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Old 12-03-2023, 03:41 PM   #1
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EV Tow Range Analysis

With the release of the Cybertruck and several other notable large battery pack EV trucks, here's an analysis of potential range.

Let's keep this an EV focused technical discussion without clouding it with politics, hybrid, diesel, what-have-you. Create your own thread if you have an interest in those topics.

There's little question that these new breed of EV trucks will tow with authority and stability. Range inevitably is the question that is high on everyone's mind, including my own. I've tried pull together a current assessment based on the latest data gathered around the web.

I'm baselining the numbers around a larger 25-28 ft length and weight class Airstream, which roughly translates into a 6k box trailer which there is more data for. An Airstream is likely incrementally more aerodynamic which has a good likelihood of slightly better numbers than represented here.

Notably, the only real trip charging infrastructure that is both reliable and available today is Tesla's. Before the rest of the industry makes their EV compatible with that charging network, in my mind, there is only a single viable solution which is Tesla's own vehicles, of which the CT is singularly more suited than any other model.

In my mind, a range about 160+ miles is the threshold for viability as most charging infrastructure is setup for around range.

Onto the numbers:

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Old 12-03-2023, 04:26 PM   #2
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Will be interested to see if the Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4 version the following year will track with the Chevy versions, of if they’ll differentiate any.
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Old 12-03-2023, 04:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pteck View Post

In my mind, a range about 160+ miles is the threshold for viability as most charging infrastructure is setup for around range.
Thanks for turning the discussion to a fact based dialog.

Is a nominal 160 mile range at the threshold of viability?

I can plan on a 372 mile range towing my 25' Globetrotter with an F-150 Powerboost (12 mpg, 31 gallons, @62mph, no wind, no grades). But then reality takes over since those are idea conditions.

Add a 20 mph headwind and some mountains and my range may be 100 miles shorter. Then there is the matter of refueling/recharging at destination with services. Not so much a challenge in the East but out West it is a consideration for ICE vehicles and a much bigger issue for EV's. For EV's there is a unique challenge that recharging may be available but the recharging station will likely not be configured to service an EV towing a long trailer.

I am a conservative planner so out West where services are typically far apart I typically plan a non stop leg towing the trailer with an F-150 PowerBoost to be no more than 230 miles.

All the same variables (and a few more) come into play with an EV. So If you are starting with a best case, run to empty range of 160 miles, what would you plan for a real life trip segment?

If I had a Ford Lightning towing a 25' Airstream, I would plan to recharge about every 100 miles. Others less risk adverse might play it closer. Running out of charge, with a trailer in tow, on the interstate in an EV, is towing event, since there is currently no way to charge an EV on the side of the road. There is no 5 gallons of gas bail out as we have with an ICE if you run out of charge.
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:04 PM   #4
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Thanks for turning the discussion to a fact based dialog.

Is a nominal 160 mile range at the threshold of viability?

I can plan on a 372 mile range towing my 25' Globetrotter with an F-150 Powerboost (12 mpg, 31 gallons, @62mph, no wind, no grades). But then reality takes over since those are idea conditions.

Add a 20 mph headwind and some mountains and my range may be 100 miles shorter. Then there is the matter of refueling/recharging at destination with services. Not so much a challenge in the East but out West it is a consideration for ICE vehicles and a much bigger issue for EV's. For EV's there is a unique challenge that recharging may be available but the recharging station will likely not be configured to service an EV towing a long trailer.

I am a conservative planner so out West where services are typically far apart I typically plan a non stop leg towing the trailer with an F-150 PowerBoost to be no more than 230 miles.

All the same variables (and a few more) come into play with an EV. So If you are starting with a best case, run to empty range of 160 miles, what would you plan for a real life trip segment?

If I had a Ford Lightning towing a 25' Airstream, I would plan to recharge about every 100 miles. Others less risk adverse might play it closer. Running out of charge, with a trailer in tow, on the interstate in an EV, is towing event, since there is currently no way to charge an EV on the side of the road. There is no 5 gallons of gas bail out as we have with an ICE if you run out of charge.
The towing range with our last BMW SUV was 160-200 miles. I don't recall ever thinking that it was a limitation, it just was what it was.

Charging station configuration when towing will be less of an obstacle going forward. New Supercharger stations that we have used have drive through bays (not all of the bays, mind you, just a portion).

I have found that it is pretty hard to run our BEV to zero. We have slowed down to avoid an extra charging stop at times. We have used slower chargers when we had to. But we have never been stuck on the side of the road. We once had an alert on the screen that based on the planned destination we had entered, our state of charge, the ambient temperature, our then current travel speed, and winds, which our vehicle takes into account in calculating range, we could slow down by 20 km/hr to make it to our destination, or we could stop at one of the chargers it was showing on the screen.

There are mobile charging solutions that are exactly the same in concept as a 5 gallon can of gas. One such offering is shown below. AAA is now offering mobile electric charging in major cities. I would expect them to expand that service over time. And there are EV models (including from Ford and Tesla) that can charge other EVs. Even Ford pickups with power outlets in the bed can charge a BEV, as Ford delighted in showing (The Ford ad was of them charging a Tesla; the Cybertruck promo was of a Cybertruck charging a Ford).
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by goldenchase View Post
If I had a Ford Lightning towing a 25' Airstream, I would plan to recharge about every 100 miles. Others less risk adverse might play it closer. Running out of charge, with a trailer in tow, on the interstate in an EV, is towing event, since there is currently no way to charge an EV on the side of the road. There is no 5 gallons of gas bail out as we have with an ICE if you run out of charge.
This a really excellent point. It's one thing to talk about theoretical overall towing range, it's something else to be able to count on being able to charge up just as you run out of juice. Even towing with ICE trucks I very rarely let the fuel gauge get below 1/4 tank and I DO carry a 5 gallon can of fuel just in case.
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:15 PM   #6
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And there are EV (including from Ford and Tesla) that can charge other EVs. Even Ford pickups with power outlets in the bed can charge an EV, as Ford delighted in showing (The Ford ad was of them charging a Tesla; the Cybertruck promo was of a Cybertruck charging a Ford).
Yup, I have a Tesla Model Y and a Ford F-150 PowerBoost with ProPower Onboard 7.2kw generator. The PowerBoost will charge the Model Y if you have the right adapter on board. Given the charge rate I would guess it might take an hour to get the equivalent of 5 gallons of fuel range into the Model Y. So it can be done if a friendly PowerBoost happens by.
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:22 PM   #7
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This a really excellent point. It's one thing to talk about theoretical overall towing range, it's something else to be able to count on being able to charge up just as you run out of juice. Even towing with ICE trucks I very rarely let the fuel gauge get below 1/4 tank and I DO carry a 5 gallon can of fuel just in case.
This pretty much captures the EV TV novelty it is at this stage of development.

I'm not interested in being the cool camper, I want to get there in a reasonable amount of time, not stopping every hundred miles hoping I can recharge, get there safely with the right truck for the job and enjoying the destination.

Worrying about the charging grid in the Upper Peninsula isn't on my wish list.
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:24 PM   #8
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Yup, I have a Tesla Model Y and a Ford F-150 PowerBoost with ProPower Onboard 7.2kw generator. The PowerBoost will charge the Model Y if you have the right adapter on board. Given the charge rate I would guess it might take an hour to get the equivalent of 5 gallons of fuel range into the Model Y. So it can be done if a friendly PowerBoost happens by.
I had never worked it out, so just for fun...

My vehicle charges at up to 50 km per hour with a 240 v outlet.

At 11 kw (the same as the Tesla Wall Connector, and the output of the Cybertruck outlet) it charges at up to 71 km per hour.

I would have had to really screw up to end up with zero battery that far from a charge point, but it is possible
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Old 12-03-2023, 05:28 PM   #9
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I had never worked it out, so just for fun...

My vehicle charges at up to 50 km per hour with a 240 v outlet.

At 11 kw (the same as the Tesla Wall Connector, and the output of the Cybertruck outlet) it charges at 71 km per hour.

I would have had to really screw up to end up that far from a charge point, but it is possible
PowerBoost with ProPower can only service two legs @ 30 amps, not 50 amps. When I charged the Model Y from the F-150 I did not try it at full output.
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Old 12-03-2023, 06:48 PM   #10
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I never let my F150 with a 36 gallon tank get below 1/4 tank, and rarely below 1/2 tank. I saw the TFL test with the Silverado. That clearly had the most range than the Lightning they tested, and from their vantage point made towing with a BEV more acceptable. The Silverado seemed to do a better job recharging the battery going down the hill. What it lacked was some of the technology benefits of the Ford Lightning. So in their mind it was a wash. My concern with a BEV pickup is will they make charging stations that would allow for easier access for towing? And of course where I live just the general charging network is pretty limited. Right now I even have to be careful to find a gas station that has good access to fill the gas tank. Diesel users will have it easier since they can go through the truck fill ups.

So it still gets down to range, availability for charging, even accessing the charging stations, and the speed at which they charge. Our habit is to stop every 2 to 2.5 hours get out of the pickup (about 150 to 175 miles) We stop at a gas station and I top off the gas tank. And when we stop it’s for about 10 minutes.

That would be my guideline for towing with a BEV pickup.

The only time that is different is when I have gone to South Dakota. There the wind conditions can get pretty significant. And the distance between even gas stations is a bit problematic. I have to careful with my F150 with a 36 gallon tank if I’m bucking a stiff wind.

And from the chart provided it looks like the Silverado more closely matches my range guidelines. Now it is all about charging stations and charging speed. Not going to sit there for 45 minutes to charge. It’s got to get down in the 15 minute range.

And from what I understand charging to 80% has to be the guideline as well, because of the extra time to go the extra 20%. So the pickup has to be able to go 150 to 175 miles very comfortably (while towing) at 80% before charging.

I’m not going to talk about the inefficiencies during cold weather, since we don’t winter camp so it doesn’t become and issue.
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Old 12-03-2023, 07:11 PM   #11
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AFAIC, it's not that charging stations aren't available (they are in many places) or if it's possible to charge from another vehicle in a pinch while towing (it may be). The point is that whether you're towing with an EV or an ICE vehicle most people don't want to risk going right down to the edge of their range. That means when you're talking about a manufacturer's spec of 160-200 miles EV towing range, practically speaking it's more like 120-150 miles if you want to leave a margin for error and avoid range anxiety. Also, manufacturer's range numbers assume a 100% battery charge and that's rarely practical to obtain on the road when cost and time are an issue. To be realistic about it, these things should be taken into consideration when deciding whether an EV's towing range will be practical for you, not just what the maximum number is on paper.
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Old 12-03-2023, 08:57 PM   #12
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I appreciate that no one wants to tow without margin. We've all been there. With any trailer in tow, the stakes are higher with less flexibility. 160 range is the bare minimum and working at that or less range is going to greatly increase the likelihood for challenges. 160 because general "fueling" infrastructure is spaced less than that on major routes. Agreed, EV charge stations still have a lot of filling in to do.

Lots of the comments seem to be from the lens of ICE and range anxiety because of the fuel "guess-o-meter".

With EVs and Tesla's in particular, you'll know explicitly that you'll have a problem well ahead of the next charge point. The energy map shows so many variables. One thing that can dramatically change range is speed, so there are mitigations.

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Old 12-03-2023, 10:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by pteck View Post
I appreciate that no one wants to tow without margin. We've all been there. With any trailer in tow, the stakes are higher with less flexibility. 160 range is the bare minimum and working at that or less range is going to greatly increase the likelihood for challenges. 160 because general "fueling" infrastructure is spaced less than that on major routes. Agreed, EV charge stations still have a lot of filling in to do.

Lots of the comments seem to be from the lens of ICE and range anxiety because of the fuel "guess-o-meter".

With EVs and Tesla's in particular, you'll know explicitly that you'll have a problem well ahead of the next charge point. The energy map shows so many variables. One thing that can dramatically change range is speed, so there are mitigations.

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The fuel guess-o-meter is a real problem. As I said, no BEV for me until I can get 175 miles on 80% battery charge with room to spare. I have enough to think about towing a 6,000lb trailer…brakes, tires, driving hazards, etc. I have no desire to worry about being stuck along side of the road because I can’t get the necessary energy (fuel) to continue. If I have to baby it along, forget it.

And then it isn’t just about EV charging stations. Do I have to disconnect the trailer when I get to the charging station? Will it have a fast charger? etc etc etc. Until these things are fixed no BEV for me.
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Old 12-03-2023, 11:01 PM   #14
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The fuel guess-o-meter is a real problem. As I said, no BEV for me until I can get 175 miles on 80% battery charge with room to spare. I have enough to think about towing a 6,000lb trailerÖbrakes, tires, driving hazards, etc. I have no desire to worry about being stuck along side of the road because I canít get the necessary energy (fuel) to continue. If I have to baby it along, forget it.

And then it isnít just about EV charging stations. Do I have to disconnect the trailer when I get to the charging station? Will it have a fast charger? etc etc etc. Until these things are fixed no BEV for me.
In our case, we didn't have to baby it, we were given the option to to slow down from 130 km/hr to 110 km/hr after we came through the Rockies and hit the flat lands. We chose to stop in Canmore instead. When we clicked on the screen to say yes, we would stop for a quick top up, it added that Supercharger to our trip, told us how many stalls were available, and provided directions. It was 2 exits ahead, and 2 minutes off the Trans Canada Hwy.

As to whether it has a fast charger or not, we see all the Superchargers in real time on the vehicle display. I wouldn't go to a charge site without knowing what was there. With Superchargers, we know whether it is a 70, 150, or 250 kW station. We know how many stalls it has, and how many are available at that moment. They are currently changing the system to show estimated wait times if all stalls are full, but we haven't needed that feature yet.

Tesla doesn't show how many stalls are pull through, but that is available on line through non-Tesla groups like the Tesla forums, with a wiki listing all the Supercharger sites. It will be better when that info moves to the Tesla data stream because it will be able to tell us, just for example, that there are 12 stalls, 8 are available at that moment, and 4 of those eight are pull through.
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Old 12-03-2023, 11:26 PM   #15
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In our case, we didn't have to baby it, we were given the option to to slow down from 130 km/hr to 110 km/hr after we came through the Rockies and hit the flat lands. We chose to stop in Canmore instead. When we clicked on the screen to say yes, we would stop for a quick top up, it added that Supercharger to our trip, told us how many stalls were available, and provided directions. It was 2 exits ahead, and 2 minutes off the Trans Canada Hwy.

As to whether it has a fast charger or not, we see all the Superchargers in real time on the vehicle display. I wouldn't go to a charge site without knowing what was there. With Superchargers, we know whether it is a 70, 150, or 250 kW station. We know how many stalls it has, and how many are available at that moment. They are currently changing the system to show estimated wait times if all stalls are full, but we haven't needed that feature yet.

Tesla doesn't show how many stalls are pull through, but that is available on line through non-Tesla groups like the Tesla forums, with a wiki listing all the Supercharger sites. It will be better when that info moves to the Tesla data stream because it will be able to tell us, just for example, that there are 12 stalls, 8 are available at that moment, and 4 of those eight are pull through.
So what kind of camper are you towing? You say “you are looking” on your profile. So you must not have been towing if you are going 80 mph (130km/hr) and you slowed to 62mph. Frankly having to slow down 18 mph to make sure you get to your next stop is babying it.

And when I tow I never go through gymnastics to find gas. No slowing down. No long waits. Never have to wait more than 5 minutes to get a pump, and it takes me 5 minutes to fill a 36 gallon tank that will take 350 miles towing a 28’ Airstream.

Your stories are not convincing.
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Old 12-04-2023, 12:25 AM   #16
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So what kind of camper are you towing? You say “you are looking” on your profile. So you must not have been towing if you are going 80 mph (130km/hr) and you slowed to 62mph. Frankly having to slow down 18 mph to make sure you get to your next stop is babying it.

And when I tow I never go through gymnastics to find gas. No slowing down. No long waits. Never have to wait more than 5 minutes to get a pump, and it takes me 5 minutes to fill a 36 gallon tank that will take 350 miles towing a 28’ Airstream.

Your stories are not convincing.
I wasn't towing when I was doing 130 and slowed to 110. The speed limit was 120 so it didn't seem like much of a hardship. I didn't in fact continue at 110, which is not 62, it is 68. I use 100 (62) as my limit when towing. I took the option of pulling into a nearby Supercharger, charging for less than 10 minutes, and carrying on.

I last towed three weeks ago. It isn't possible to customize the message on my user profile, so I just left it as just looking. That has nothing to do with EV tow vehicle range, however.
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Old 12-04-2023, 06:51 AM   #17
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Let me start off by saying I do think, eventually, electric will be commonplace and I have been driving a PHEV for nearly 12 years now with well over 100k all electric miles driven. When I saw this thread I couldn't help but feel, here we go again.

Honestly, although this is a warm feel good type thread for the die hard out here on the bleeding edge, the reality is that these questions about numbers at this point, for most, are simply rhetorical. I've seen the real world tests when towing and they just about cut the range in half. For daily non-towing driving, these make sense, sort of. I say sort of because you do pay a premium, sort of like going the diesel route vs gasser- you can buy a heck of a lot of gas for the price difference, and let's not even get into the significant hit in range this time of year in cold(er) climates. For the past 12 years, I've seen this first hand. Towing when below 50 degrees, today, good luck getting 150 miles of range towing unless there is some ungodly number of batteries (read higher cost) to get back up near 200 miles (towing) and for me, even though I am pro electric, for most, the numbers at this point just don't make any sense and let me add, even if they did, Tesla is the only manufacturer that has a robust and accessible charging infrastructure. A lot of the others rely on a slew of public chargers, which if you've had any electric exp at all, you know the public chargers are hit or miss. Though that kind of hit or miss may be ok for a commuter vehicle, it gets downright uncomfortable hundreds or thousands of miles from home with 2-5 tons of RV behind you and about 150-175 miles of range, let alone being in a fairly rural area.

I think that the Chevy Volt, Chrysler Pacifica plug in hybrids are on the right path in terms of bridging the gap between ICE and pure EV. In fact, Dodge is also getting onto the bandwagon with a plugin hybrid that from the info that is available seems fairly impressive. Mind you that an even 4-5mpg increase can be significant.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46...er-248122.html

This also fits with what Bob Lutz said a few years ago. If you recall, Bob Lutz was put in charge of GMs PHEV development.

"We started at the wrong end. The whole automotive industry made the intellectual mistake of thinking EVs were all about maximum range, so we all started with small vehicles that are basically very economical anyway. Yes, you do save fuel. You can use a smaller battery, but it makes less sense to take a 40 mpg vehicle and make it electric than it does to take a full-size pickup or SUV, which in town realistically gets 11 to 12 mpg. If you take that to 100 mpg, now you’re really saving money and saving a scarce natural resource and reducing CO2 emissions drastically."

I think Bob was spot on, the only problem, back around 2015 when he said that, you'd have been hard pressed to find many wanting to pony up an additional $15k-$20k on top of the high price of the SUV/truck lines. Case in point, the GM SUV e-assist. Didn't sell well and came with a steep price over the standard and was killed off. Today, that may make a bit more sense with price per battery kWh continuing to fall. With Dodge getting into PHEV, I suspect we'll find out just how successful it may or may not be, but the timing here is critical given the solid state/more dense batteries may arrive by the time this Dodge PHEV arrives.

In my humble opinion, talking range while towing with a pure EV today is a nice exercise for a select few on the bleeding edge and may have some benefit, but it really starts to make more sense for a larger group of folks when the solid state, more dense batteries are out there and at a price point that is reasonable. At that point, current miles per charge will nearly double and top off times for larger or more dense batteries take either the same or less time to charge. For now, even as a pro electric individual, this is a niche conversation.
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Old 12-04-2023, 09:41 AM   #18
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Re trailer friendly charge facilities. It is happening but rather slowly and those that have trailer friendly stalls tend to be more geared to little trailers like us. We have seen the occasional larger trailer stall but this is more the size we find. This is us at a station in Lillooet BC. Right beside a Tim Hortons though. Nice.

By the way, that is an electric Harley Davidson charging on the other stall.

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Old 12-04-2023, 10:10 AM   #19
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For me, as long as the CT can provide me 195 miles of range, that would be 65mph at 3hrs, which would be good enough. My bladder only lasts about 2hrs or so anyway.

Everyone is so hung up on range, I wouldn't and couldn't sit for more than 300 miles of driving. That is NOT enjoyable. There's that aspect to consider.

When looking at EVs, don't get hung up with all the range details, consider your limit and your passenger/family, would they want to sit for 300 miles?

Our lifestyle is supposed to be enjoying the open road. Enjoying the journey.

Secondly, most people who chime in on these EV topics, don't own one, have never been on one, just regurgitate whatever they heard or read.
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Old 12-04-2023, 10:39 AM   #20
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For me, as long as the CT can provide me 195 miles of range, that would be 65mph at 3hrs, which would be good enough. My bladder only lasts about 2hrs or so anyway.

Everyone is so hung up on range, I wouldn't and couldn't sit for more than 300 miles of driving. That is NOT enjoyable. There's that aspect to consider.

When looking at EVs, don't get hung up with all the range details, consider your limit and your passenger/family, would they want to sit for 300 miles?

Our lifestyle is supposed to be enjoying the open road. Enjoying the journey.

Secondly, most people who chime in on these EV topics, don't own one, have never been on one, just regurgitate whatever they heard or read.
I would think 195 miles would be easy with the cybertruck with the aux pack towing a medium sized airstream. . Its estimated EPA range not towing is 470 miles.
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