With their powerful electric motors and instant torque, electric vehicles should make the perfect vehicles for towing. But have you ever wondered why EVs manufacturers don’t give a towing capacity for their cars?
Well, many electric vehicles are still plagued by short-range and heavy curb weight. These factors make it hard for them to receive towing type approval.
However, as the sales of electric cars continue to rise, automakers are becoming more ambitious, now being able to manufacture EVs with a decent towing capacity.
So, can electric cars tow a caravan? Read on to find out what you can expect.
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What is a Towing Capacity?
Towing capacity is the maximum weight that a car is capable of pulling when towing. There are two types of towing capacities.
Braked Towing Capacity – This refers to the maximum weight a car can tow when whatever it’s towing has its own brakes.
Unbraked Towing Capacity – It’s the maximum weight a car can tow when whatever it’s towing doesn’t have its own brakes.
Braked towing capacity is usually higher than unbraked towing capacity since the car can pull more weight safely because of the trailer’s braking system.
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Is An Electric Car Suitable for Towing a Caravan?
Towing requires low-engine-speed muscle, also known as torque. Electric vehicles produce maximum torque from a stop, and it delivers maximum torque all the time, meaning there’s no need for gears. This means that an electric vehicle can tow a caravan from stop, and it can overtake, switch lanes, and drive on country roads much easier than petrol or diesel cars.
However, to tow a caravan, an electric vehicle needs to be fairly weighted. I.e., not too heavy or too light.
When an EV is too heavy, adding extra mass to the already hefty curb weight puts the car in danger of overstressing the braking and transmission systems. The combined weight can come up to over 9,000 pounds which requires considerable mechanical strengthening.
When the EV is light, it cannot manage the weight of a caravan which can weigh between 800-1300Kgs. A light car is easily overpowered by a heavy caravan when accelerating, stopping, or cornering.
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A major hindrance for towing with an electric car is the reduction in range. This depends on the car’s efficiency, how aerodynamic it is, and the caravan’s weight. The consensus is that towing reduces the distance it can travel by 50%.
As much as the range is reduced, you also need the vehicle to have a fast charging/supercharging rate. The weight combined with the range stops many electric vehicles from towing approval.
That’s why the best electric cars for towing are designed for long-range driving. A pure electric like the Tesla Model X is ideal for towing a caravan. With a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, a 100kWh battery, and a real-world range of 275 miles without towing, you can drive a considerable distance before recharging.
Hybrids are commonly used for towing. This is because they combine battery packs alongside an internal combustion engine. The best ones for towing a caravan include the Toyota RAV 4 self-charging hybrid with a 1650kg towing capacity and the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid with a 3500kg towing capacity.
Finally, electric vehicles have an advantage over ICE cars when towing a caravan, thanks to their regenerative brakes. A towing vehicle needs excellent brakes, so the car doesn’t take long to stop. They use the electric motor as well as conventional brakes to slow the car down.
When towing a caravan, you need lots of energy. This reduces distance per charge in an electric car, something that’s already giving drivers range anxiety. That’s why towing isn’t a priority for electric vehicles. If you are into towing, it’s best to choose a long-range electric vehicle.
We hope this post answers the question; can electric cars tow a caravan?
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.