Not every electric car can tow a caravan, but there are plenty that will. In fact, the instant torque of an electric motor makes towing a breeze.
Hitching up a caravan to an electric car is as easy as hitching up a diesel car, and you don’t need to change the way you drive.
Towing distance for an electric vehicle depends on the weight of the load and the terrain. Heavier loads and hilly routes will reduce range more than light loads on flat roads. However, even heavy caravans can be towed successfully with an EV by planning charging stops along the journey.
The electric revolution is inevitable, with sales of new diesel and petrol cars banned from 2030, and sales of plug-in hybrids banned from 2035.
As more people adopt electric cars, people’s ambitions increase and one of the expectations today is that electric cars should be able to tow.
The good news is electric cars can tow, providing they are rated to do so. This article covers everything you need to know about electric cars and caravan towing.
What electric car can pull a caravan?
To pull a caravan, an electric car requires type approval for towing, to ensure it meets specified performance standards set by the automotive EC Directives.
Without type approval, towing with an electric car is illegal.
Any electric car with type approval can pull a caravan or trailer up to the vehicle’s maximum braked towing capacity, which is rated in kilograms or tonnes.
Providing your car has type approval, then you also need a type-approved tow bar. Your vehicle manufacturer probably offers one as an accessory.
You should never pull a caravan with an electric car without type approval because the vehicle is not designed or rated to tow.
Are electric cars good for towing?
Electric cars are better suited to towing than petrol or diesel cars because their electric motors produce instant torque at any speed.
As you probably know, towing requires torque. Without sufficient torque, it is impossible to haul a trailer or caravan that weighs a fair bit.
Electric motors are a revelation for caravan towing because torque is available at 0 RPM. The torque delivery makes towing easier. Also, electric motors produce more torque than comparable diesel engines, relative to their size.
So, how good are electric cars at towing caravans? Very. They take less time to get up to speed and the instant torque ensures a smooth drive.
Towing and the impact on range
Towing with an electric car impacts range a lot because the electric motor has to work much harder (it is towing another vehicle, after all).
How much does towing impact electric car range? It slashes it by around half. The best way to illustrate this is with a few examples.
YouTuber Tesla Canuck hitched a 3,500lb (1,587kg) boat to his Tesla Model Y and drove 100-miles. His Model Y returned 45% efficiency over the journey, which means his range took a hit of 55%. In other words, he lost over half his range.
In another example, VW ID Talk forum member Helenabus hitched a 2,150lb (975kg) trailer to his VW ID.4. On a 56 mile round trip, he achieved an efficiency of 2.1 mi/kWh. On the same route without the trailer, he achieved 4.0 mi/kWh.
In both cases, the range was slashed by around half.
The general consensus is you can expect a 40% to 50% range hit when towing a caravan, but this also depends on the climate and driving style.
If you have a 300-mile range electric car, this isn’t a problem, but if you are travelling very long distances it probably means more charging stops.
Best electric cars for towing a caravan
The “best” electric car for towing is the one with the biggest towing capacity. That crown goes to the BMW iX with its 2,500kg braked towing capacity.
However, there are plenty more to choose from:
- Tesla Model X – 2,268kg
- Audi e-tron – 1,800kg
- Mercedes EQC & EQA – 1,800kg
- Kia EV6 – 1,600kg
- Hyundai IONIQ 5 (large battery) – 1,600kg
- Polestar 2 – 1,500kg
- VW ID.4 – 1,200kg
- Skoda Enyaq – 1,200kg
- Vauxhall Vivaro e-Life – 1,000kg
- Peugeot e-Traveller – 1,000kg
- Citroen e-SpaceTourer – 1,000kg
Somewhat surprisingly, not all of these are SUVs. The Polestar 2, Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 are all hatchbacks.
Charging your electric car at your destination
Towing a caravan with an electric car means accepting your range will take a hit and you’ll probably need to charge at your destination.
When you get to the campsite, it might have a few EV chargers you can use (these will be 3.6kW to 7.4kW) or a Commando socket to plug into.
The slowest way to charge is with a 3-pin plug. These are often freely available at campsites and will add around 8-miles of range per hour.
If you do go caravanning with your electric car, book a campsite with EV chargers so you can top up quickly. It makes life a lot easier.
You can also plan your route and charge along the way. Zap-Map is useful for this, but your EV might have connected navigation for that.
Don’t forget to make your electric car tow-legal
The law states you must be able to see clearly 4 metres wide from the side of your caravan at a distance of 20 metres behind the driver.
In simple terms, you probably need to use towing mirrors that cover your blind spot.
Towing mirrors for caravanning are a cheap and simple modification to get your electric car tow-legal. Milenco Aero mirrors have a good reputation.
Before setting off, you should also check your tyres pressures. If there are no manufacturer towing recommendations, set the pressure of your rear car tyres at full load pressure plus an additional 4 to 6 PSI to improve stability.