Caravan holidays are very popular in the UK, as caravans and caravan sites become more advanced and comfortable. It can be a great way of seeing the country and travelling with family or friends.
With the growing range of EVs, it is also becoming possible to go on driving holidays in EVs without the same range anxiety from the past. That said, one may wonder if these two pursuits can be combined.
Intuitively, electric vehicles should be perfect for towing a caravan or trailer. Without the same delay in pulling power that occurs in traditionally fuelled engines, they should be able to more efficiently and at a lower cost.
That said, most EVs currently on the market are not certified for towing for several reasons. We would like to discuss why this is the case and give recommendations on which EVs are most suitable for towing.
How is Towing Capacity Measured?
Every car will have a legal towing limit agreed during the manufacturing process, known as homologation. The two figures most worth considering are the maximum weight limits for towing an unbraked trailer and a braked trailer. Most cars will have these either in the owner’s manual or published on the manufacturer website. If not, this often means that the vehicle is not suitable for towing.
Can I Tow a Caravan with an Electric Car?
Towed caravans can weight anything between 800kg to 1800 kg. A generally accepted rule is that your caravan weight should not exceed the weight of your car with a full tank of fuel and a driver. However, in practice it is recommended to keep the caravan weight below 85% of this value.
These calculations apply for traditionally fuelled vehicles but there are extra measures which must be taken when considering towing in an EV. As a rule of thumb, we recommend towing only the maximum weight in the user manual or avoiding completely if this does not exist.
Why are EVs Worse at Towing?
There are several reasons why electric cars aren’t recommended to tow caravans, but the biggest one is to do with something called ‘type approval’. Newly manufactured vehicles brought to market must be type approved. At this juncture, manufacturers must decide whether the vehicle can be approved for towing purposes and most EVs do not receive this certification.
The first reason for this is that most EVs are heavier than traditionally fuelled cars as they carry large, heavy batteries. For example, the petrol Jaguar F-Pace weighs around 1,800 kg but the electric Jaguar I-Pace weighs over 2,000 kg. As such, any additional weight from a caravan or trailer would create too much burden on an electric engine and, in particular, the brakes.
Furthermore, most modern electric cars have regenerative braking, a system that converts kinetic energy into a version that can be stored for future use. As this is not a traditional braking system, it is calibrated only to the braking force needed for the vehicle itself and any extra weight added by a caravan could overwhelm onboard electronics.
This does not mean that no EV can tow a caravan or trailer, either now or in the future. Manufacturers are working hard to develop technology which can allow regenerative braking for varied weights. That said, there are several EVs on the market currently that can tow.
The Tesla Model X, for example, has a specific ‘trailer mode’ which switches off driver-assistance and allows for single wheel braking if sway is detected. Here are a few examples of common EVs and their towing capacities.
|Electric Vehicle||Certified to Tow?||Maximum Tow Weight|
|Tesla Model X||Yes||2,270kg|
A Consideration for Range
Another issue that regularly rears its head in the EV world is range. The very nature of caravanning implies long drives and potentially remote destinations. Having additional weight attached to the vehicle will naturally reduce its range and lead to a greater reliance on public charging destinations.
Can a Hybrid Tow a Caravan?
Plug-in hybrids use a combination of combustion and electric technology and so the problem of towing is much less pronounced. For example, the Volkswagen Golf GTE can pull up to 750kg unbraked and 1,500kg braked. For such a small vehicle, it punches well above its weight.
The hybrid with the highest pulling capability is the Porsche’s Cayenne S E-Hybrid. This model can tow up to 3,500kg braked, the maximum weight that can be legally towed in the UK (by a vehicle that is not an HGV).
Can an Electric Car be Towed?
It is not recommended that your EV be towed in the same way as other vehicles. Both hybrids and electric cars should be placed on a flatbed trailer as soon as possible to avoid damaging the electrics from the electricity generated by the traction motor.
Some EVs can be towed with the front wheels lifted but this is also limited to a short distance. If in any doubt, your owner’s manual should contain more info, or you can contact your dealership.
If you are an EV owner or prospective owner and would like to know more about life with an EV, please get in touch. A member of our technical team would be happy to answer any questions that you have.