You can't argue with mathematics.
All along, it's been assumed that electric vehicles should make for remarkably capable vehicles for towing and hauling. After all, the electric motors used in modern EV powertrains tend to reach their peak torque rating from very low in the RPM range, meaning that EVs ought to have little difficulty getting massive loads rolling.
This is true, but there is one particular aspect of electric vehicles that could hamper their ability to be used routinely as towing vehicles: the energy density of their battery packs. Taking this into account, there is some question as to how well the Tesla Cybertruck will be able to perform in its intended role as a robust towing and hauling machine.
Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained broke the issue down in a recent YouTube video, using theory and mathematics to explore the issues inherent in using EVs for towing duty. Across a variety of hypothetical scenarios assuming different speeds and hill grades, Fenske compares the Tesla Model X with its 100-kWh battery pack and the Tesla Cybertruck with 200 kWh of capacity against America's best-selling truck: the Ford F-150.
The conclusion: no matter how you slice it, a Ford F-150 can tow the same mass far longer than either of the Teslas by virtue of its fuel source. A gallon of gas contains roughly 33 kWh of energy, so that a Ford F-150 with a full 23-gallon fuel tank has onboard about 775 kWh of total energy. That's nearly four times the energy within a 200 kWh battery pack, meaning the F-150 can afford to be substantially less efficient to get the job done.
How dire is the situation for the Teslas? According to Fenske, were a family to drive their Tesla Model X 100 miles up a one-percent grade at 75 mph with 500 pounds of payload, towing 5,000 pounds' worth of trailer mass, about 100.4 kWh of energy would be required. Notice that that's more charge than the Model X's 100-kWh battery pack can hold, meaning that the family would have to stop to recharge at some point on their journey.
Granted, there's a silver lining, and it's this: battery technology is improving constantly, and the Tesla Cybertruck's batteries in particular would only need to deliver two or three times the total capacity that they currently do in order to become much more viable long-distance towing vehicles. As EVs continue to see ever-wider adoption, it's only a matter of time before battery technology is able to reach that point.