One of the most anticipated questions before last night’s Tesla Cybertruck unveiling was: How Much Can the Tesla Cybertruck Tow? We now know there are three answers. The single motor RWD variant of the truck can tow 7,500 pounds. The dual motor AWD version can tow 10,000 pounds and the beast of the bunch – the tri motor AWD build – can tow 14,000 pounds.
But what does all this mean? What weighs that much? How does the Tesla Cybertruck tow capacity compare to today’s best selling pickup trucks? Let’s explore.
The Society of Automotive Engineers International, SAE International for short, is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries, according to their website. Born from a time when automobiles were getting their start, this trade group is now a major force in promoting, developing, and advancing aerospace, commercial vehicle, and automotive engineering. SAE publishes standards that are in use across the automotive industry, including the J1772 that any electric vehicle owner in North America has heard of.
J2807 – Performance Requirements for Determining Tow-Vehicle GCWR and TWR
This standard sets a minimum performance rating at GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) and the method to calculate TWR (Trailer Wright Rating) for cars and trucks up to 14,000 pounds GVWR (the weight of a vehicle in operation.) Before this standard was adopted, vehicle manufacturers could basically cook up and claim any towing capacity they could manufacture under a specific set of conditions. Ford’s EV truck prototype towing over a million pounds comes to mind. This video from Engineering Explained goes into details about this standard, I include to illustrate that we really are comparing apples to apples when discussing published towing capacities:
During the presentation, Tesla flashed a graphic outlining specs for each of the three truck builds. This included payload and tow rating. Here is a summary of that information for easy comparison. To understand what all these numbers mean in the real world, here are examples of things that each could theoretically tow.
Single Motor RWD – 7,500 pounds
This variety is a great option for those want to tow small trailers or small and medium boats. I’m considering small and medium boats to be those with a dry weight of up to 5,500 pounds. This leaves some wiggle room to account for the weight of trailer, fuel, etc. For context, boats with a dry weight of up to 5,500 pounds include:
- 24′ Malibu Wakesetter ski boat
- 32′ Thunder Cat performance speed boat
- Most deck or pontoon boats
- 27′ C&C sailboat
- Most bass/fishing boats
- Two personal watercrafts, known as jet skis
There are many occasions to tow things other than boats; here are some examples that the Single Motor RWD Cybertruck can easily handle:
- 12′ open trailer carrying motorcycles, ATVs, or landscaping equipment
- Hard-sided popup trailer that sleeps 7
- 24′ travel trailer
- U-Haul 6′ x 12′ enclosed cargo trailer, filled to capacity
- 15′ horse trailer, with 2 large horses
Dual Motor AWD – 10,500 pounds
I suspect many future Cybertruck owners will choose this model for its dual motor all wheel drive build. For those that do, here’s an idea of what it could tow:
- Anything mentioned above
- Bayliner 285sb 28′ bowrider boat with 2 private staterooms
- 3 cubic yards of dirt in a landscape trailer
- Large travel trailer that sleeps up to 10
Tri Motor AWD – 14,00 pounds
For those who want it all: range, power and the max tow capacity, the Tri Motor AWD build has you covered. Because of the elusive 500 mile benchmark for range that no production EV has ever achieved, there will definitively be a market for this vehicle. Folks driving this beast have a wide range of things within towing capacity:
- Anything mentioned above
- Rinker 32′ cabin cruiser mini yacht
- 20′ enclosed trailer hauling a race car
- Keystone Carbon 337 35′ toy-hauler fifth wheel trailer
- KZ Durango Gold G385FLF 42′ luxury fifth wheel trailer
Other pickup trucks
Now that you know how much a Tesla Cybertruck can tow, let’s compare to currently available, gasoline or diesel-powered pickup trucks in a similar class.
The three top-selling truck brands in the US have something in common with the Cybertruck: options. While F-150 is the banner, there are at least 6 engine builds to choose from. On this 2019 F-150 spec sheet, you can see that towing capacity ranges are roughly in line with the Cybertruck. Ford also makes trucks outside the F-150 lineup with more serious towing capacity. The SuperDuty trucks can tow well over 20,000 pounds. For sake of comparison, the below list sticks with the F-150 lineup in particular.
- 3.3 L Ti-VCT V6 ~ 7,700 pounds max. towing
- 5.0 L Ti-VCT V8/3.0 L Turbo Diesel V6 ~ 11,500 pounds max. towing
- 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 ~ 13,200 pounds max. towing
GMC offers many flavors of pickup truck, from the Canyon to the Sierra. Excluding the heavy duty options to keep the comparison in line with the F-150, GMC’s towing capacity is similar, but slightly behind both Tesla and Ford at the high end but like Ford is ahead at the lower end:
- Canyon ~ 7,700 pounds max. towing
- Sierra 1500 Limited ~ 9,400 pounds max. towing
- Sierra 1500 ~ 12,200 pounds max. towing
Also in the top three of current pickup trucks by sales, the RAM line has two vehicles dubbed 1500 and several heavy duty varieties. The 1500 line falls in the middle of the pack when comparing tow capacity with the others in this comparison.
- RAM 150 Classic ~ 10,760 pounds max. towing
- All-New 2019 RAM 1500 ~ 12,500
When the question is “How much can the Tesla Cybertruck Tow?” the answer should be “As much as you need it to,” provided your needs are all but the most heavy duty needs. Unless of course you’re talking to a skeptic or die-hard Ford/Ram/GMC truck fan. In that case, your answer should be “More than an F-150/1500/Sierra.”