The thrill of off-roading — racing through rugged terrain, powering up uncompromising rock faces, spewing mud, dust and sand as you accelerate across dunes or low-lying riverbeds — it takes guts, and power. And while those two factors haven’t been associated with electric vehicles (EV) in the past, things are changing.
In fact, innovation and advancements in the EV industry are proving that electric off-road vehicles will be the top choice for adventurers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Combining ruggedness and thoughtfulness, electric vehicles come with a number of features that make them better for off-roading than traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) cars:
EVs can deliver instant power
EVs demonstrate better control
EVs are less likely to break down
EVs have ability to power other appliances
Electric Vehicles Deliver Instant Power
Having battery-powered motors allows electric vehicles to apply max power virtually instantaneously. This gives electric vehicles an advantage over ICE cars, which must first rev up their engines. By not having to rev up, electric cars can gain better traction in loose terrain or more confidently scale steep surfaces.
When firing up an electric motor, there is no back force applied against the initial voltage. Without a counter force, all of the voltage goes into the vehicle’s torque, making electric vehicles feel extra zippy when you press on the accelerator. This max onset torque can be the extra little push needed to gain traction in loose or steep terrain.
Electric Vehicles Demonstrate Better Control
The weight of the battery packs in electric vehicles lowers the center of gravity for an EV. When pitched at an angle to hike up a steep incline, this lower center of gravity gives the vehicle a better chance of staying upright and not flipping.
The torque of an electric vehicle can also be controlled more quickly and with more precision in an EV vs in its ICE counterpart. When an electric vehicle recognizes that a tire has poor traction, it can quickly modify torque to allow the car to regain stability. Some electric vehicles even have multiple motors, allowing for traction control to operate independently for both front and rear axles, or even for each individual wheel. This independent wheel control is what allows the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck to perform its ‘tank turn’. And it is this ability for tight maneuvers and responsive traction that will give you an edge when crossing over loose ground or through complicated rocky areas.
Regenerative braking also offers a greater measure of control for off-road drivers. When traversing over steep and challenging terrain, the regenerative braking is comforting and convenient as it allows drivers to slow and control the vehicle by simply releasing the accelerator. This allows drivers to handle complex terrain while only using one pedal, as opposed to a conventional ICE car which would require constant use of both acceleration and brake.
Electric Vehicles Are Less Likely to Break Down
Simplicity is good. In the case of the EV powertrain, simplicity means it has fewer moving parts than the traditional ICE car. With 60% fewer components, the EV powertrain is less prone to mechanical breakdown. This is reassuring when off-roading out in the elements, where a mechanical failure can lead to unwanted downtime or being inconveniently (or dangerously) stranded.
Electric Vehicles Provide Power for Outdoor Fun
With formidable battery packs, electric vehicles can provide enough juice to run smaller appliances such as tools, lights, or stoves. This makes outdoor camping convenient, as you can enjoy the wonders of nature while holding onto the flexibility of keeping a well-lit site or preparing hardy stovetop meals.
The electric vehicles also run quiet. So you won’t be disturbing wildlife or fellow outdoorsmen as you drive through the environment.
Exciting Off Road Electric Vehicles Coming to Market
While there are some electric vehicles already on the market that have a suitable clearance to go off-roading, it is the near future that’s looking particularly bright for electric off road vehicles.
GMC Hummer EV — The Hummer EV will have two body styles. One will be an EV version of the iconic Hummer SUV and the other will be an electric pickup. Both versions come with an impressive amount of cargo space and features to win over off-road enthusiasts. Ability to raise air suspension to increase the vehicle’s clearance, flexibility of independently controlling all four wheels in crab walk mode so vehicle can move laterally to avoid tricky terrain, off-road intended regenerative braking to allow drivers to navigate steep grades while only managing one pedal, it is all here.
The first edition Hummer is slated for a 2022 release and is sure to excite every adventure seeker.
Rivian R1T — A startup automaker with an infusion of funding from Ford, Rivian is set to release its electric pickup this year. It will come packed with four electric motors, one for each wheel. This provides the weight needed for a low center of gravity, allows for precise and responsive traction control, and gives the electric pickup the ability to make impressively tight turns. The regenerative braking also offers the convenience of traversing steep grade by just applying and releasing the accelerator pedal.
The Rivian R1T packs 835-horsepower and 908 lb-ft of torque - astounding power for any vehicle.
The Ford F-150 Lightning — This vehicle is set to ride the electrification wave while still meeting the ruggedness that F-150 fans expect. The truck’s impressive clearance and waterproof encased battery allow for adventurous rides through low-lying rivers. The 360-degree cameras give the driver enhanced visibility to see the terrain even when the electric truck’s angle is too steep to see the path. The Lightning will also feature a number of specific modes, such as Sport Mode and Off-Road Mode, to fully leverage the truck’s torque and responsiveness.
The F-150 Lightning should be ready to drive mid-2022.
The future is bright for off-road enthusiasts. In the coming years, a number of electric off-road vehicles will hit the stage, giving drivers an attractive list of options to satisfy their adventurous side and let them take on the outdoors without compromising the health of the environment.
To learn more about electric vehicles, visit our Electric Vehicle Hub or EV FAQ page. You can also browse EVs by range, price and maintenance expenses in our Electric Vehicle Marketplace. If you live in Texas and you're looking for an EV energy plan, check out Rhythm Energy's plans today.