Thanks to a recent YouTube video, we got a first-hand account of how towing a travel trailer impacts the range of the Ford F-150 Lighting electric pickup truck. In that clip, the added weight of the trailer caused the F-150’s range to drop to less than a third of its typical performance, which was disappointing, to say the least. But recently, the team at Happier Camper conducted an electric range of their own, and their results were much more encouraging.
This time out, the tow vehicle of choice was a Rivian R1T electric pickup pulling a new Happier Camper HC1 Studio travel trailer. With regular day-to-day driving, the truck gets about 300 miles of range on a single charge, and when put into towing mode, that distance usually drops to half that number. The R1T’s onboard sensors and suspension automatically adjust to the added weight, tweaking performance, and range estimates to compensate.
The Happier Camper crew took the R1T and the HC1 Studio on a 90-mile road trip through the California mountains. Before setting out, they set their destination in the truck’s navigation system, which predicted how much battery life would remain after arriving at the campsite. That estimate proved spot on, with the remaining charge ending up exactly as expected.
On the return trip, however, the Rivian’s performance exceeded expectations. While descending from the mountains, the R1T’s regenerative braking system actually recharged the truck’s batteries, increasing its range as a result. And because that system works very differently from the brakes found in a gas-powered vehicle, there was no grinding of pads or a smell generated from overheating.
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It would be easy to look at these results and come to the conclusion that the Rivian R1T performs better while towing compared to the Ford F-150 Lightning. But much of the credit for this improved performance goes to the Happier Camper HC1 Studio. The trailer weighs just 1,800 pounds and has a streamlined shape that helps make towing more efficient—something that benefits electric and gas-powered vehicles. The HC1 Studio used in this range test was outfitted with a lift package and off-road tires, which gave it extra clearance and grip on off-road trails.
The Happier Camper squad lauded the R1T’s nearly-silent electric drivetrain, which allowed them to connect better with nature while riding. They also appreciated the truck’s built-in AC power outlets, which brought added convenience to the remote campsite. That includes powering an electric Truma fridge for cold drinks in the backcountry.
For further information on the HC1 Studio, visit the Happier Camper website.