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Where I come from, trucks are only as good as what they can tow. Ok, that’s not true at all, but it sounds cool. The truth is most popular pickup trucks can’t tow all that much. However, the new Rivian R1T – the fanciest pickup truck in the universe – made headlines recently for towing something way above its pay grade. Watch this Rivian R1T tow a semi-truck out of a ditch. 

How much can a Rivian R1T tow? 

The monstrously torquey Rivian R1T is rated to tow 11,000 lbs, says Rivian. However, with some gusto, badass recovery gear, and some luck, a Rivian R1T pulled a 38,000-lb semi-truck and trailer back onto the road after running off into the snow in southern Utah. 

How did this electric pickup truck pull so much weight?

Rivian R1T tows Semi-truck out of a ditch.
Rivian R1T towing semi | YouTube: Mylo Fowler

MotorTrend reports that the electric pickup truck’s owner, Mylo, wisely set about the recovery process with a Factor 55 tree saver. He wrapped the off-road recovery line around the semi’s rear impact guard. Next up to bat was his Factor 55 soft shackle, which he used to connect his tree saver to the kinetic recovery rope. The other end was attached to the Rivian using a second soft shackle. 

As MotorTrend points out, this is one hell of a recovery rig. For those who don’t speak off-roader, this is a smart setup proving Mylo’s off-roading know-how. 

After taking the slack out of the line, Mylo gave the semi a little tug, but the first attempt didn’t do much but spin tires. The Rivian even ended up in the same ditch as the big rig. Fail. 

But when the traffic cleared, Mylo decided to give it another go, and this time he gave it both barrels. Mylo’s electric pickup truck gave the tow rope one hell of a tug and out-jumped the semi-truck from its snowy ditch. Amazingly, the Rivian’s nearly 1,000 lb-ft of torque pulled the tractor-trailer back to the road – all 38,000 lbs of it. 

How was this off-road recovery possible? 

2022 Rivian
2022 Rivian R1T pickup | Rivian

As noted by MotorTrend, the Rivian used its immediately expressive torque to give the semi-truck one hell of a jolt off the jump, but the Rivian’s power wasn’t enough on its own. The kinetic recovery ropes were the second and almost equally important part of this story’s success. 

These recovery ropes work by transferring all of the Rivian’s torque into energy that uses its momentum to move the big truck. The rope loads the energy from the puling truck and stores it briefly before transferring the force directly to the other truck. This method wastes very little energy. 

To be clear, this was very dangerous 

While Rivian will undoubtedly use this story as bragging rights for some time to come, as they should, this off-road recovery was sketchy, to say the least. MotorTrend says that if the semi had been fully loaded, this recovery might have tripled the max weight of the kinetic ropes. When you put this much strain on a line, you risk that line snapping. However, when lines with that much energy snap, the energy doesn’t disappear. It has to go somewhere. Breaking lines have the very real potential to be quite dangerous. 

We are certainly glad to see Mylo’s slick recovery went well.