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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/12/21 8:36 a.m.
feature_image

Tow a car from Detroit to Los Angeles. Simple enough, right?

But what about towing a car from Detroit to Los Angeles using an all-electric truck? Can it be done? Easily? And is that an autocross Mustang on the trailer?

To find out, a brand-new Rivian R1T is preparing to make that very trek, starting the week of Thanksgiving.

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docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
11/12/21 8:54 a.m.

I'm sure it can be done, with plenty of stops to recharge.  I read an article in C&D where they sent off a bunch of writers on a 1000 mile multi day road trip in a variety of electric cars.  At the end of the article all of them said they'd chose an ICE car for a road trip like that again.

Bottom line, until there are far more high voltage battery chargers and batteries that can charge up fully in ten minutes or less, long road trips or towing anything isn't going to be all that awesome in an electric vehicle.

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:00 a.m.

Really wouldn't think it would be that hard. We've already seen a rather substantial number of EV cross country trips, even here on this forum. Adding towing to the mix changes things, but for how many charging stations I passed in Amish country alone, it really shouldn't be that difficult or add that much time to the trip. 

The deserts are going to be the biggest issue really, and for the most part you can probably route around them. 

pkingham (Forum Supporter)
pkingham (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
11/12/21 9:17 a.m.

Yeah, the reduced range while towing will exacerbate the negatives, though the Rivian has a really long range compared to most EVs.  The location and quantity of the chargers, and the length of time required to charge the large battery in the truck are only part of the challenge.  The typical layout for charging stations is really unfriendly to vehicles with trailers.  

It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/12/21 9:17 a.m.

I am sure they are going to do it and be successful. It would be interesting if they did the same trip at the same time with an ICE truck too. They could detail the differences in the trip from a driver standpoint, an economy standpoint and environmental impact. 

That would be a good read (it may or may not sell Rivian's though).

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:20 a.m.

In reply to New York Nick :

That should be an article or even a YouTube series. 

Ford would probably be the best bet for that though because they have a gas and ev version of the same truck, get a real apples to apples comparison. 

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:34 a.m.

First stop could be at HF to buy the biggest Predator generator they have and put it in the trunk.

220 volts at 10,000 watts surely would extend the range decently.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:37 a.m.
docwyte said:

I'm sure it can be done, with plenty of stops to recharge.  I read an article in C&D where they sent off a bunch of writers on a 1000 mile multi day road trip in a variety of electric cars.  At the end of the article all of them said they'd chose an ICE car for a road trip like that again.

Bottom line, until there are far more high voltage battery chargers and batteries that can charge up fully in ten minutes or less, long road trips or towing anything isn't going to be all that awesome in an electric vehicle.

The supercharger Teslas use will give you 150 more miles in 15 minutes. There are already millions of those around. With the Government committed   to installing millions more.  Soon there will be more chargers than gas stations or gas stations with chargers.  If you own a Tesla there is an ap for that right on the dash.  There are a lot of them around.  Just stop at any Target store  for example. 
  in England  it's rare to have to go 15 miles before another charging station appears. In fact they tested all the top brands to see which went the furthest  and the route they used had them every 3-4 miles. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:41 a.m.
pkingham (Forum Supporter) said:

Yeah, the reduced range while towing will exacerbate the negatives, though the Rivian has a really long range compared to most EVs.  The location and quantity of the chargers, and the length of time required to charge the large battery in the truck are only part of the challenge.  The typical layout for charging stations is really unfriendly to vehicles with trailers.  

It'll be interesting to see how this goes.

Oh you mean you have to know how to back a trailer?  My local Target store has enough of them  that most of the time they are all empty. I've heard Fleet Farm is next to get them. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
11/12/21 9:45 a.m.
New York Nick said:

I am sure they are going to do it and be successful. It would be interesting if they did the same trip at the same time with an ICE truck too. They could detail the differences in the trip from a driver standpoint, an economy standpoint and environmental impact. 

That would be a good read (it may or may not sell Rivian's though).

My bladder needs to be emptied before I'd run out of range on a Ford F-150 EV.  Combine that with a meal and I'd be back to 300 miles again. 
   One question I have is how much would the regeneration gain you driving through a city during rush hour?  

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/21 9:47 a.m.
KyAllroad said:

First stop could be at HF to buy the biggest Predator generator they have and put it in the trunk.

220 volts at 10,000 watts surely would extend the range decently.

I wonder if it has pass-through charge capability to handle this...I've thought an EV with a range-extender trailer could be a good setup for a mixed street & track EV, you could show up to the track fully charged and leaving with a low battery would be no problem.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
11/12/21 10:01 a.m.

The Rivian charge port is at the front of the truck. He should be able to nose up to a charge station and plug in, then back away when charged. I wonder when we'll seen adapter plugs to plug Rivians into Tesla chargers and vice versa. 

Brotus7
Brotus7 Dork
11/12/21 10:01 a.m.

10k watts is only about 13 hp.  Sadly I don't thinking that's help as much as you'd think.

It'll be an interesting test, but I'm sure they have a very well designed route so real world experience may differ. Don't get me wrong, I'm super excited to read how it goes.

 

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UltimaDork
11/12/21 10:12 a.m.

In reply to Brotus7 :

True, but if you look into it, you don't actually use very much power while cruising along at a steady 60-70 on level ground (it's around 20-30 hp depending on rolling resistance and aerodynamic losses).  So 13 hp added constantly (uphill and down) would actually add a LOT of range.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
11/12/21 10:20 a.m.

it will be an interesting real world test ,

i would love to see the chart of how much power they use going over the Rockies with the heaters on , 

As others have said , having an ICE Truck do the same trip would give a good test and probably  show the  Rivian is a good choice.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/12/21 10:23 a.m.
KyAllroad said:

True, but if you look into it, you don't actually use very much power while cruising along at a steady 60-70 on level ground (it's around 20-30 hp depending on rolling resistance and aerodynamic losses).  So 13 hp added constantly (uphill and down) would actually add a LOT of range.

You use a lot more than you think if you're pulling a trailer while doing it.  Long distance towing is just about the worst use case there is for an EV truck.  They're using an open trailer, which will help, but that 3-4 mpg drop you get when you go from an open trailer to an enclosed one?  That's almost all from aero drag.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/21 10:32 a.m.

I'd be very interested in seeing how this goes as well. I think the infrastructure will catch up in the not too distant future - keep in mind we're not that far past the "buying gasoline at the local pharmacy in glass bottles" stage when it comes to electric vehicles.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/12/21 10:36 a.m.

Does Rivian have access to the proprietary Tesla chargers?  I suspect not.  This could mean much of the access will be to "not fast" chargers.  

New York Nick
New York Nick GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/12/21 10:48 a.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Don't get me wrong, I am not poo pooing this idea. I am a huge EV proponent. I want to see the side by side because I think it will give an honest comparison. I believe that the comparison will exceed many people's expectations. I regularly have discussions with hard line ICE people that won't acknowledge the strengths of EV's and come up with ridiculous scenarios to bag EV's. I think an honest side by side comparison of a real world drive is a great means to silence the haters and to showcase the technology.  For example, the crying about charging a vehicle with a trailer, may be real, may not be. I pulled a 23' trailer over 3k miles this year with a suburban and averaged 6.34 mpg. If you aren't skilled at backing up a trailer and planning how to take it in and out of places you are in for a world of hurt at a busy Sheetz in Virginia. Probably not terribly different at the charging post.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/21 10:57 a.m.

Towing takes a lot of energy. That energy has to be put back into the vehicle, and there are physical limits for how fast that can happen. So yeah, cross country towing is a tough nut to crack. The fact that you can charge overnight does help on a cross-country run, you get one stop for "free" every day. But still, the EV equivalent of 6 mpg means a lot of charging time at some point.

A lot of new Tesla charging stations are being built with at least one charger that can accommodate a vehicle with a trailer. This may be true of the other networks as well but I only know about the Tesla ones :) Also, a non-trivial number of Y owners are towing.

As for access to the Tesla chargers, I've noticed that the Tesla map now shows "Superchargers open to non-Teslas". They're all in the Netherlands where Superchargers use the CCS standard, but it's a start.

Also, note that EA has chargers in the wild that are equivalent to the fastest Tesla superchargers. A quick check on Plugshare shows 250 CCS charging locations with more than 200 kW in North America. Interestingly, the map only shows 291 Supercharger stations with the 250 kW V3 superchargers. So the non-Tesla networks are not far behind. CHAdeMO has 33, I think that standard will disappear before too long.

 It's important to distinguish between locations and chargers, a single location can have dozens of actual chargers or just one.

To play with the map, go to https://www.plugshare.com, select your desired plug type and set the minimum power to 200 kW.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/21 11:50 a.m.

So I'm wandering through 4000 CAN message identifiers in the Tesla network, and came across "towPackage". Turns out there is a factory tow package for the Y that incorporates anti-sway and is rated for up to 3500 lbs.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/21 11:53 a.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

The Rivian charge port is at the front of the truck. He should be able to nose up to a charge station and plug in, then back away when charged. I wonder when we'll seen adapter plugs to plug Rivians into Tesla chargers and vice versa. 

Probably never, there is bidirectional communication between the car and charger.  Which is pretty neat, it allows the car to control the charging rate.

The Tesla charger is going to want to see a Tesla on the other end of the connector.  IIRC they go so far as to prevent a VIN that has been reported as totaled from using the Supercharger network.

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass Reader
11/12/21 12:02 p.m.

This sounds really cool, Im curious how it goes and will follow along best I can. 

There are more and more chargers out there in the world,  and that'll help,but I wonder how often there would be one in the mid-west/great plains area, that'd be my concern. 

The charge time wouldnt be too terrible, like Frenchy said above - time to get to the restroom, get a snack, stretch legs. I know we've all been on road trips where we're pushing to get somewhere and took very little time...this would just be a time to slow down your processes and enjoy the gas station (hopefully it's a Sheetz, they're nice and clean and great food options).

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/12/21 12:12 p.m.

I've been watching Long Way Up on AppleTV+ (Ewan McGregor and a buddy riding prototype Harley electric adventure bikes from the tip of Argentina to LA) and the Prototype Rivian trucks seemed to do pretty well up to the point that I'm watching currently... but they all had to cheat a LOT due to no charger infrastructure. Kinda silly when you drive an EV but need a diesel truck with a diesel generator to complete the trip. Methinks it's much more possible in the USA. 
 

I still recommend the show. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/12/21 12:13 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

The Tesla charger is going to want to see a Tesla on the other end of the connector.  IIRC they go so far as to prevent a VIN that has been reported as totaled from using the Supercharger network.

Never is a very long time.

Tesla built a Tesla-only charging infrastructure in order to sell more Tesla cars.  Right now that infrastructure is a competitive advantage -- people will buy Teslas in preference to other brands because they get access to that infrastructure.  That's a short-term thing though, 5-10 years from now it's not going to matter.  I expect Tesla will either open up the charging network to all cars by that point or (more likely, IMHO) sell it to another company for whom charging is their primary business model.

And yes, Tesla has their own proprietary charging protocol right now.  That's also a short-term problem, new standards for these sorts of things are coming out all the time and charging stations get retrofitted with updates.

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