Towing your caravan with your new EV might seem like a good idea, but would it damage your car?
Can I tow my caravan with an electric car? Most electric cars on the market today are at least technically capable of towing things from small trailers, to mount bicycle carriers, and some even caravans. In reality though, not EVERY EV can tow a caravan, and for good reason.
Can I tow my caravan with an electric car? It’s a question I’m regularly asked by people eager to know if their electric car can safely tow everything from small sporting trailers to tiny caravans, boats, or even hay for their horse.
After all, electric motors produced instant torque, especially at low speeds, and with torque being the thing you need when towing, surely electric cars are perfect for the job?
And in my 11 or so years of driving electric vehicles, I’ve seen electric cars tow everything from other electric cars, to horse boxes, canoes, and caravans. By now I think I’ve answered the “can you” part of the question with a resounding yes.
But as for the should you? Well, that takes a little more explaining, and it does depend on where you live in the world and what your attitude is to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
You see, while electric cars are capable of towing, the majority of plug-in cars on the market today except for cars like the Tesla Model X electric SUV, Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, and Volvo xc90 T8 plug-in hybrid, are sold with stern warnings from the manufacturer that the vehicle is not designed for towing, and as such, should not be fitted with a tow hitch.
Which Cars Can Tow By Weight?
|Tesla Model 3||2,270kg|
|Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid||680 kg|
|Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid||2,400kg|
|BMW X5 plug-in hybrid||2,700kg|
|Audi Q7 E-Tron||2,800kg|
|Volkswagen Golf GTE||1,500kg|
|Audi A3 E-Tron||1,600kg|
|Toyota Prius Hybrid||725kg|
In some markets like Europe, fitting a tow bar to a vehicle that’s not been type-approved to tow under the legislation, could not only get you in trouble with the local police if stopped but could also invalidate your vehicle insurance and vehicle warranty.
Not only that, the tow bar has to be type-approved too, so even if your vehicle is approved to tow you need to make sure that you buy and install a hitch that’s officially approved under European legislation to tow, and even then only use it for the purposes for which the hitch has been approved.
But this is especially important if your vehicle hasn’t been type-approved to tow, but there’s a hitch design just for mounting bicycle or cargo carriers for example.
Other parts of the world have less stringent regulations, meaning the question about towing is a little fuzzier. For example, in the US you can risk losing your vehicle warranty if it’s deemed that the thing you’re trying to claim on your warranty is a direct result of towing in a vehicle that wasn’t designed to.
But since warranty interpretation is often down to the individual making the claim, and the person of proving the claim, it’s a little hit and miss as to what will, and won’t be covered.
Since there’s an onus on the dealerships to prove that the modification in this case towing, was the cause of the warranty claim, your mileage may vary in terms of how successful you are.
But I should note, to date I’m not aware of any single warranty claim on any electric car that was refused because the car had a tow hitch fitted.
And here in the US, towing with electric cars isn’t exactly common, but it’s certainly not unheard of. Even though most automakers don’t encourage it, even though some automakers have shown their own vehicle towing.
So let’s assume you want to go ahead and get a hitch for your electric car, and it’s not one of the few plug-in models that come from the factory with towing available as an option.
Regardless of where you are, regardless of your intent, to actually tow with the vehicle, or simply use the tow hitch to mount all sorts of luggage carriers, you’ll want to make sure that you buy a good quality tow hitch that’s been specifically designed for your vehicle.
In the US one of the best places to buy such a hitch would be Torklift central from Washington state, known for its range over eco hitches for plug-in vehicles Torklift central offers a tow hitch option for pretty much every plug-in car on sale today.
And the designs all of its hitches to be robust, durable, and no-drill, meaning you won’t have any making holes in your car’s frame to install them.
While they are built to technically tow, it’s up to you, the owner, to decide if you want to actually tow with them or not.
If you’re a Chevy Bolt EV owner, GM even offers a class to tow hitch as an aftermarket add-on. Although, GM maintains that the car isn’t built to tow, and the hitch is just for cycle carriers and the like. I’ve actually got one fitted on my Chevy Bolt EV, and that’s all I use it for, and so far, it’s holding up great.
In Europe, brink sell tow hitches is designed for bicycle carriers and other cargo carriers, but unlike Torklift Central’s offerings, they’re not designed for towing.
Check out our detailed video on how to mount a Brink tow-bar to your EV.
Depending on your local regulations, you may also need a tow light package to be fitted to your EV so that you can correctly illuminate any carriers or trailers that obstruct your car’s taillight. Again, these regulations change from place to place so check before you hit the road.
Finally, if you do end up towing with your electric car, remember that the extra weight of the thing being towed will affect your vehicle’s overall efficiency and range and will make your car work harder on Hills.
You should adjust your driving accordingly, keeping to a slower top speed, and ensuring that you plan extra recharging stops along the way to make up for the reduced range.
And before I forget, while you can tow in some countries in the world with your standard car license, certain parts of the world like the UK for example, require you to take an additional driver’s test before you’re allowed to tow more than a garden trailer with your car.
So before you hit the road, make sure that you’re legal too.
Can I Tow With a Nissan Leaf?
Nissan recommends that under no circumstances should you tow any trailer with your Nissan Leaf. Unlike a conventional gas-powered engine the engine is connected permanently to the wheels.
When you slow down with an electric car the kinetic energy produces electricity to recharge the battery. If you have a trailer hitched to the back, the weight of the trailer pushed your car forwards which can cause severe damage to the electric motor.
Check out our in depth review on why the Tesla sucks at towing, not what you thought!!!