Four Electric Trucks Race Across The South & Southwest

Four Electric Trucks Race Across The South Southwest

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Recently, a number of popular EV guys from YouTube took a trip across the United States in four electric trucks to see whose truck would get across the South and Southwest first. The Cybertruck, of course, would rely on Tesla’s Superchargers. The F-150 Lightning was able to play on either team, either natively at Electrify America or at Superchargers via an adapter. But, at the time of the race, the Rivian and the Chevy Silverado EV were stuck with CCS networks only.

You might think that the Cybertruck would win hands down, but the Silverado’s massive battery pack and 350 kW peak charging  is a force to be reckoned with. By taking full advantage of the greater speeds theoretically available at many EA stations, the result was far from predictable at the beginning.

This is a long video, and it’s only Part 1! But it was a fun video and is worth at least skimming if you don’t have the time. Or, you can read on below the video where I’ll summarize some of the highlights.

Not long into the video, they introduce the trucks. The Silverado is a Hertz rental, and it has about 180 kWh of useable battery pack. It has dual motors (and thus AWD), a range of almost 400 miles, 350 kW, and on a fairly flat charging curve. The battery was so big that the hotel’s Level 2 wasn’t able to top it up overnight! So, they needed to take it to a nearby L3 station to get it up to 100% like all of the others.

The next competitor is a Ford F-150 Lightning. It’s a 2023, so it doesn’t have the heat pump. Useable energy storage on tap is 131 kWh. The charging curve is flat all the way up to 80%, so it makes sense to go ahead and charge it to 80% every time. This made it very competitive with the Cybertruck in another video where they raced it to Florida from New Jersey. At the time of the video, it was the only truck that could use Superchargers that wasn’t a Tesla.

The Rivian R1T couldn’t use a Supercharger at the time of the race. Useable capacity is 135 kWh new and probably 130 once they got some miles on it, and they put it in the lowest suspension setting in conserve mode to maximize range. It’s the only truck with access to the Rivian Adventure Network (as of the time of the video — this is supposed to change in 2024).

The last one is the Tesla Cybertruck. It has 123-124 useable kWh of storage. Like the F150, it can use just about any charger you get it up to, with the exception of the Rivian Adventure Network, but the vehicle doesn’t yet support the CCS charging adapter. So it’s stuck with only Supercharger for this race, but it has access to V2 supercharger locations in places where the Ford will need to use Electrify America or another network. It’s the second fastest peak speed truck.

The Race

The race is from Florida to California along the I-10 corridor, coast to coast. This isn’t a cannonball race as much as a truck comparison, so they set max speed at 10 MPH over the posted limit.

The Silverado got stuck in traffic behind the other trucks initially because they filmed the departure of the other trucks. Everyone jumped on I-10 and got up to highway speeds, and then started optimizing their route and speed. The Cybertruck’s team tried to avoid V2 chargers going through Florida, while the Silverado team debated vehicle efficiency science and then used manual calculations in conjunction with Google Maps (yikes!). Team Rivian tried to draft a trailer to get better efficiency for the first stretch of road, while the Ford’s team tried to optimize using the built-in Ford software.

Once out of Jacksonville, everyone basically set the cruise and tried to keep a steady speed. This left three of the trucks in a close pack while the Silverado EV was minutes behind. Even going 80 mph, they managed to get about 2.3 miles/kWh. The team in the Cybertruck aimed to arrive as dead as possible.

At the first stop, the Cybertruck got some slightly better charging speeds, and the F-150 had to join them there to avoid a busy Electrify America stop. The Cybertruck left earlier (much higher charging speeds), putting it ahead. The Silverado team chose to charge early to gain energy rather than lose it during a bad rainstorm. The Rivian ran ahead of everybody, but it seemed like that might be a bad strategy.

The trucks then headed through the rest of Florida. After the Rivian stopped to charge, the Silverado pulled into first place, and was headed for an EA station. The Cybertruck made its second stop at 1%, and initially had some trouble getting a charging session started. The Silverado only then reached its first stop, and they decided to not head to the Bucc-ee’s station others planned to go to due to a bad Plugshare check-in. The Cybertruck was finding that it was getting just under 2 miles/kWh.

The Cybertruck left Florida first and headed into the panhandle or bootheel of Alabama. The Silverado EV got into Alabama next, and the Rivian was stuck at an EA station. All four trucks were pretty much in the same area at that point. Because the Cybertruck gets maximum speeds out of the Superchargers, Kyle chose to stay toward the bottom of the pack as much as possible, even if that meant more charging stops. The Rivian team arrived right after the Cybertruck left the Bucc-ee’s. Then, the F-150 charged up at the Bucc-ee’s, but at the Mercedes-Benz station.

By the end of the video, the Silverado ended up in the lead thanks to fast charging and fewer stops.

Sadly, that’s the end of the video, as this was a long, long trip and they went across the whole bottom end of the United States. So, we’ll have to give Out of Spec some time to edit all of the hours of footage they undoubtedly collected during such a long trip with four different teams that were all recording!  I’ll be sure to recap the videos here as they come out, for people who can’t or don’t want to watch the videos.

What This Will Probably Come Down To

One big thing is that the Silverado team does seem to be getting a big advantage so far. The big question is whether an Electrify America letdown could put them in a bad spot and let the Cybertruck get the lead. Last year, that was probably guaranteed to happen at least once, but Electrify America has been putting in new power modules and the stations really do seem to be improving. So, it’s going to be close!

Featured image: a screenshot from the embedded video.

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