Thursday, August 6, 2020
Features Is It Possible to Tow with An Electric Vehicle?

Is It Possible to Tow with An Electric Vehicle?

Here's why electric vehicles can't tow over long distances.

  • Electric vehicles can now have a range of over 600 kilometres;

  • The range is heavily affected when towing.

Electric vehicles are multiplying in numbers and availability on the market. Incidentally, so their abilities and range also continue to grow. Whereas it was normal to expect 200 km of range 7 or 8 years ago, 400 km 2 or 3 years ago, we are now looking at 500 and 600 km of freedom.

This increase in capacity has given rise to a latent question among many consumers: will we finally be able to tow with electric vehicles? The answer is yes, but there are important nuances. They will help you understand why electric vehicles do not yet have a good reputation when it comes to towing.

Technically speaking

Based on the figures presented for certain electric vehicles, it appears that they are/will be capable of performing towing tasks. Take Tesla’s Model X for example, which is rated at 5,000 pounds. If it can definitely do the job, the big question is what will be its energy consumption and the consequence on the range.

Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained addressed this issue by simulating a very specific towing operation; a 160 km climb with a 1% slope, taking travelers to an altitude of 1000 feet for a camping trip. At a speed of 120 km/h, he estimated that 100.4 kWh of energy would be required. However, with a full battery, the Model X’s capacity is 100 kWh. By reducing the speed to 97 km/h, the demand drops to 84 kWh, making the trip possible.

Initially, the Model X (Long Range) offers a range of 528 km. We’re talking about a very significant drop due to the rear-mounted load. In the case of the future Tesla Cybertruck, the size of the largest battery would reach 200 kWh, which will allow more range. At Rivian, where the first models are expected around the end of the year, the battery size is expected to reach 180 kWh.

And what about the all-new upcoming GMC Hummer, which was scheduled to make its debut in May, but was delayed due to the coronavirus? It too will offer a capacity of 200 kWh. In fact, in the Hummer’s case, GMC is announcing 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of torque. At both GM and Tesla (Cybertruck), we’re looking at a minimum towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, while at the top of the range, the figures announced are 11,000 pounds at GM and 14,000 at Tesla.

The problem, clearly, is not one of capacity, but of energy. If 100 to 200 kWh batteries allow very appreciable autonomies when the vehicle is not fully loaded, they would have to be more powerful to allow 400 or 500 km while towing. For the moment, however, it’s all a question of density. To sum it up simply, when the day comes when it will be possible to increase power to 1,000 kWh without increasing the physical size of the battery pack, we will have solved the problem of autonomy while towing. Other technologies and approaches are also to be expected, which could quickly change the situation.


GMC HUMMER EV Logo | Photo: GM

The good news is that EV technology is evolving at the speed of light. What’s true today probably won’t be true in a few years when GM, Ford, Tesla, Rivian, and others will offer us electric pick-up trucks.

In the meantime, if you want to get an electric vehicle that offers some towing capacity, you can do so, but its range will suffer heavily. The worst-case scenario is that charging on the way to your vacation spot will be necessary.

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