Towing with any automobile will substantially reduce its range. This is true for large gasoline and diesel pickup trucks, as well as for smaller gas SUVs, and even for semi-trucks. The reduction in range holds true when it comes to electric vehicles too.
However, there’s something worth discussing when it comes to EVs and towing because there’s recharging to consider. Whereas a gas or diesel vehicle can refuel in minutes at stations that are typically well within the range of the gas or diesel vehicle, the situation can be different when it comes to EVs. Perhaps this is why the topic of towing with EVs is always a popular one here at InsideEVs.
Take, for example, the Tesla Model Y Long Range fitted with 19-inch wheels. Its EPA-rated range is 330 miles but in real-world testing the actual range turns out to typically be quite a bit less. This is true of every Tesla we’ve range tested and has been pointed out by other trusted sources as well.
Turning our attention back to towing and looking specifically at the Model Y Long Range with 19-inch wheels, we came across a very detailed post on Reddit that sums up what you should expect when you hit the road with a trailer in tow.
To sum up the results, when towing a 5-foot by 8-foot U-Haul trailer with a dry weight of 950 pounds but loaded up with an additional 300 pounds of stuff, the Model Y consumed exactly twice the amount of energy to travel the same distance as that same Model Y minus the trailer.
The post on Reddit states:
Just finished my first trip towing in the Model Y on a 1,050-mile trip. I’ve taken this trip several times before without towing and seeing the difference is kinda sucky.
W/O towing 1 way: 15hrs ~350wh/mi
W/ Towing 1 way: 23.5hrs 700wh/mi
The Redditor goes on to state that for every 1 percent of battery charge, the vehicle could go about 1 mile with the trailer attached. That works out to a total range of about 100 miles at a speed of 65 miles per hour. The temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no noticeable wind and some effort was made to reduce the drain associated with the heating and cooling system (using only seat heaters and/or turning the fan speed down to low).
Quoting a portion of the Reddit post that describes how difficult the journey was:
There were about 3 times when I had to drop down to 55 mph in between the closest Superchargers in order to make it to the next stop, and even then I would arrive with 0% after charging to 99%. Those legs of the trip were about 100-112 miles.
So, we advise attempting no more than a 100-mile leg between charges when towing. Yes, a different trailer (heavier, double axle, more aerodynamic) would lead to slightly different range and consumption results, but those differences are minimal in the various tests we’ve observed.
On the upside, the Model Y had no issues towing. The Redditor says it handled the task “fantastically” and even notes that every aspect of Autopilot still worked, even though he had been led to believe otherwise. He concludes by saying “I’d limit my towing to local or in-state trips,” which is solid advice.
Though this post covers only the Model Y, from what we’ve observed, most EVs will lose a bit over half of their range when towing. And remember, this is half of the range that you were getting from your EV, not half of the sometimes inaccurate EPA range ratings.
Below are multiple videos of the Model Y towing different trailers. Each of the results are similar to what we’ve explained above.
In this video, a 4-foot by 8-foot enclosed U-Haul is towed by a 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range:
This video features a Tesla Model Y towing a travel trailer weighing in at just over 3,000 pounds:
Lastly, this video features a Tesla Model Y Long Range towing a boat over a long distance:
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