The Rivian R1T Shows That Electric Midsize Pickups Are the Next Big Thing

Automakers scramble to sell as many full-size pickup trucks as possible before they feel the squeeze. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard (CAFE) moves to 39 mpg in 2026, making it difficult for half-ton trucks to meet these numbers. This is possibly why we see new EV trucks coming to the market ahead of this change. Will some of these new electric pickups enter the midsize category to compete with the Rivian R1T?

Currently, the Rivian R1T is the only electric midsize pickup truck

Orange 2022 Rivian R1T pickup truck, which has a 3-second 0-60 mph acceleration time, driving up a hill
2022 Rivian R1T | Rivian

Yes, this newcomer to the market shows up sitting between the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado in size. Considering the current market of midsize trucks are similar in size to the full-size models of the 1990s, we see that everything has gotten bigger in the auto market.

Towing made better in the smaller trucks

This Rivian R1T Towing a Heavy Trailer can handle up to 11,000 pounds
Rivian R1T Towing a Heavy Trailer | Rivian

An EV platform isn’t limited like an internal combustion engine. Rivian offers an electric powertrain with more towing power than the Ford F-150 Lightning. To be exact, the Lighting can pull up to 10,000 pounds, while the RIvian R1T tows up to 11,000 pounds in a trailer. Could this lead to the movement toward smaller trucks with better tow ratings than their larger siblings?

What midsize electric pickups are following the Rivian R1T?

According to AutoWeek, nearly every midsize and small truck will offer an EV variant in the new future. In fact, 2026 will bring electric versions of:

  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon
  • Kia and Hyundai pickups
  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Tacoma

The next electric trucks to arrive are the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the Ram 1500 EV, but then we should see the midsize models arrive. It’s possible the Toyota Tundra will see an electric version before 2026, but that isn’t confirmed.

The challenge of towing with an electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning Towing an Airstream
Ford F-150 Lightning Towing an Airstream | Ford

Using a new Ford F-150 Lightning, Electrek tested this truck and its towing power. With a 23-foot Airstream trailer attached, this truck easily pulled the weight. The challenge wasn’t in the towing capacity but in the amount of range lost while towing. During this test, the truck lost about half of its driving range.

Why is this driving range loss significant?

It’s not a secret that when any truck pulls a trailer, the efficiency of that vehicle drops. The added weight and increased wind resistance cause the vehicle to lose fuel mileage quickly. The problem for an electric truck lies in the charging time. With a gasoline or diesel-powered truck, filling up takes less than 30 minutes, but an EV takes much longer, creating serious delays during travel.

Will the Rivian R1T usher in the movement toward midsize electric pickups?

The movement toward these smaller electric trucks is already happening. The Rivian R1T simply proves that you don’t need a full-size truck to have the desired power. The R1T offers a similar driving range (314 miles) as the Ford F-150 Lightning (230-320 miles), and it tows more weight.

With the requirements of CAFE 2026 looming in the not-so-distant future, it’s important for automakers to offer EV versions of their trucks and SUVs. The landscape of midsize trucks is about to change, giving us electric versions of our favorite pickups.

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