermore, both Dodge and Tesla have plans in place to release their own electric pickup truck models in the near future.
In a recent study of battery range & load capacity they specifically focused on the new Ford F-150 Lightning, a popular electric pickup truck. When the vehicle was loaded with 1,400 pounds of sandbags, just 110 pounds shy of its maximum capacity, its range dropped by 24.5%. This means that the vehicle's range decreased from 278 miles to 210 miles. To put this into perspective, 1,400 pounds is equivalent to hauling around 70 bags of mulch or 20 bags of concrete mix.
"This study is important for broadening our understanding of the limitations of electric vehicles," said Mark Jenkins, Spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Range anxiety remains a top reason consumers are hesitant to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs. While this study may heighten concerns, it's worth remembering that excess weight reduces fuel economy in gas-powered vehicles too."
The findings of the study highlight the impact of physics and driving behavior on the range of EVs. Extra weight requires more energy to move, and the type of driving also plays a role. Highway driving, which typically involves higher speeds and less regenerative braking, will further reduce the range of an EV. Regenerative braking is a feature of EVs that allows them to capture and convert the energy from braking into electrical power, which can then be used to charge the vehicle's battery.
It's important to note that EVs perform more efficiently in urban driving conditions, where there are more frequent stops and opportunities for regenerative braking. Gas-powered vehicles, on the other hand, tend to be more efficient at higher speeds. This means that EVs are well-suited for city driving, while gas-powered vehicles are more suitable for highway driving.
In the case of battery electric pickups used as work vehicles, even permanent loads such as equipment racks, toolboxes, and equipment trays built into the vehicle will reduce the range at all times, regardless of whether additional cargo is present.
Despite the range reduction when hauling heavy cargo, EVs remain a viable option for many drivers. "For buyers concerned about range, it's essential to consider the driving they will be doing and choose the right EV for their needs," said Jenkins. Each EV model has its own specifications and range capabilities, so potential buyers should carefully assess their needs and consider factors such as daily driving distances and cargo requirements.
With current battery technology, the study highlights the impact of heavy cargo on the range of current electric vehicles. While there is a significant reduction in range when EVs are loaded with substantial weight, it's important to consider individual driving needs and choose the right EV model accordingly.
If you are in the market for an EV truck use the Driving Cost Calculator at: https://www.aaa.com/autorepair/drivingcosts - Along with the AAA Car Guide to assist you with your selection of the right vehicle to fit your needs and budget, visit: https://www.aaa.com/carguide/