Electric vehicles carrying close to their maximum payload could lose a quarter of their range, according to tests done by the American Automobile Association.
Researchers from the group tested the Ford F-150 Lightning to determine the impact of payload on range. It loaded 1,400 lbs of sandbags into the truck, 110 lbs short of its maximum capacity.
The results showed the Lightning’s range dropped from 278 miles (447 km) to 210 miles (338 km) — a loss of 24.5% of its range.
“Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering. “Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”
The group acknowledged that range — be it electric or gas — will be reduced when so much weight is added to the vehicle. It also noted that the Lightning does have less expected range than its ICE version, which can get more than 500 miles (800 km) per tank with no load. It didn’t provide how its range was affected with a nearly maxed-out payload.
However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that adding 100 pounds to a vehicle reduces its average fuel economy by around 1 per cent — so a 14 per cent loss in fuel economy when hauling a 1,400-lb load.
“Buyers concerned about EV range should consider the driving they will be doing and choose the right vehicle for their needs,” AAA’s announcement said. “The difference, for now, is that it is easier to gas and go than stop and charge.”
Another key to remember is highway versus city driving — ICE vehicles have better range on the former while EVs are better in the latter due to regenerative braking from more frequent stops. This process captures the energy from braking and converts it into electrical power that charges the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. This electricity can then be stored in the car’s battery or power other electrical components.