Electric trucks: what are they and can they tow

Electric Trucks: What Are They & Can They Tow?

Many people are wondering if electric trucks are suitable for towing RVs. At first glance, they have the wheelbase, the chassis, and the frames to support such an endeavor, but the media and blogosphere are sending mixed signals. When you look at EV truck specs, most of the numbers say they’re capable of towable RV weight, but other specs say not really. So what’s the truth?

Join us as we show you the realities of pulling a camper with an electric truck and other camping options available. You’ll learn the added benefits they offer to your RV experience and the best-sized travel trailers that pair up with these EV pickup trucks. Together, we’ll explore what the RV Industry is doing to increase the driving time between charges.

How Do Electric Trucks Work?

Charging an electric car

EV motors use electromagnetism to create energy. Nikola Tesla discovered the concept over 100 years ago. To save you from a physics lecture, imagine a four-bladed windmill. Each blade has copper wire wrapped around it. On the left side at the 9 o’clock position is a magnet with a north polarization. On the right side at the 3 o’clock position is a south polar magnet.

If you remember from science class, when a north and south magnet are near each other, they connect due to their polarization; hence the phrase, opposites attract. Electricity from the truck’s batteries increases the power of the magnets, creating a magnetic field. The field makes the windmill turn, which creates the energy needed to power the EV truck. 

The truck’s computer keeps the windmill at an optimal speed to create the most energy using the least amount of power in the magnets. When you hit the “gas pedal,” the truck gets instant maximum torque and stays at that level. Gas cars and trucks need time to build up torque, giving EVs the advantage at the starting line.

Electric vehicles use two or more motors rather than one big engine like gas automobiles. Dual motor electric vehicles have one engine per axle. Tri-motor versions place an individual motor on the rear wheels and an axle motor in front. Quad configurations give the maximum amount of speed and torque since each wheel has a motor. The EV’s computer keeps the motors synchronized with each other.

The best towing trucks in the electric vehicle category aren’t always the quad-motor versions. Like their gas-powered counterparts, the motors, transmission, chassis, suspension, brakes, and other components must work in concert to achieve the performance needed for towing. 

Electric pickup trucks are generally going to favor towing travel trailers over in-bed fifth wheels. However, most of these trucks fall in the half-ton level and won’t have heavy-duty towing capabilities, so fivers aren’t looked at too much anyway. Of course, there are exceptions, but once the EV technology evolves further into the 250/2500 and 350/3500 truck categories, we’ll see more fifth-wheel towing options.

Non-Towing Camping Options

Many EV pickup truck companies aren’t just designing the truck; they’re also dabbling in the RV camping arena. The companies are adding features or teaming up with third-party vendors to distinguish their vehicle from their competition, making their vehicles “Camp-Ready.” 

Canoo 

Canoo Electric Pickup (Video)

Range200+ miles
Tow/Payload Capacity1,800 payload
Number of MotorsSingle or Dual
Horsepower500 hp
Starting MSRP$35,000
Expected Release2023

Not everybody wants a big truck. So the all-electric Canoo pickup uses a multi-purpose driving platform shared by the van and SUV versions. With a few tweaks for performance purposes, this quarter-ton-sized truck will have a big frunk, bed sidewalls that fold out as work tables, and the 6-foot bed can expand to an 8-foot bed in less than 30 seconds.

Canoo hasn’t released the towing capacity numbers yet, but it has a payload of 1,800 pounds. They’re putting together an Overlander Mode option that puts a truck cap tent on the bed. The payload weight will give you and a companion plenty of cargo-carrying capacity (CCC) for both of you to bring all of your gear for exploring. 

Rivian R1T Outdoor Kitchen

Hands-on Tour of the Rivian Camp Kitchen (Video)

Range300-400 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity11,000 lbs.
Number of MotorsQuad/ a motor on each wheel
Horsepower754 hp
Starting MSRP$67,500
Expected ReleaseJanuary 2022

The Rivian R1T uses sustainable materials when it can, like vegan leather, cork, and other eco-friendly components. On the passenger’s side, in front of the rear wheel, is a storage compartment they call a gear tunnel. It can hold up to 300 pounds. For those that want to explore the great outdoors, you can add their RV outdoor kitchen in the gear tunnel. 

The all-in-one design will remind you of the Opus Camper or inTech Flyer RV outdoor kitchens. It has a 1,440-watt two-burner induction stove, a sink, a 4-gallon water tank, and cork-lined drawers with molded spaces for all the kitchenware. Complete it with the Yakima Bed Tent, and you have a complete camping experience. For your electrical power needs, simply plug it into the provided outlets in the truck’s sidewall.

Tesla Cybertruck Cyberlandr

Tesla Cybertruck CyberLandr (Video)

Range250-500 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity7,500- 14,000 lbs.
Number of MotorsSingle, Dual, or Tri
Horsepower690 hp
Starting MSRP$40,000
Expected ReleaseLate 2021

Tesla’s Cybertruck has an incredible futuristic geometric shape. Unfortunately, if you’re an existing fifth-wheel owner, you might not want to put your name on the reservation list. The high sidewalls on the cargo bed are too high to connect your fiver. Tesla plans to work with other companies in the future to create RVs that will fit their uniquely designed fifth-wheel hitch.

The Cyberlandr from Stream It, Inc. is a cargo bed camper specifically for the Cybertruck. When collapsed, it fits in the truck’s bed so that you can deploy the truck’s retractable bed cover. The camper deploys four levels high. The two high-backed chairs fold into twin beds, the full bathroom comes with a dry compost toilet, and the multipurpose counter has two hidden induction burners. 

The solar panel roof absorbs 500-watts of energy. The Cyberlandr holds 40 gallons of fresh water and has a 20-gallon grey tank. It comes with the new StarLink Wireless connectivity and has a total wet weight of 1,360 pounds. The camper’s manufacturer states that it only reduces the Cybertruck’s driving distance by 5% since it’s so light.

The Big 3: Chrysler, Ford, and GM Electric Trucks

Ford F-150 Lightning

The All-Electric F-150 Lightning (Video)

Range230-300 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity10,000 lbs.
Number of MotorsDual
Horsepower563 hp
Starting MSRP$40,000- $53,000
Expected ReleaseSpring 2022

The Ford F-150 Lightning takes its name from the retired racing package Ford offered years ago. The huge frunk has enough space to hold two full golf bags and a drain if you want to use it as a cooler for tailgating. In addition, its bi-directional charging feature allows you to use it as a generator if your brick and stick house loses power.

In the video above, you see the new Ford F-150 Lightning pulling the Taxa Outdoors Mantis. The Mantis has a great look that gives you a feeling of future design and has features that make it perfect for on and off-road. Yet, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of only 4,200 pounds, the Ford electric truck is barely feeling it. 

[ Forest River floorplan: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRN4NrVvZEReyBnZ9Mwr9LfQhG_jvWaAkJshw&usqp=CAU ]

If you want to give the Lightning a challenge, let’s kick it up to the Forest River Alpha Wolf 30RDB-L. This 37.2-foot bunkhouse travel trailer comes in with a GVWR of 8,777 pounds. The RV has a living room slideout with a super U-shaped dinette and jackknife sofa. The bunkhouse sports two full-sized beds, a queen-sized residential master, a walk-in pantry, and a mid-coach RV outdoor kitchen. Now that’s Ford Tough.

GM Hummer EV

GM Hummer EV (Video)

Range350 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity11,000 lbs.
Number of MotorsQuad
Horsepower1,000 hp
Starting MSRP$80,000- $100,000
Expected ReleaseFall 2021

The Hummer EV will come in a tamer SUV or a short box pickup with 1,000 horsepower 11,500 lb./ft. of torque (no, those numbers aren’t typoes). Both versions will have advanced suspension technology that allows the driver to adjust tire pressure, suspension lift, and camera views to tackle all types of terrain. There’s even a crabwalk feature to get out of tight spaces.

On your way to that extreme trail, you plan to conquer; you’ll need an RV that can keep up with your Hummer EV. The Black Series HQ17 has an expedition vehicle-level suspension and an armored exterior. Inside, you’ll find luxury-level glossed cabinetry, state-of-the-art electronics, and the best of everything. Made for the Australian Outback, this brand now sells in the U.S. out of Los Angeles, California.  

Jeep Wrangler 4xE Hybrid

Jeep Wrangler 4xE (Video)

Range370 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity3,500 lbs.
Number of MotorsSingle rear electric, front 2.0L Inline 4 cylinder gas
Horsepower270 hp
Starting MSRP$50,000
Expected ReleaseAlready released

The Jeep Wrangler 4xE is a hybrid that comes in the Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude editions. You can drive in the all-electric mode or stick to the default hybrid mode. The ESave mode keeps you on the fuel-efficient 49 mpg gas engine preserving your battery. Braking regenerates the battery, but you can plug the vehicle in to charge.

If you look at all of the brands within Fiat Chrysler, they’re taking a conservative approach to EV trucks. However, Dodge plans to release an all-electric pickup truck in their 1500 series for the 2024 model year. We’re not going to speculate why Dodge is waiting so long, but it won’t disappoint when they release their EV Ram Truck.

If you’re going to tow with the Jeep Wrangler 4xE, remember, you’re only playing with 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. With all of the options, the dry weight of the inTech Pursue comes in just below 1,600 pounds. A weight like this gives you plenty of extra cargo weight for your gear and passengers. For added room, purchase the optional attachable rear tent for dining, den, or sleeping space.

Popular Electric Truck Brands

Atlis XL

How Atlis Is Able to Tow up to 35,000 lbs (Video)

Range300-500 miles
Tow/Payload CapacityTT- 6,000-17,000 lbs./ 5th- 20,000- 35,000 lbs./ Payload- 1,000-5,000 lbs. 
Number of MotorsQuad
Horsepower800 hp
Starting MSRP$45,000
Expected ReleaseLate 2021

Watch out for one-ton diesel pickup trucks; there’s a new kid in town. The Atlis XL will come in single or dual rear wheel configurations like your favorite 350/3500 series truck. If you’re looking for truck camper versatility, the company offers a flatbed. The standard bed will have the generator outlets like everybody else, but they include an air compressor.

Who needs a travel trailer when this truck can pull 20,000-35,000 pounds on a fifth-wheel hitch. How about a full-profile Heartland Milestone 377 MB fifth wheel with mid bunk and outdoor kitchen? At 15,000 GVWR (which includes your gear and passenger weight), full-timers will love this family-friendly RV. The mid-bunk even has a half-bath for the kids so that they won’t disturb you at night.

Lordstown Motors Endurance

The All-Electric Endurance, by Lordstown Motors (Video)

Range300-300 miles
Tow/Payload Capacity7,500 pounds
Number of MotorsQuad
Horsepower600 hp
Starting MSRP$52,500
Expected ReleaseSeptember 2021

Despite all the obstacles Lordstown Motors has faced (and they have been significant), the Lordstown Endurance is a half-ton class EV truck that can run with the best of them. This Lordstown Motors workhorse pickup sets the benchmark for electric pickup trucks at 7,500 pounds for towing and payload hauling. In addition, the company’s goal is to have the least moving parts, making the Endurance a solid piece of machinery.

Some want the fifth-wheel experience but don’t have the vehicle muscle to handle mid-profile or full-profile models. The 21.4-foot Escape 5.0 is a fiberglass fifth wheel with a GVWR of 5,500 pounds. Like all fiberglass RV companies, you order the coach directly from the manufacturer, so you can add all the customizations you want, like interior amenities, exterior features, and chassis upgrades like a body lift kit to take yours off-road.

Using the Buddy System to Increase Driving Distance

The downside of pulling an RV with your all-electric truck is the toll it takes on your drive time. The heavier the coach, the more power it takes away from the batteries. When you’re close to your maximum towing capacity, it can decrease your distance up to 50%. As a result, most EV truck companies add ports in the cargo bed or other places to connect additional batteries.

The RV Industry is also looking into this issue since it directly affects their future. One of the most popular ideas is installing an additional battery bay in their towable RVs. One battery bank feeds the power needs of the coach. 

The new second battery bay will connect to the hitch’s umbilical cord that currently powers the DOT lights and brakes. The second battery bay will feed the truck, adding mileage between charges as the EV truck’s batteries drain. Additional RV solar panels on the roof will regenerate both RV bays. 

Solar power is the slowest form of charging, but panel technology continues to become more efficient. None of the RV manufacturers have released any definite plans for this or other ideas. We do know that this additional second battery bay for all-electric tow vehicles is in the works. We may see it as soon as the 2023 model year. 

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Can You Still Buy That Dream Luxury Class a Motorhome?

Class A, B, and C motorhomes in the drivable RV world still come in gas and diesel engines. However, within the next few years, Lordstown Motors and Camping World partnered up to create the first-ever all-electric motorhome. The Class E motorhome will use a full-size van chassis and run off of a single battery bay. 

Don’t be worried about the future of Class A and C RVs. Even though they’re not getting much time in the spotlight, there are advances in their categories. Manufacturers are adding hydronic heating systems to diesel RVs, making them propane-free. In addition, electric amenities are replacing propane features each model year on gassers making them less dependent on LP and lighter.

Companies like Freightliner and Volvo are in the development process of creating electric semi-trucks. Once this technology bears fruit, we have a hunch it’ll make its way into the mobile mansion Class A RVs and family-friendly Class C motorhomes. 

To stay on top of the latest innovations and trends, bookmark the RV Troop website and check in often to stay on top of how the all-electric vehicles are changing the RV Industry. You can also learn more about the new and current models on the RV dealership lots near you. 

You’ll also discover tips and recommendations about living the RV lifestyle and finding the best gear. Become an RV Trooper today by adding the RV Troop website to your favorites. Get the edge on all things RV from our experienced veteran RVer experts to get the most of your own camping experience.

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