Electric Tow Cars – What Are Your Options Now (2019) and in the Future?

Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

As a small site owner, I often have discussions with our guests around tow vehicles. As you can imagine, a discussion which I’m now having more frequently is around the pros and cons of towing with an electric vehicle. From time to time we have a few hybrid tow cars which arrive, and even occasionally some pure electric vehicles. Currently, those pure electric vehicles are second cars, but moving forward we will start to see more electric tow cars.

As a family, we are already on the electric car bandwagon. We have a Nissan Leaf which I regularly use. However, its only a small electric car suitable for sort journies and it cant tow (legally). Therefore, we still have a diesel Nissan X-Trail for towing our caravan and trailers. In 2019, there are several hybrids and pure electric vehicles which are capable of towing, however, their generally quite expensive.

Electric Tow Cars
While electric tow cars are currently very niche, over the coming years more pure-electric cars will be available which can tow a caravan – Image: digitalautoguides.com

Most electric cars on the market today cannot tow a caravan, in fact, most can’t tow any trailer at all. But the range of electric cars on offer is changing rapidly. Within the next few years, there will be more (and more affordable) electric cars capable of towing a caravan.

So with this post, I thought I would discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of electric tow cars. I will briefly touch on some electric tow cars you can purchase today and those which be available in the near future. Finally, I will discuss a topic which I personally think about as a small caravan site owner which is the practicality and impacts of charging an electric tow car on a caravan site.

Hybrid Tow Cars for Caravans

There is a range of hybrid in both plugin and none plugin varieties available today which can tow a caravan. These are not pure electric vehicles as they still have an internal combustion engine. However, some do allow you to drive around 25 miles on pure electric power alone. But note, that pure electric mileage is not while towing. The general consensus currently appears to be whatever the pure electric range of a car is, it’s reduced by 50% while towing.

Lexus has been producing hybrid (non-plugin) tow vehicles for over a decade. However, in recent years the plugin hybrid car which has taken the attention when it comes towing caravans is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Below are two videos about the Outlander PHEV, one from Mitsubishi and one from Practical Caravan.

Mitshubishi promotional video on advantages of the Outland PHEV when towing a caravan.
Practical Caravan’s opinion of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for towing a caravan.

Limitations of the Outlander PHEV

Now, as stated above we as a family believe in the benefits of electric cars and we are also looking to upgrade in the future to an electric tow car. However, my personal opinion on the Outlander PHEV is that it does have notable limitations when it comes to towing a caravan.

Caravan Weight Limit

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a trailer weight limit of 1,500kg. This is 500kg down from the 2,000 kg limit of the diesel Outlander. When comparing the price of the PHEV for similar money a conventional petrol and diesel vehicle can be purchased which can tow 2,000kg, potentially even up to 2,500kg. Therefore, when consumers are comparing the capabilities of the car in like for like comparisons, this will be a notable difference.

Caravan Nose Weight Limit

Another notable difference between the Outlander PHEV and similar vehicles in its class is its caravan nose weight limit. The Outland PHEV has a nose weight limit of 75kg. This is 25kg down on the 100kg limit you get with the diesel Outlander. The reason for this is the additional weight over the rear axle of the car due to the battery and electric motor. It can be very difficult indeed to get the weight of the caravan down low enough to meet a nose weight limit of 75kg on all but the smallest caravans.

These two reductions in towing capacity and nose weight limit are one of the primary limitations of PHEVs. They are adaptions of conventional internal combustion vehicles. Therefore, they are not able to take advantage of the true benefits of cars designed from the ground up as pure electric vehicles. Which includes better weight distribution among other things.

Towing with a Pure Electric Tow Car in 2019

Now, if you want to quickly absorb some information about the practicalities and legal circumstances of towing with an electric car today I would encourage you to watch the quick video below from Transport Evolved. While this video was actually made in 2017 much of the points raised are still applicable to towing in 2019.

Whether an electric car can tow a trailer or caravan is a very different question to whether you can legally tow with an electric car.

Tongue Weights

In the UK when it comes to tow cars for caravans we refer to the weight placed on the cars tow hitch as the nose weight. When researching this post to find the nose weight capacities of different vehicals I was finding it very hard to find this information. The reason being a lot of the technical information on the cars towing capabilities comes from the US. Over in the US, they don’t refer to it as the nose weight, they refer to it as the ‘tongue weight’.

Caravan tongue weight is also the nose weight
In the US they refer to ‘tongue weight’, while in the UK we refer to ‘nose weight’ – Image: torklift.com

I just wanted to clear that up so you don’t run into the same issues yourself. As for some electric tow cars, trying to find UK specific information on towing is very difficult.

Pure Electric Tow Cars

So this page is as much about my own interest in keeping up with the latest electric cars which can potentially tow a caravan as it is an information resource. Therefore I hope to keep updating this page over time, adding new electric tow cars and detailing their capabilities when it comes to towing a caravan.

Tesla Model X (Available Now)

As stated at the start of this post, I along with other members of my family are fans of electric cars, and I did actually watch the Model X reveal online many years ago. I specifically remember the large Airstream caravan which the Model X towed onto the stage. That was the first time I had seen a pure electric tow car, nevermind one that could actually pull such a heavy caravan. However, today the only video I can seem to find on the Tesla YouTube channel about towing with the Model X isn’t exactly demonstrating the full capabilities of this car.

A quick guide on how to connect up the tow hitch on a Tesla Model X (it can actually tow a caravan up to 2250kg).

Tesla Model X Towing Specifications

  • Battery Size: 100kW (95kW usable)
  • Real World Range: 275 Miles (not towing)
  • Efficiency: 345wh/m
  • Towing Range: Typically between 100-150 Miles
  • Maxing Towing Capacity: 2250kg
  • Max Nose Weight: Over 200kg
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Power: 417HP, Torque: 487lb-ft
  • Kerb Weight: 2,459 to 2,487 kg
  • L: 5,052 mm, W: 1,999 mm, H: 1,684 mm
  • Data Source: EV-Database

Tesla Model X Reviews

I’m not a car reviewer, and I’ve only been a Tesla Model S before never an X. Therefore, if you want to learn more about the ins and outs of the Tesla Model X I’ve provided some links below.

However, few of them if any actually reference the towing capabilities of the Model X. Therefore I would recommend watching the video below from Bjørn Nyland who provides some excellent stats on the range while towing a caravan with a Tesla Model X.

This is pretty much the ‘go-to’ video on what the real-world electric range of a Tesla Model X is while towing different caravans and trailers.

As Bjørn discusses in the video, when it comes to towing with electric vehicles aerodynamics of the caravan is the key consideration, more so than weight. Furthermore, while the Tesla supercharger network is expansive, even around the UK it’s still a good idea to have charge adapters so you can charge at any type of public supercharger.

Tesla Model X Towing Pros and Cons

  • + Currently the most advanced user interface/navigation
  • + Significant range even while towing
  • + High towing capacity and nose weight limit
  • + Tesla supercharger network
  • – Very expensive
  • – Rear passenger door practicality and reliability

Jaguar I Pace

I wanted to reference the Jaguar I Pace because it’s a very popular electric vehicle and it surely has the impression it has the capabilities to tow a caravan. However, sadly this is not the case. As reported by insideevs, Jaguar CEO Ian Callum has stated towing “depletes ranges too much“.

Jaguar I Pace is a pure electric car not capable of towing a caravan
Unfortunately, the Jaguar I Pace is not capable of towing a caravan – Image: insideevs.com

However, some media outlets (WhatCar) are stating the Jaguar I Pace can tow, with a capacity of 750kg. So there does appear to be confusion about whether the I Pace has a towing capacity. However, even if it can tow 750kg, that’s not going to be sufficient for almost any caravan. You would be limited to camping trailers.

Chris - Site Manager

Hi, I’m Chris, I along with my father Robert we operate and maintain Horton Common.

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