An Electric Overlanding Vehicle – I Really Don’t Think So

An Electric Overlanding Vehicle – I Really Don't Think So

Let me state right from the top that I am not an overlander. What I know about overlanding is the result of extensive research done to write posts like these. I have been doing it for several years now, so I think I’m fairly up to speed on what makes overlanders tick. That’s why I am not so convinced that an electric overlanding vehicle will ever become reality.

I mention the electric overlanding vehicle because I just finished reading a post promoting the Canoo electric truck as just that: the ideal overlanding vehicle of the future. The rather lengthy piece goes through every option the truck offers in great detail.

In fairness, I would not argue this truck’s status as the ideal overlanding vehicle if it came with an internal combustion engine. It is the electric motor and associated batteries that kill it for me. I suspect I am not the only one, either. I would be surprised if any overlanders invested tens of thousands of dollars in this truck.

The Secret to Overlanding

If you are not familiar with overlanding, it is a seriously different way to travel. Overlanding is all about the journey. Destination means very little. As such, your hard-core overlander – which is the very type of person one would expect to buy this truck – prefers traveling off road in locations normally unsuitable for factory cars and trucks.

The secret to overlanding is being completely self-sufficient for as long as you are out and about. Overlanders carry everything they need with them. They tie rooftop tents to their vehicles with Rollercam tie down straps. They bring portable stoves and propane for cooking. They even bring solar chargers to keep their electronic devices working.


Guess what else overlanders carry with them? Extra fuel. There aren’t any gas stations in the middle of the Utah wilderness. An overlander will bring enough fuel to cover the entire trip until he makes it back to the main highway. Therein lies the rub for the electric Canoo.

EV Battery Life Stinks

As much as modern society wants to embrace the EV, very few of us have done so for one fundamental reason: EV battery life stinks. A typical EV owner is lucky to get a couple of hundred miles out of a single charge. Then it takes several hours to recharge. EVs are practical for long road trips. Forget about using them for overlanding.

If you doubt my assessment, contact Ford CEO Jim Farley and ask if he would be willing to discuss his own road trip experience from earlier this summer. He took his company’s flagship F-150 Lightning pickup truck on a road trip across California only to be shocked by the results.

First of all, the Lightning’s range was terrible. Second, it took about 40 minutes just to charge the truck to 40%. But at 40%, Farley was looking at no more than 130 miles – and that is provided conditions were ideal.

Overlanders Can’t Afford to Be Stranded

One of the keys to successful overlanding is never being stranded. If you are driving in remote locations normally inaccessible to other types of vehicles, getting a tow truck to you is probably impossible. Therefore, overlanders cannot afford to be stranded.

Take an EV into the wilderness and that’s exactly what you’re risking. Until manufacturers fix the battery issue, overlanding will be off limits to the EV crowd. That is just the reality.

Maybe EV’s will be up to the challenge a decade from now. But as things stand today, I am willing to bet every overlander will choose an internal combustion engine over a battery-powered motor.

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