The Ultimate Guide to Towing Capacity for Electric Vehicles in 2023

By: HowStuffWorks  | 
towing capacity for electric vehicles
Electric motors deliver instant torque, making EVs well-suited for towing trailers and heavy loads. Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty Images

Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant traction in recent years, offering a greener and more sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. However, one common concern among potential EV buyers is their towing and hauling capabilities. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of EV towing capacity, exploring the various factors that contribute to towing performance and highlighting the top electric vehicles that excel in this area.


Understanding Payload and Towing Capacity

To grasp the concept of towing capacity, it's crucial to differentiate between two key terms: payload and towing capacity. Payload refers to the maximum weight that a vehicle can carry in its cabin and cargo bed. On the other hand, towing capacity is the maximum weight that a vehicle can tow behind it.

Factors such as horsepower, engine strength, and cooling systems play a vital role in determining a vehicle's towing capacity. Trucks and SUVs designed for towing often feature robust chassis, suspension components, and enhanced cooling systems to handle the additional load.


EVs and Towing: Can They Handle It?

While early electric vehicles were primarily small hatchbacks and luxury sedans with limited towing capabilities, the EV market has evolved significantly. Today, manufacturers design electric SUVs and trucks with towing in mind. These EVs boast impressive torque and power numbers, thanks to their electric motors' ability to deliver instant torque without needing to rev up.

Electric pickup trucks have emerged as the frontrunners in the realm of EV towing capacity. The GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and Ford F-150 Lightning are among the top contenders, boasting impressive towing ratings that rival their gas-powered counterparts. For instance, the Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet Silverado EV claim maximum tow ratings of 10,000 pounds, with Chevy promising an upgrade to 20,000 pounds later in its production run.


The Impact of Payload on EV Range

While electric trucks excel in towing, payload capacity is an area where they face some limitations. EVs are generally heavier due to the weight of their electric motors and battery packs, which can impact their payload ratings. However, most electric trucks still offer adequate payload capacities for typical drivers.

For example, the electric Ford F-150 Lightning Standard Range model has a maximum payload capacity of 2,000 pounds, while the Extended Range model can handle up to 1,800 pounds. In comparison, a traditional F-150 with a V8 engine boasts a maximum payload rating of 3,325 pounds, while a Ford Super Duty can carry a whopping 7,850 pounds.


The Impact of Towing on EV Range

Towing significantly affects the range of an electric vehicle, even if the weight being towed is relatively light. Real-world tests have demonstrated that towing can lead to a substantial reduction in an EV's range. For instance, a test conducted by Motor Trend on the Ford F-150 Lightning showed that towing a small travel trailer weighing 3,140 pounds reduced the truck's range to 115 miles. Towing a heavier 7,218-pound camper resulted in a range of only 90 miles.

Payload also affects an EV's range, albeit to a lesser extent. Since pickup trucks typically have modest payload ratings, carrying a load within the vehicle's payload capacity won't have as significant an impact on range compared to towing.


Considerations When Towing with an EV

While EVs offer towing capabilities, there are several important factors to consider when towing with an electric vehicle. One major consideration is the impact on range. It's essential to plan your towing trips carefully, especially when traveling long distances. Towing can cut an EV's range in half or even more, depending on the weight being towed and other factors.

Charging infrastructure is another crucial aspect to consider. While gas stations are ubiquitous, charging stations may be less prevalent, especially in remote areas. It's important to map out charging stations along your route and be prepared for potentially longer charging times compared to refueling at a gas station.


Additionally, factors such as hills and extreme weather conditions can further impact an EV's towing performance. Uphill climbs can significantly affect an EV's range, and extreme heat or cold can reduce efficiency even further. It's essential to consider these factors when planning your towing trips and make adjustments accordingly.

The Best EVs for Towing in 2023

In 2023, several electric vehicles stand out for their impressive towing capacities. Let's explore some of the top contenders:

  • Tesla Cybertruck Tri motor: With a maximum towing capacity of 13,999 pounds, the Tesla Cybertruck Tri motor takes the crown for the highest towing capacity among EVs in 2023.
  • Rivian R1T Dual-Motor AWD Large Pack: This electric pickup truck offers a towing capacity of 11,001 pounds, making it a formidable competitor in the EV towing arena.
  • Rivian R1T Quad-Motor AWD Large Pack: With the same towing capacity as the Dual-Motor AWD variant, the Quad-Motor AWD Large Pack version of the Rivian R1T offers exceptional towing performance.

These electric trucks are designed to handle heavy loads, making them ideal choices for towing trailers, boats, and other sizable cargo.


The Relationship Between Towing Capacity and Range

It's important to note that towing capacity and range are inversely related in electric vehicles. As the towing capacity increases, the range typically decreases. This is due to the increased energy demand required to tow heavier loads.

As mentioned earlier, towing can reduce an EV's range by a significant margin. It's crucial to account for this decrease in range when planning your trips and ensure that charging infrastructure is readily available along your route.


The Future of EV Towing

As EV technology continues to advance, we can expect even greater towing capabilities in the future. Manufacturers are investing in research and development to enhance battery technologies, improve charging infrastructure, and increase towing capacity.

In the coming years, we may see electric trucks with towing capacities that rival or even surpass those of their gas-powered counterparts. This ongoing innovation in the EV industry will further solidify electric vehicles as viable options for towing and hauling heavy loads.



Electric vehicles have made significant strides in towing capacity, challenging the notion that only gas-powered vehicles can handle heavy loads. With the rise of electric pickup trucks like the Tesla Cybertruck, Rivian R1T, and Ford F-150 Lightning, EVs are proving their towing prowess.

However, it's important to understand the impact of towing on an EV's range and plan accordingly. Towing significantly reduces an EV's range, necessitating careful trip planning and consideration of charging infrastructure availability.


As the EV industry continues to evolve, we can expect further advancements in towing capabilities, driving the adoption of electric vehicles for towing purposes. With ongoing technological developments, electric trucks will become even more versatile, solidifying their position as formidable contenders in the towing world.

This article was created using AI technology.