As established automakers and startups rush to bring more electric pickup trucks to the market, there’s one segment where ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles still lack proper EV competition, namely the Heavy Duty side of the market. One of the companies working to change this is Canada’s Magna International and we can now see how its fully electrified 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD AT4 prototype stacks up against the standard, 6.6L Gas V8-powered model.
The comparison spreads beyond the drag race mentioned in the title, since it also takes the driving experience into account. And while the straight-line battle takes place on partially dry asphalt, the rest of the comparo sees the two trucks being manhandled on snow.
This is a first-hand experience delivered by the bed enthusiasts over at TFL Truck, who recently attended a testing session organized by Magna.
EV vs. Gas Heavy Duty Truck Comparison
We’ll start by mentioning that the 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD’s 6.6L N/A gas V8 delivers 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, while sending power to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic tranny.
Please note that the vehicle comes in the AT4 off-road-friendly trim. One of the most important features of the AT4 involves the tires, which are the most generous you can get on such a truck. Speaking of which, both trucks featured identical tires, namely Hankook Dynapro MT2 units.
As for the Sierra 2500 HD EV, this Magna prototype aims to maintain the factory setup, frame and suspension included, while introducing an eBeam electric rear axle and an eDS electric front motor—the motors come with a combined peak output of 540-580 hp.
Tipping the scales at around 7,000 lbs, the battery-powered GMC Sierra 2500 HD is some 500 lbs meatier than its gas V8 counterpart.
The truck, which packs an 85 kWh battery, promises to offer payload and towing abilities that are similar to the factory unit (think: up to 3,500 lbs and 14,500 lbs, respectively).
However, its driving range of around 350 miles will considerably drop if the vehicle is tasked with serious hauling. This is due to the energy density limitation of the current battery technology, which is the reason behind the Heavy Duty truck segment lacking EV offerings.
As mentioned in the video, while Magna doesn’t produce battery cells, the company makes battery enclosures for units up to 180 kWh. Back in February 2021, the company announced it would open a new facility in St. Clair, Michigan, which would make battery enclosures for the 2022 GMC Hummer EV, which sports GM’s Ultium batteries. With production expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2022. the said $70M investment is expected to see Magna also serving other Ultium-powered EVs.
Meanwhile, the hardware present on this truck is the EtelligentForce BEV Powertrain Solution, which is set to enter production 2025, probably with a more capable battery capacity.
The drag race was more of a slaughter
If skipping straight to the drag race is what you desire, you should know this awaits you at the 11:51 timestamp. And since you might wish to know the 0-60 mph time of the EV Sierra HD, we’ll mention this packs a sportscar-worthy 4.6 seconds.