Electric Vehicle Towing Capacity: What You Should Know

Kerry Gibson
Updated on Apr 10, 2022 · 4 min read
As the market for EVs continues to expand and offerings diversify, consumers want to know how they perform when it comes to hauling. There are many factors that affect electric vehicle towing capacity.
Similarly to gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, range will vary greatly when towing with an electric vehicle. Some cars are rated to tow anywhere from 2,000 lbs to 5,500 lbs. Electric pickup trucks have a towing capacity starting at 7,500 lbs, with some future models projecting 20,000 lbs. Critics tested one of these electric trucks to determine its performance under pressure.

Features of the Rivian R1T

The 2021 Rivian R1T was the first all-electric pickup truck to enter mass-production. MotorTrend loaded it up through the mountain passes of California to examine the effects on its estimated range.
The truck is equipped with a 21-inch road wheel and tire package, as well as a 135 kWh battery. Its long-range is 314 miles, but the company warns that maximum towing capacity will cut the range by 50%. It’s rated for 11,000 lbs and will travel from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds fully loaded.
For the road test, it was hooked up to a flat tilt-bed car hauler with a Chevrolet Astro on top. The van was loaded with 1,600 lbs of rubber mats for a total towing weight of 8,992 lbs. The unit’s gross combined weight, including the R1T, was 16,135 lbs.

EV towing capabilities

The first notable benefit of electric vehicles is the instant torque they provide. A gasoline engine takes time to deliver power, but this is not the case for EVs. Even if a driver is hauling a heavy load, there is no issue with accelerating from a stop sign or passing a slower car. Power is immediately available when climbing hills.
Altitude does not affect performance whatsoever. Unless you’re traveling downhill, which is even better thanks to gravity and regenerative braking. Electric vehicle towing capacity is improved as energy is recaptured through braking. The extra heat produced while slowing down will replenish the battery.
Electric vehicles will also revise the estimated range based on the operator’s recent driving. Selecting the appropriate driving mode will more accurately adjust the range. The R1T estimates 159 miles of range when fully charged in towing mode.
The test drive proved slightly better than Rivian’s range estimation, a significant accomplishment considering all of the uphill climbs. Towing with an electric pickup truck is quick and safe, with zero tailpipe emissions.

The challenges of towing with EVs

Of course, there are certain drawbacks to towing with electric vehicles. Payload will greatly affect the distance traveled with any car or truck. Fuel and battery consumption increases in conjunction with overall weight. Hauling a camper is one thing, but adding a family of five and a few coolers will reduce an electric vehicle’s range.
And then there’s the question of accessibility and time, as highlighted by Autotrader. Public DC fast chargers are still slower than fuel pumps. Every recharge will cost an additional hour of travel time.
The infrastructure is not designed with towing in mind, either. Most chargers are not built for pull-through traffic, which means unhooking trailers is still necessary at this point.
Electric vehicle towing capacity will also be affected by the weather. Batteries operate best in temperatures around 70 degrees. Range is further reduced by the draw of accessories like climate control. In addition to weight, road conditions, speed, and trailer shape will all affect the towing performance of an electric vehicle.

Towing with EVs going forward

It’s important to note that while aftermarket trailer hitches and towing components are available for electric vehicles, manufacturers may not recommend towing with certain models. Make sure you tow safely within your vehicle’s rating.
Range anxiety is still prominent when towing with electric vehicles, but may grow in popularity as charging equipment continues to improve. Whether you haul your trailer with fuel or battery power, Jerry will help you find the right insurance coverage.
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