Why Your Electric Vehicle Mileage May Vary (a Lot)

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman charging her electric vehicle
Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com

One of the drawbacks of driving an electric car is that the range it can travel before recharging is limited. And unfortunately, you can make the problem much worse if you weigh down your vehicle.

Take the Ford F-150 Lightning. AAA Automotive Engineering researchers recently tested the electric version of the vehicle and discovered that when they loaded it down with sandbags weighing a total of 1,400 pounds, the range dropped 24.5%, from 278 miles to 210 miles.

In a summary of the findings, Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering, says:

“Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it’s important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity. Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction.”

AAA also points out that all types of vehicles — including gas-powered cars — see their driving range fall when they are weighed down. That is because the car needs more energy to move the extra weight.

Still, the gas-powered F-150 has better range than its electric cousin, getting more than 500 miles per tank when it’s unloaded. And gas-powered vehicles perform more efficiently at highway speeds than in the cities, which is not true of their electric counterparts.

For such reasons, AAA says buyers who worry about the range of an EV “should consider the driving they will be doing and choose the right vehicle for their needs.”

Which type of vehicle — electric or gas-powered — should you buy? The place where you live might help determine the answer. For more, check out “The 5 Best and 5 Worst Places for Electric Vehicles.”

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.