Study: EVs Lose Range to Hauling, More Than Gas Trucks

By Sean Tucker 06/06/2023 8:47am

The all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup drives down a forest trailNo matter its fuel source, every truck loses range when you add weight to the bed.

That’s simple physics and something every fleet manager must consider in planning. But it’s not much of a problem for the average gas-powered truck owner. Gas is easy to find, and a gas tank so quick to refill that range loss is barely a factor in most truck owners’ hauling plans.

Related: Payload and Towing Capacity in Electric Vehicles

But America’s automakers have started introducing electric trucks. Truck owners need to know — is range loss a significant factor in owning one?

A new study from AAA says electric trucks lose more range than gas-powered trucks to a load in the bed.

Range Drops by About a Quarter When Loaded to Max

The AAA tested a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, empty and carrying a 1,400-pound load in the bed (near the truck’s maximum hauling capacity). They drove the truck on a 7.5-mile oval test track.

The EPA lists a 300-mile range for the specific trim level and options set AAA tested. The truck went 278 miles when unloaded. With a 1,400-pound load in the bed, the truck made it 210 miles — a 24.5% range loss.

Gas-Powered Trucks Would Lose 14%+ in Those Conditions

AAA did not conduct equivalent testing with a gas-powered truck. But the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that gas-powered vehicles lose about 1% of their fuel economy for every additional 100 pounds of load. So a gas-powered truck hauling a load would lose at least 14% of its range — possibly more if the load was boxy and introduced aerodynamic drag.

Related: How Far Can An Electric Truck Tow?

So yes, electric trucks haul less efficiently than gas-powered trucks and lose more range to added weight.

AAA: Not Many Drivers Use All Their Payload Capacity

But, says AAA Director of Automotive Engineering Greg Brannon, that may not be a huge consideration for many truck shoppers. “Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity,” Brannon says. “Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”

The tests are probably a more important consideration for those buying a fleet of trucks, particularly if they plan to fit them with permanent loads like built-in toolboxes and racks.