Since the announcement that Ford was going to produce an all electric truck, I’ve wondered at the utility of it.
Now, granted, most urban and suburban people who drive pickup trucks don’t do it for utility. Some drive trucks because they’re bigger and safer on the road which is understandable. Some drive them on the off chance that they may need to load the kids’ bikes or a couple landscaping timbers and a bag of top soil from Home Depot in the bed once a year or so. Some do it simply as a fashion statement. For those people a battery powered truck would work just fine commuting and running errands around town and being able to recharge every night.
But for those few of us who actually use our trucks as trucks…haul heavy stuff, tow big loads, drive out into the boonies, off the beaten track…an electric truck is simply a ridiculous proposition. Great way to get yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
There are also the in between people who do use their truck for heavy towing, but only recreationally or occasionally. Those are the people who the video linked at hotcars.com is directed toward.
TLDR version: They did a head to head comparison of a Ford Lightning F150 vs a brand new GMC Sierra V8 towing identical ~6000lb travel trailers to see how they compare vis a vis range.
From the get-go, the onboard computers on the vehicles predicted that the gas truck would have about 100 miles more range than the electric, but even that didn’t pan out. The Electric vehicle’s computer was wildly optimistic when starting out with a full charge, predicting 160 mile range. Spoiler Alert: It didn’t make it that far. When they reached a charging station (after having to turn around because they weren’t going to make it to the next one), they had traveled roughly 86 miles and the battery was in the low single digits of charge left.
At that point, the gas powered truck turned around and went back the other way while the electric truck started charging. They only charged the Ford to 75% because the higher the charge gets, the longer it takes to reach it (diminishing returns), but the GMC still got back to the starting point and refilled the gas tank before the Ford finished charging at the half-way point.
The thing that really surprised me was the poor performance of the GMC truck. It was the higher end model with the optional 6.2 liter V8 (the same size engine (in displacement anyway) as my Ford F-250). After entering the trailer information, the GMC’s computer estimated a range of 265 miles from full. That prediction was way more accurate than the Ford’s, but I had to wonder if the 1/2 ton GMC just had a smaller gas tank than my 3/4 ton Ford.
Well, I guess not…because after it was all said and done, the gasoline powered truck towing a 6,000 lb trailer got 8.9 miles per gallon (almost exactly what the computer initially predicted, assuming a 30 gallon tank). Remember, this is a brand new truck with all the most recent fuel saving, computer controlled magic.
My 11 year old F-250 with the same displacement engine as the GMC, towed a 10,000lb load 285 miles, about half of which was through mountains, and still had 1/4 tank of gas left when I reached my destination. I got 13.7 mpg on that trip. Granted, I had to moderate my speed because of the trailer sway I was having, but I’d still expect a brand new truck to do at least as well as that towing 60% of the weight. My old F-250…21 years old at the time with only a 5.4l engine…got about 8 mpg towing our 5,000 lb travel trailer at highway speeds. I haven’t had the travel trailer on the highway yet with the new truck, so maybe the issue is the wind resistance rather than the weight. After we get a highway trip with the camper in I’ll let you know.
But the takeway from all this for me is that electric trucks are simply not up to the task if you actually use your truck as a truck. It’s a toy for rich city folk who want to seem “working class” as they put their virtue on display.