EVs Lose Range When Carrying Added Weight, AAA Test Shows

But Study Notes Excess Weight Reduces Fuel Economy in Gas-Powered Vehicles Too
Ford F-150 Lightning
AAA used a Ford F-150 Lightning for its tests. This is Ford's 2022 Platinum model. (Ford)

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Electric vehicles lose a significant amount of range when loaded with heavy cargo, according to a new AAA study released June 13.

An electric pickup truck can lose nearly 25% of its range when hauling loads about 100 pounds less than its maximum capacity, the study said.

“Range anxiety remains a top reason consumers are hesitant to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs,” Adrienne Woodland, a AAA spokeswoman, said in a statement. “While this study may heighten concerns, it’s worth remembering that excess weight reduces fuel economy in gas-powered vehicles too.”

In the study, the auto club’s researchers drove a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck with a 1,400-pound load of sandbags. The load was 110 pounds less than the truck’s maximum capacity.

Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 Lightning is one of its most popular vehicles. Last week, the company said it’s on track to reach its 150,000-unit production goal and its entry-level Pro model is sold out for model year 2023. A Ford spokeswoman wasn’t available to immediately comment on the study’s findings.

AAA’s test truck saw its range drop by 24.5% from 278 miles to 210 miles, it said. The test was conducted on a 7.5-mile oval test track and a dynamometer at The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles.

Simply put, extra weight in a vehicle requires more energy for it to move, researchers said.

“Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity,” Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering, the auto club’s division that conducted the study, said in a statement. “Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”


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In addition to carrying heavy loads, highway driving or permanent loads can also reduce an electric vehicle’s range, AAA said. Drivers on highways move at higher speeds and aren’t able to take advantage of EVs’ technology that captures energy from braking and feeds it into the battery, according to experts. Furthermore, electric vehicles with permanent loads such as equipment racks, built-in equipment trays and toolboxes, will also decrease their range, even without additional cargo.

Despite the study’s findings, AAA said that electric vehicles remain a viable option for many motorists.

“For buyers concerned about range, it’s essential to consider the driving they will be doing and choose the right EV for their needs,” Woodland said.

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