Can electric cars tow caravans?

Fast read

Electric vehicles (EVs) may be capable of pulling heavy loads. However, it depends on the model and manufacturer.

A tow ball is not an option on most EVs, while some models, like the Tesla Model X, have a high towing capacity. The efficiency of the vehicle's range when towing will likewise be reduced.

Although EVs can tow, there aren't many charging stations that can easily handle larger trailers, so long-distance towing may not be feasible if one has not organised the various suitable charging points beforehand.

It is anticipated that more EV vehicles with greater towing capacities will be offered on the market in the future.

Is my electric car able to tow a caravan or other items?

In May 2019, the Australian prime Minister, Scott Morrison, claimed that electric cars could not tow very well. However, various articles and motoring commentator opinion pieces later found the claim needing “a tune-up” as that statement was not wholly correct.

Even after more than three years, the Morrison claim remains frequently cited, especially with the ongoing release of numerous new SUVs and Utes in the latest electric car range. So what are the facts – are electric cars ready to tow?

The answer is a definite YES, a strong maybe and a clear NO. Are you confused? Join the club.

The answer in 2023/24 and beyond

In 2023 an electric car can make a perfect towing vehicle; it depends on the manufacturer and model.

When using a trailer or caravan with an EV, drivers with a towing capacity have found that the drive experience is quite like that of a regular petrol or diesel car. Acceleration is still powerful, and once the vehicle is moving, the car drives quite comfortably.

One issue with towing something whilst using your electric car is that you go through a lot more charge, and drivers can expect their range to drop by as much as 50%, depending on the weight and wind resistance of the trailer. Driving a petrol car will also mean higher fuel consumption during towing, but while filling a petrol tank only takes a few minutes, that extra kWh battery consumption due to the trailer is more inconvenient in an EV, given the current relatively low penetration of charging stations around Australia.

Nevertheless, this situation is expected to improve very shortly; this particular issue is temporary.

If you were going on a long road trip, this current fact means you require more and longer pit stops to charge an electric car than a petrol or diesel vehicle.

However, if you are using the trailer for work and only driving in and around your local area, not wholly exhausting your car’s charge, an EV might work well for you.

This is especially true if you have a home battery set up and your home charger is large enough to fully charge your battery overnight.

electric vehicle towing a heavy load which is a plane glider
Some good-quality EVs can still tow more than you’d expect

So which electric car model can tow? 

Regarding what model electric cars can tow, your options in 2023 are still a bit restricted as most do not offer a tow ball as an option.

When writing this FAQ, there are 9 electric car models with an option of a tow ball. All these models offer a large span of towing capabilities, with the largest currently being that of the Tesla Model X has a tow rating of 2250kg.

There are some serious towing heavyweights in the EV market, with the Ford F-150 Pick-up having the ability to tow 4500kg, the Silverado EV, which is rumoured to have the towing capabilities of up to 9000kg and, of course, the Tesla Cybertruck, which was mysteriously removed as on order option from the Australian website in May 2022.

But seriously, and unfortunately, none of these models has made it into the Australian and New Zealand market yet. So the answer to the question is YES, EVs do have the ability to tow.

However, at this stage, using your electric car for towing reduces your range efficiency, and manufacturers offer limited available EV models.

What about a tow from Sydney to Perth?

So a tow to the local boat ramp is a thumping YES, while a trip from Sydney to Perth is more of a MAYBE.

Also, finding charging stations accommodating a larger trailer is not always easy, so the answer is still a MAYBE.

Suppose you are looking for an electric vehicle that can tow in a small electric car model range right now. In that case, we recommend holding off until more options become available to the Australian market. So the answer right now – especially if you are looking at one of the cheaper EVs like the Nissan Leaf – is NO.

I think we gave you a clear answer to this question, which is YES, No and MAYBE…

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