Reasons the Tesla Cybertruck Falls Short in EV Towing Performance

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Reasons the Tesla Cybertruck Falls Short in EV Towing Performance

Tesla stands out in the electric vehicle (EV) scene, leading the U.S. market with its impressive charging infrastructure, cutting-edge software, sophisticated battery technology, and the introduction of a new 800-volt system in the Cybertruck. However, when it comes to the challenge of long-distance towing, even Tesla’s technological edge hits a roadblock. According to Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained, the key factor in long-haul towing isn’t the tech innovations but the battery’s capacity.

Electric trucks can handle towing just fine over shorter distances. Thanks to their electric motors’ immediate torque and the absence of complex gear systems, they’re well-equipped for tasks like accelerating on highways. Models like the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, Tesla Cybertruck, and Chevy Silverado EV boast towing capabilities ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 lbs. However, the real test comes with a heavy load, like a 6,100-lb trailer, which drastically reduces their range to about a third of what’s advertised. For instance, a Rivian or a Ford with such a trailer significantly drops in range, while the GMC Hummer, despite its size and less aerodynamic design, experiences a smaller range reduction, going from a 329-mile range without a load to 140 miles when towing.

Interestingly, the bulkier and less aerodynamically efficient GMC Hummer performs better in this aspect. This counterintuitive outcome highlights that aerodynamic design plays a lesser role when towing, as the trailer itself creates significant drag. Fenske points out that a more aerodynamically designed vehicle could actually fare worse when towing due to increased drag resistance. Even the Cybertruck, with its unique design and features, doesn’t escape this reality, aligning its towing range performance closely with that of its competitors, according to Fenske’s analysis.

At the core of long-distance towing capabilities lies one critical factor: the size of the battery. The amount of energy required to tow is substantial, making the battery’s capacity paramount to achieving significant range while towing. This principle aligns well with traditional truck design philosophies, which often emphasize “bigger is better.” In this context, the Chevy Silverado EV emerges as a frontrunner due to its impressive battery capacity of over 200 kWh. This substantial energy reserve places it ahead of competitors like the Rivian, Ford, and Tesla, which offer battery packs ranging from 120 to 135 kWh. The larger battery makes the Silverado EV less efficient for daily driving but significantly more capable for long-haul towing.

This advantage was demonstrated in a real-world test by Fast Lane Truck, where the Silverado EV successfully towed a 6,500-lb trailer for 232 miles on a single charge. Such performance, coupled with a robust fast-charging network that accommodates trucks pulling trailers, makes long-distance towing more practical with electric trucks. Although it may not yet match the convenience of gasoline-powered trucks for long trips with campers, the Silverado EV’s performance marks a significant step towards making electric towing viable. For those looking to extend their towing range even further, anticipation grows for the upcoming release of the Ramcharger.

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