Written by Rachael Kraft - January 10th, 2023
Horse owners are starting to whisper about whether to ask, “Can electric trucks pull trailers filled with their horses?” Sure, it’s not common… yet. But it’s only a matter of time until this new technology improves enough for everyone to jump on the bandwagon.
Many called 2022 the year of the Electric Vehicle. It’s no surprise with new models like the Rivian R1T, Ford F150 Lightning, and even the Tesla Cybertruck showing up on the market. (Yikes! The Cybertruck sure is weird looking!)
We weren’t terribly surprised when a horse trailer customer asked about using an electric truck to pull her one horse bumper pull with living quarters. Her trailer was still in production with our factory, but she has a Ford F150 in mind for towing.
So, can electric trucks tow? And, here’s a better question… are you ready to learn how FAR electric vehicles will be able to tow your trailer? Read on to find out.
Simply put, electric trucks are trucks that run off of a charged battery rather than using an internal combustion engine (ICE). Because they don’t produce the same level of vibration as ICE trucks, they tend to provide a smoother and more enjoyable ride. They also have fewer moving parts, which can reduce the risk of mechanical failure.
The REAL reason why people are getting excited about them doesn’t just come down to less shaking on the gravel road. The main advantages for electric trucks are:
Low carbon emission - If you want to be environmentally friendly, these trucks produce zero emissions so they do not contribute to air pollution or climate change.
High Torque - Electric motors are able to deliver power fast. So, when you’re driving up a road with a steep hill, your electric truck will respond easily to power up the incline. They also feel very stable on the road.
Save at the pump - So far, electric trucks look like they’ll have a lower operating cost compared to ICE trucks. They don’t require gas at all and have fewer moving parts for mechanical repairs.
Safety - Electric trucks are safe, just like their ICE counterparts, so no concerns there!
If electric trucks don’t use gas, then how do they manage to tow heavy things like boats, campers, or horse trailers?
The magic comes down to modern battery technology. There are various types of batteries used in electric trucks including lithium-ion batteries. This tech is still being developed and improved, so who knows what’s in store for us all in the coming years.
Here’s another interesting note. Many governments around the world are offering incentives to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, including electric trucks. These incentives can include tax breaks, access to priority lanes on the highway, and funding for charging infrastructure.
High torque and no gas consumption makes it seem like electric trucks are the perfect solution. But there are some drawbacks to consider.
Electric Truck Towing Range - Batteries only last so long and the distance they can last decreases when you make the job harder by towing something heavy. So, electric trucks have a limited range they can tow compared to ICE vehicles. (We’ll share more on this in a moment.)
Remember to Charge the Battery - When we mention “range,” what we’re really talking about is how long the battery will last before your truck runs out of juice. You’ll have to stop at a charging station and wait a while until the battery is recharged. It might be difficult to find a charging station along your route - especially if you’re headed into the countryside for a trail ride, so be sure to research in advance where to find a charging station.
Higher Upfront Cost - Electric trucks tend to be more expensive than ICE trucks, at least initially. This can be a significant disadvantage for some buyers.
Electric Truck Towing Capacity - Some electric trucks have lower towing capacities than ICE trucks, which can be a disadvantage if you need to tow heavy loads on a regular basis. (Again, more on this in a second…)
We already have several models of electric cars, SUVs, and trucks on the market. And, chances are, those numbers will continue to increase as more brands put out new models. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, global electric vehicle sales increased by 63% in 2020, driven in part by the growing popularity of electric trucks.
Thankfully, the charging infrastructure for electric trucks is also expanding, with more charging stations being installed in a variety of locations. Maybe you’ve noticed electric stations in the parking lots at the grocery store or in parking garages. I’m guessing you haven’t noticed them as much in rural areas or alongside showgrounds you frequent.
Electric vehicle adoption varies widely from country to country. In some countries, electric vehicles make up a significant share of new vehicle sales, while in others they are much less common.
In the United States, electric vehicle adoption has been growing in recent years, but electric vehicles still make up a relatively small share of new vehicle sales. According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicles made up about 2% of new vehicle sales in the United States in 2020.
In contrast, some countries in Europe and Asia have much higher rates of electric vehicle adoption. For example, electric vehicles made up more than 50% of new vehicle sales in Norway in 2020, and they made up more than 20% of new vehicle sales in both China and the Netherlands.
Interesting… but now back to the main point.
A number of groups including The Fast Lane Truck, Motortrend, and Recurrent Auto have decided to test towing with an electric truck. They found that electric vehicles had a towing range that was about 50% of the non-towing range. So, if you could normally go 300 miles without hauling a trailer, you could only expect to go 150 miles when all hitched up.
These testers didn’t use horse trailers, but we can use the known weights of horse trailers to make some general observations.
The electric truck towing range with a horse trailer will depend on several factors, including the towing capacity of the electric truck, the weight of the horse trailer, and the terrain and weather conditions.
In general, the electric truck with a higher towing capacity will be able to tow a horse trailer farther than those with a lower towing capacity. For example, an electric truck with a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds will be able to tow a horse trailer farther than one with a towing capacity of 7,000 pounds.
The weight of the horse trailer will also be a factor in determining how far an electric truck can tow it. A heavier trailer will put more strain on the electric truck's motor and battery, which will reduce the range.
Terrain and weather conditions can also impact the distance that an electric truck can tow a horse trailer. For example, towing a trailer through the mountains (with lots of steep hills) will require more energy and will reduce the range of the electric truck. Similarly, extreme temperatures can also affect the range of an electric truck.
The woman who spoke with us had a Ford F150 Lightning electric truck with a payload capacity of 1,900 lbs. This is well within the safe zone to tow most bumper pull trailers including the one horse living quarter trailer she had ordered.
Chevy’s electric truck only has a payload of 1,300 lbs and GMC boasts a 9,400 tow rating, but they keep their payload hidden (which suggests it’s not something they’re too proud of!)
Keep in mind that bumper pull horse trailers are often much smaller and lighter than their gooseneck or living quarters counterparts. Those trailers can often exceed 10,000 lbs of weight even fully unloaded. Add in your gear and 3 or 4 horses and your rig is suddenly much heavier and harder to tow.
Here are some values we found while searching for the best electric truck for towing:
Having a limited towing range isn’t too big of a deal if you have plenty of charging stations along your route. Just keep in mind that you’ll have a trailer full of horses waiting in the back. You won’t want to take too long with the recharge.
You’ll be able to find a charging station using tools available online. Some popular charging networks include ChargePoint, EVgo, and Electrify America. Apps like Google Maps also can help you find a place to plug in.
Once you find a charging station, the amount of time you wait will depend on the speed of the charger. The Ford F150 Lightning has a 98kWh pack battery and can charge from 15-80% in about 44 minutes (according to Ford.) It can only accept 150 kW charge rates at DC Fast Charging (DCFC) stations. Other trucks, like the Rivian R1T can accept 220 kW of power at DCFC stations.
There are also Level 1 (120V) and Level 2 (240V) charging stations which will take several hours up to a full day to recharge an electric truck. So, it really depends on your station.
The answer is: “sometimes yes… sometimes no.” Towing with an electric truck and your trailer will work with some trailers and some trucks. It depends on the tow capacity of the truck model and the size of the trailer. Limited range and limited towing capacity means that electric trucks probably aren’t the best option to tow your horse trailer on long trips.
First of all, many trailers are just too large for an electric truck to tow. Second, when you have horses in the back, you’re not going to want to stop every two hours to wait for your truck to recharge.
But, that’s okay. For now, you can use regular gas-powered trucks. Perhaps, in another few years, electric trucks will be ready for the challenge that is horse trailers!
The answer depends on the weight of your horse trailer and towing capacity of your truck. If the weight of your trailer (fully loaded) is within the towing capacity of your truck and hitch, then you should be able to tow it with your Tesla.
Electric trucks are very good at towing trailers up to a certain weight. They provide very high torque and great stability on the road. Some electric trucks wouldn’t be able to tow large horse trailers that exceed 10,000 lbs though.
Various groups have tested the towing range of electric trucks. They found that the trucks were able to haul trailers about 50% of the distance they would travel without hauling a load. For instance, the Hummer truck pulled a trailer 133 miles on a full charge.
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