Can you tow a caravan with an electric car?

Can you tow a caravan with an electric car?

Can you tow a caravan with an electric car?
26 May 2021

As sales of electric cars keep raising, so do the expectations of EV buyers. Until not long ago, electric cars were seen as useful mainly for those short local trips but not much more. Now, when more UK cities introduce Clean Air Zones, the London ULEZ expanding and with the ban on combustion engines approaching, electric cars are becoming not only a choice but a must for many drivers however, that puts more pressure on the EV manufacturers. The new owners of fully electric cars expect to travel further and to be able to use them the same way they'd use petrol or diesel, which in many cases include towing a caravan, horsebox or heavy trailer. The question is...

Can electric cars tow a caravan? 

With their instant torque and powerful motors, you would expect the EVs and hybrids to pull heavy loads effortlessly so the answer to our question is 'technically, yes'. Unfortunately, only a very few electric and hybrid cars are able to tow and it's not because you're not physically able to attach a tow. What are the reasons then?

Homologation (type approval)

Every car has to pass through homologation before it's even launched. Homologation is a process of testing allowing relevant authorities to ensure the vehicle meets all the requirements to be registered and used on the road. This also includes being fit for towing if the manufacturer requests type approval which, at present, most electric cars manufacturers have not sought for.  

Driving range

With a caravan in tow, the battery has to work harder which would mean a reduction in the vehicle's driving range and while it can be disappointing for caravan lovers, towing is not a priority for EV manufacturers. 

Tip: if you lease an electric car capable of towing your caravan, please check your vehicle's manufacturer guideline for an accurate mileage range. For long journeys, we'd recommend using apps such as PlugShare or Zap-Map to help you find charging points along the way.

EV mass

Batteries are heavy, which means that many electric cars weigh more than their petrol or diesel version.  For example, a petrol Volvo XC40  weighs approx. 1,655kg, while the same car but electric model weighs around 533kg more. If you add anything extra to the already heavy kerb weight, there's a high risk of over-stressing brakes and transmission. The hybrid version weighs 1,800kg but adding a caravan gives the combined weight of approx 3 tonnes and for this combination to work, solid mechanical strengthening would be required. 

What electric cars can tow a caravan?

While many electric cars can't tow, there are some that can do the job and even more will be available as buyers switch to EVs. Are you wondering which electric cars can tow a caravan?   Here are our top 10 cars you can lease to pull the caravan:

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla's Model 3 towing capacity has been recently increased taking it to 1-tonne. It's an impressive figure to look at but in reality, it's just enough to pull a small caravan or medium trailer, even with the most powerful Tesla 3 Performance model. When leasing or buying, expect an extra £1,000 for a tow bar itself. If you're looking for a second-hand Tesla Model 3 to use for towing, you need to look for one that has the tow bar already fitted as it can only be done at the factory and can't be added later on. A bit painful, to be honest!

Audi Q4 E-Tron / Skoda Enyaq / Volkswagen ID 4

The Volkswagen Group has been at the forefront of electric vehicle design with the new MEB EV platform. The German automaker has been a master of spinning different models of the same platform since the MK4 Golf of the late-1990s. The three-car trio shares this MEB EV platform, which features an outrigger motor driving the rear wheels. This provides both AWD and the ability to have a low centre of gravity for efficiency and handling purposes. All of these family crossovers have the same choice of two motor and battery outputs with the most powerful 201bhp and 77kWh option, giving you just over 300 miles of range. Whichever you choose out of these three, you'll get 1,000kg towing capacity. Better news for second-hand buyers here though, a pop-out towbar can be dealer-fitted. 

Later this year, a more powerful, twin motor four-wheel version is expected, each with an increased towing capacity of 1,200kg. Great news!

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 looks quite stunning, but it is more than just a pretty face. Beneath its angular exterior, the Ioniq 5 can be fitted with the larger 73kWh battery pack and is capable of pulling up to 1600kg. This is comparable to many traditional ICE rivals on the market. Its high nose weight of 100kg allows you to fit a rack and carry up to 4 bicycles. 

Since its release in the US, the Hyundai Ioniq has been dominating the electric vehicle market and setting standards for affordable EVs. Ioniq is mainly praised for its premium cabin that was designed to be luxurious yet comfortable for all passengers. The car's handling and use of premium materials receive lots of compliments as well. 

Kia EV6

Using the same E-GMP platform as the Hyundai Ioniq, Kia EV6 is a bit more expensive and more powerful but offers exactly the same 1,6-tonne towing capacity. Featuring a large 77.4kWh battery, no EV6 models will struggle to pull this weight - from the 225bhp rear-wheel drive to the 577bhp GT (due 2022).  As with all the cars we're talking about here, a large load will significantly reduce its driving range however, an 800V charging system allows you to charge your EV6 from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. Wow! 

Mercedes-Benz EQA

The Mercedes EQA was the manufacturer's answer to Tesla and an entry point into electric motoring. For the first time, we are also getting a taste of what we can expect from the new Mercedes EQC. Both cars have the same towing capacity, even though the EQA is smaller. The entry-level, single-motor EQA 250 guise is capable of pulling 750kg. If you upgrade to the twin-motor four-wheel-drive EQA 300 4Matic or the EQA 350 4Matic, then the maximum capacity increases to 1800kg. That's more than enough for a large caravan. Currently, you can only get a factory-fitted powered towbar for £750. What we really like is the Trailer Assist function for the electronic stability programme, which gently applies individual brakes on the car to reduce any swaying of the trailer at speeds above 40mph.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

The newest electric EQC is a luxury Mercedes electric SUV that competes with the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace but if you were looking for more towing power then you’re likely to be disappointed hearing it's the same as the EQA's at 1,800kg.  It might be a bit confusing considering how powerful the EQC's twin motor is but its towing weight is 2,490kg, which is 385kg more compared to EQA. So what's better in a larger car then? Standard self-levelling air springs for the rear suspension is what goes in favour of the EQC model. It provides a towing platform that is levelled so you won't get that back on the ground and nose in the air look many towing cars get. The Mercedes EQC also offers a stability-enhancing Trailer Assist system, the same as his smaller brother, the Mercedes EQA.

Audi E-tron

Audi's latest model, the E-tron, is designed to be sleek and high-tech. But it has another important attribute - the towing capability of which Audi is very proud of.  To demonstrate this new capability, Audi strapped a 1.8-tonne trailer loaded with a vintage GM EV1 onto an E-tron 402bhp 55 Quattro for a publicity-drenched 500 mile trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas in the US. An average speed was 60mph however this doesn't include the time needed for recharging. As mentioned earlier, towing will reduce electric car's range and in this case, it dropped from 252 miles to just 100 miles. It's not too bad though. Worth adding that E-tron in all guises has the same 1,800kg towing capacity and everything is levelled thanks to the all-around air suspension. On top of that, the 660-litre boot can fit all your camping equipment, too. 

Tesla Model X

Our top best for towing electric car is Tesla Model X able to pull a whopping 2,268kg. This figure can't be beaten even by larger diesel SUVs, apart from the Land Rover Discovery with a towing capacity of 3,500kg.  Tesla Model X's impressive towing capacity allows you to attach a large twin-axle caravan but bear in mind the 360-mile range will be significantly reduced. With 800lb ft of instant torque at least you don't need to worry about heavy load affecting its performance.  Same as the Mercedes EQC and Audi E-tron, the Model X comes with air springs as standard, which makes attaching the caravan or trailer even easier. The air springs allow lowering or raising the height of the ride and keep everything levelled. If you're a fan of camping with your family, you'll also be pleased with the large boot and seven-seat capability. 

Electric or hybrid or plug-in hybrid car for towing?

Hybrid cars are a better choice for towing and this includes plug-in hybrids, too. Having a backup in form of the combustion engine, these cars don't have a mileage range limitation - you can simply switch to petrol or diesel once your battery is empty and it's much easier to stop at the garage to fill it up with traditional fuel. 

The best hybrid cars for towing a caravan

Since the manufacturers of hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars don't need to stress over the driving range that much, they are keener on type approval and as a result, there's a much bigger choice of towing hybrids. Toyota Prius and Toyota CH-R, for example, can tow 725kg. Go for the Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V Hybrid or Hyundai Ioniq and you'll be able to tow up to 750kg. If you're looking to tow a bit heavier caravans, the Kia Niro is able to pull a 1,300kg braked trailer, while the 4WD Toyota RAV4, Kia Sorento Hybrid, Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid and Hyundai Tuscon in both Hybrid and PHEV versions all manage an impressive 1,650kg. The best hybrid car for towing purposes is the Lexus RX 450h with its towing capability of 2-tonne. 
 

The best plug-in hybrid cars for towing

For those looking to pull really heavy loads, plug-in hybrids are the best answer. Kia Niro PHEV can pull the exact same 1.3-tonne as its hybrid sister and the same as Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV. Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV can manage braked trailed of 1,350kg however a very similar Kia Sorento PHEV beats it by 150kg offering the same 1,500kg towing capability as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. With the Volkswagen Golf GTE you'll be able to pull up to 1.6-tonne but if you want to tow even more weight, go for the Volkswagen V60 T8 Recharged or VW XC60 T8 Recharged, which can deal with up to 2,000kg or 2,100 respectively. The Audi Q7 TFSIe and Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge can both pull up to 2700kg but the top PHEV cars for towing purposes are the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid and Volkswagen Touareg R (coming soon) being able to handle braked trailers and caravans up to 3500kg - the maximum permitted for any car.

In an adventure, it's important to have the right gear

Towing a caravan is no exception! Caravanning is a great way to explore all that the world has to offer so when you're ready to hit the road, you want to be sure nothing will ruin it and finding the right tow car is crucial here. Caravan towing can be complicated; there are a lot of considerations that go into choosing the right tow car for your caravan and we hope this article helped you find one suitable for your towing needs. If you're not sure what car is best for towing your caravan, contact us and we'll help you find the right one.

 

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