If you are considering a new towing vehicle, you may be wondering if it is possible or practical to tow a caravan with an electric car. While it can be done, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of towing a caravan with an electric car, including the power and capacity considerations, which electric cars are best suited for towing, and how far an electric car can tow a caravan. We will also look at the future of caravanning with electric vehicles and the importance of recharging. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of towing a caravan with an electric car.
Electric Vehicles & Towing - What's The Story?
Are you looking to tow a caravan with an electric car? If so, you will be wise to take time researching options before making your choice. The current state of electric vehicles and their towing capacities means that many - especially earlier entries into the market - are not yet capable of handling a caravan. However, there are an increasing number of models that are suitable for this task. Here, we will outline the advantages and disadvantages of towing a caravan with an electric car and recommend safety protocols for tackling range anxiety.
When it comes to electric vehicles and their towing capacities, the majority of them fall into two categories: Those that can tow and those that can't! Tesla is one EV manufacturer that has accounted for the needs of caravanners - the popular Tesla Model 3 has a towing capacity of up to 1000kg depending on the specific version whilst the larger Tesla Model X can have a capacity of up to 2250kg, with the Model Y sitting between the two with a model-dependant capacity of up to 1600kg.
Whilst the number of electric cars that can tow a caravan is increasing as manufacturers continue to develop the battery and motor technology, many electric vehicles which look like traditional towcars such as the Peugeot e-2008 electric SUV is at the time of writing, not approved for towing. So it is very important to ask the vehicle dealership about towing capabilities before committing to buying an electric car for towing.
Why Can't Some Electric Vehicles Tow?
There can be several reasons why a particular model of electric vehicle isn't capable of towing caravans, trailers, horseboxes or other loads. If the vehicle manufacturer has not approved the vehicle for towing under Whole Vehicle Type Approval then the car must not be used for towing under any circumstances - even if a towbar is available!
The UK Government states, “Vehicle Type Approval is the confirmation that production samples of a type of vehicle, vehicle system, component or separate technical unit will meet specified performance standards.”
The approval is on a specific-model basis so just because a towbar is available for the range, a particular model in the range might not be approved to tow. When any new vehicle is released onto the market, it must be submitted for approval for towing. In many cases, electric vehicles did not gain or were not submitted for, approval. There are a number of reasons why approval for towing may not have been granted or an application submitted. Especially in the earlier days of EV manufacture and the race to market, the focus may have been on development for mass-market use, with towing seen as a niche requirement.
- Motor Strain
The extra weight of the trailer or caravan behind the car would increase the total weight and the demand on the electric motors. The motors used may simply not be up to the extra load.
- Braking Ability
With EV's already being heavier than their equivalent size internal combustion engine counterparts, the brakes must work harder to slow and stop the vehicle, putting the braking system under strain and possibly overheating by stopping an extra weight
- Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking on electric cars is designed to put wasted energy from braking back into the car's battery to help to maximise the range on a charge. The system is based on the expected weight of the vehicle - adding extra weight if the electronics and software in the control unit is not built to adapt to this could cause overload in the vehicle's electronic systems.
Whilst range may not be a reason on its own not to approve a vehicle for towing it is a concern. Towing with a smaller electric car may reduce the range significantly to make travelling any distance difficult
What are the Benefits of Towing with an Electric Vehicle?
One major advantage of using an electric car for towing is the lower emissions than traditional petrol or diesel cars. This means that they have lower environmental effects when driving long distances – something that is especially important if you're travelling with your family or group of friends on holiday.
Another is the increasing amount of Clean Air Zones. Many cities are imposing clean air zones with a ban or charge on certain vehicles travelling within congested parts of the city and town centres. Whilst the specifics of these are on a city-by-city basis and many focus on older or the heaviest polluting vehicles, it seems likely that a progression may be made to newer private cars with petrol or diesel engines. After 2030 in the UK a ban on the sale of new conventional engined cars and vans will force a move to electric vehicles, with hybrids set to be banned 5 years later in 2035
The powerful torque from the electric motor is ideal for pulling away with a load, or hill climbing and with no need for gears - so there's no need for the increased amount of gear shifting in hilly areas, making for a much more relaxed drive. Similarly for overtaking when necessary, the motor produces maximum torque for acceleration without the downshifting required in a conventional engine and gearbox. With an EV, you will see the torque rating in Newton Metres (Nm) at a given RPM given alongside the traditional Horsepower (hp). As a general rule, the higher the torque at the lowest RPM, the more capable the car should be of towing comfortably.
So to sum up, you are ideally looking for a car with a maximum braked trailer weight that will pull your laden caravan, with a high torque (Nm) figure at low RPM for the best choice of electric car within your budget.
Downsides of Electric Cars for Towing
There are some drawbacks associated with using an electric car for towing, mostly to do with the power and capacity considerations.
When it comes to power, an electric car needs enough juice to tow the weight of the caravan and any additional accessories that may be attached. It's important to remember that not all electric cars are created equal when it comes to this particular task – some require more power than others. If you're shopping for an electric car specifically for this purpose, be sure to ask about its power capacity and its range when towing, before making your purchase.
Increased Cost per Mile
With the current energy price increases, the cost per mile of running an electric car can be more expensive than a petrol car for long journeys, especially when using fast charge points at a premium cost. When taking into account the lower range when towing a caravan, this can make the outright cost per mile travelled notably more expensive
Charger Time & Availability in Remote Areas
One of the best parts of caravanning is carrying your home with you to remote and beautiful parts of the country, or indeed, the world. Long-distance caravanning can be quite daunting in remote areas because of the lower range together with a lack of charging stations available at the roadside.
If you need to stop to charge, the length of your stop will depend on the rate of the charging point. If you need to charge from near empty to full, you may need a stop of up to 2 hours on a 50kW rapid charger or up to 11 hours on a 7kw Fast charger. The exact times for charging and the range of a full charge depends on the model of EV you drive
What Electric Cars Are Best Suited To Towing A Caravan?
If you're thinking of towing a caravan with your own vehicle, it's important to be aware of the UK legal requirements. While not all electric cars are eligible to tow a caravan, there are several models that are. The weight capacities of different electric cars will vary, but an increasing number are able to handle the weight of a small or medium-sized caravan.
When choosing an electric car for towing, it's important to consider factors such as battery life and charging time. You also need to consider safety features such as breakaway connections and hill start assist. Additionally, some models may give additional safety features for towing, such as low-speed assist or front collision warning systems.
Once you have chosen the perfect electric car for your needs, it's important to follow recommended safety guidelines when towing a caravan with it. This includes keeping speeds low and following all traffic laws. Remember that an electric car is still a vehicle, and like any other vehicle on the road, must be treated with caution.
Overall, using an electric car for towing can be a great option because of the many advantages over traditional vehicles when it comes to carrying loads. By following safety guidelines and selecting the right car for your needs, you can ensure a smooth journey ahead!
Some currently popular electric towcars include, in no particular order of ranking:
- Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo has long been a trusted brand when it comes to towing and with the XC40 Recharge they apply many of the same qualities that make the brand a favourite into their EV offering.
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
Looking very much like the muscular conventional engined SUV offerings, Hyundai's Ioniq 5 offers a larger 73kWh battery for increased range.
- Kia EV6
With a 1600kg towing capacity across all versions, a large 77.4kWh battery and compatibility with ultra-rapid-chargers, this model from Kia shows clear intent to deal with range and charging concerns.
- Audi E-tron
A larger SUV from Audi with plenty of boot space, the E-tron has an 1800kg towing capacity with air suspension all-round that is a dream for handling with a caravan in tow - in a comfortable size for the family and all the camping accoutrements.
- Tesla Model S
Not everyone wants a larger SUV as their towing vehicle, the Model S is a regular-sized family electric car that can tow.
The Future Of Caravanning With Electric Vehicles
More models from more manufacturers are being introduced and developed as time goes on, as we prepare for the 2030 ban on new internal combustion vehicle sales so the list of options is sure to grow significantly. Alongside the increasing number of EV's on the road, we should see an increase in charging stations to meet the growing demand, lowering concerns about being able to charge, and how long a charging stop will take.
The technology and prevalence of electric cars on the road have moved forwards a lot in the past 5 years, and the next 5 years look to continue this trend as we prepare for electric vehicles to be the new normal.
Looking further into the future the situation may well reverse, with fuel stations becoming fewer in number and concerns about where to fill up an older fuel-burning vehicle taking over from charging worries.
Towsure are continuing to support the new vehicles entering the market with towbars for Tesla and other electric vehicles supplied and fitted along with the necessary wiring and towing electric packs.