Should You Tow a Heavy Trailer With Your EV?

When electric vehicles were first introduced, many people were concerned that they wouldn’t make an adequate replacement for the power that petrol and diesel engines make. However, with newly put regulations from the EPA and stricter emission laws, the days of burnt fumes and ICEs are limited.

As more and more car manufacturers launch electric vehicles, will they be as capable as traditionally petrol-powered ones?

Vehicles Capable of Towing and Their Capacities

A heavy trailer can weigh differently depending on what you’re hauling, though what’s certain is that you won’t be towing heavy equipment. Despite the common misconception, people don’t need trucks to tow. Most electric-powered SUVs on the market today are capable of towing around 5000lbs. This is a respectable amount of weight for most SUVs and is enough to justify the effort towing with an electric vehicle.

Tow capacities of vehicles are determined by the following formula: the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) minus the curb weight of the vehicle = tow rating. The GVWR refers to the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry, and curb weight is how much your car weighs.

An additional way to find your vehicle’s tow capacity is by referring to your owner’s manual. One thing to note, however, is something that is commonly overlooked when towing—the ability to stop. When your car was designed, it was designed to stop the weight of your car, not an additional 2000lbs.

Concept vehicles like the Tesla Cybertruck advertised a base tow capacity of 7,500lbs, or a whopping 14,000lbs tow capacity, depending on its battery pack. This is a highly respectable figure, even for a gasoline-powered vehicle. Down below is a list of common electric vehicles and their towing capacities.

  • Tesla Model X: 5000lbs
  • Audi E-Tron: 4000lbs
  • Tesla Model Y: 3500lbs
  • Nissan Leaf: 1500lbs

How to Select a Trailer Hitch

Towing with an electric vehicle is no different from towing with a traditionally fuel-powered vehicle. You need the proper equipment to ensure the safety of those around you and yourselves.

Tools you need:

  • Appropriate Class Hitch
  • Extended Mirrors
  • Light Harness Kit
  • Soldering Kit (optional)

It is important to have enough tongue weight on the hitch to prevent your vehicle from swaying on the highway when towing. This is achieved by moving the weight of your trailer to the front half of its axles, adding more tongue weight to the vehicle, and promoting overall weight distribution. There are weight distribution hitches designed specifically for this purpose to make it easier and safer. Depending on how much you are towing, you will need an upgraded hitch. These are differentiated by classes one through five.

  • Class 1 trailer hitches are best for cargo trays or hitch-mounted bike racks. These will commonly be paired with smaller sedans, as both capacities are capped at 2000lbs.
  • Alternatively, Class 2 hitches are slightly heavier duty and can be found on sedans and SUVs. These types of hitches are rated for 3500lbs and are good for boats and small campers.
  • Lastly, Class 3 trailer hitches are best for towing boats, campers, and trailers. These are generally rated for 5000+lbs, which is typically the highest tow capacity of any EV on the market today. Anything above Class 3 is not only inadvisable but typically unsupported by the chassis of your vehicle.

Should You Tow a Heavy Trailer With an EV?

As the saying goes, there is a time and place for everything. Towing with electric vehicles isn’t very popular yet, although, with further support for sustainable vehicles and more charging stations, the future may tell a different story. The additional weight translates to decreased range and efficiency.

For the average person, towing heavy will be at most a cargo trailer, which can be sufficiently towed by your EV SUV. Furthermore, even smaller sedans are capable of transporting items that cannot fit inside their cabin with a trailer. So could you tow heavy with an EV?

Absolutely. But should you?

While it may prove difficult, with proper planning for pit stops to recharge your EV and with the right tow hitch and weight balance, you can pull it off.

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