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 and electric motorhomes.

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 journeys and it can’t 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, they’re generally quite expensive. But they are/will be getting cheaper.

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 noseweight. When researching this post to find the nose weight capacities of different vehicles 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.

Electric Tow Cars Range and Charging Rates

As I reference near the start of this post, the general consensus appears to be with an electric tow car whatever an electric cars ‘real world’ range is when it comes to towing you’ll achieve about 50% of that range. Now, that’s a very broad generalisation. It obviously depends on the efficiency of the individual electric car, how heavy the trailer/caravan is, how aerodynamic it is etc etc. But for the moment lets go along with the 50% rule.

Obviously, the range of the electric tow car is important but equally important is the rate of charge. Let’s say you are towing on the motorway/highway and you stop for a break and to charge up. As your range, while towing is cut in half you want to be able to get as much power as you can back into your electric tow car as quickly as possible. Therefore, besides just focusing on the range of the car you should also be paying close attention to the rate of charge while fast charging/supercharging.

The video below is by Bjørn Nyland who makes some of the most detailed videos currently available on what electric cars are truly capable of and their limitations. In this particuarly video he shows how fast four popular premium electric cars can charge from 10% to 80%. That includes the Audi e-Tron, Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X. All of these electric cars can tow (with varying capacities).

As you lose roughly half the range of an electric car while towing how fast they can charge is a significant factor in how viable they are as a tow car.

So as you can see the Audi e-Tron wins the charging race hands down. However, it is also the most ‘electron hungry’ of the four cars. Therefore you do have to factor that in before determining the e-Tron would be the best electric tow car of the four. You also have to bear in mind as of now (2019) is only really the Tesla which has wide availability for fast charging over 100kW. Most fast chargers here in the UK are still max 50kW, but the networks are slowly being upgraded.

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. The concept of towing with an electric car is still very ‘niche’ but there are a few people already trying it out:

Stumbled on this trio towing in Geiranger, MX, E Tron and EQC. from r/teslamotors

Tesla Model X (Available Now) – 2,250KG Towing Capacity

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

Tesla Model 3 (Available Now) – 910KG Towing Capacity

I must admit I do like the Tesla Model 3, and one day I would like to get one. However, I never thought of Tesla Model 3 as a tow car. While yes the Tesla Model X as referenced above can tow a 2250kg trailer/caravan, the Tesla Model S (which is bigger than the Model 3) has no towing capacity at all. Therefore, it was surprising to learn the Model 3 had any towing capacity. Now granted its not a lot at only 910kg compared to the Model X, but its something. At least it means that Tesla is recognising that consumers do want (and need) smaller more affordable electric cars that can tow.

If you want to see how the Tesla Model 3 performs while towing Bjørn Nyland (the same guy who did the Model X towing test above) has also tested towing with a Model 3 with some interesting results:

Bjørn Nyland as he often does goes into an amazing amount of detail on the towing capabilities of the Tesla Model 3 and in comparison on towing efficiency with his Model X.

Tesla Model 3 Tonge/Noseweight?

What is rather odd, no matter where I look on the Tesla website or other media outlets I cannot find what the noseweight (tongue weight) of the Tesla Model 3 actually is? Its obviously not going to be as the crazy figure of 200kg as it is for the Model X, but it would still be excellent to just have half of that. When I finally do find out I’ll update this section of the post.

Tesla Model 3 Tow Hitch Cost

On the Tesla website, the Tesla Model 3 tow hitch has a price of £910. Interestingly, currently (Summer 2019) this Tesla Model 3 tow hitch option is only available in Europe. Not sure why that’s the case, but hey, we normally get things after the US and not before. What is worth noting is that the Tesla website states:

“Tow hitch cannot be installed after delivery” Tesla.com

Again, I’m not sure why that’s the case, but if you were interested in buying a Tesla Model 3 from new and you want to keep the warranty on the car, better tick that tow hitch option. As with the Jaguar I Pace below, the Tesla Model 3’s towing capacity is going to struggle with even the lightest caravan. However, there are small camping trailers which you could potentially tow with the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Towing Specifications

  • Battery Size: 75kW (74kW usable)
  • Real World Range: 295 Miles (not towing)
  • Efficiency: 250wh/m
  • Towing Range: Typically between 100-150 Miles
  • Maxing Towing Capacity: 910kg
  • Max Nose Weight: Unknown
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Power: 346HP, Torque: 389lb-ft
  • Kerb Weight: 1,847 kg
  • L: 4,694 mm, W: 1,850 mm, H: 1,443 mm
  • Data Source: EV-Database

Tesla Model Y (Available 2020) – Unknown Towing Capacity

The Model Y will be Teslas ‘compact SUV’. Based on the Model 3 but it will larger and can seat 7. Now, Tesla state it can seat 7 buts its not as big as the Model X. So I would describe the Tesla Model X as being able to seat 7 adults and the Model Y being able to seat 5 adults and 2 kids. This car is not available as yet, therefore, there are no published ‘official’ towing capacities for this vehicle.

This is a quick summary of the Tesla Model Y reveal by WhatCar.

However, as its based on the Model 3 its reasonable to assume it will have some sort of towing capacity, at least that of 910kg to match the Model 3. This does appear to be the case as at the unveiling event some media outlets did notice the bumper cut out which must surely be for a tow hitch. Its worth noting as well if you watched Bjørn Nyland’s video above on the Model 3 tow hitch which sits directly under the bumper, access to the tow hitch on the Model Y looks to be much improved.

Tesla Model Y Tow Hitch
It would appear that the 2020 Tesla Model Y will come with a tow hitch option: Image – teslarati.com

Jaguar I Pace (Available Now) – 750kg Towing Capacity

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“.

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.

UPDATE O9/19: Well, apparently as you can see from the content below the Jaguar CEO must have changed his mind about towing because the I Pace has now even won a towing award! Albeit for very small trailers/caravans up to 750kg.

Jaguar I Pace is a pure electric car not capable of towing a caravan
It was originally stated by the Jaguar CEO that the I Pace is not capable of towing, how it appears they changed their mind. It does now have a towing capacity of 750kg – Image: insideevs.com

Caravan and Motorhome Club Tow Car Awards

While the I-Pace has won an award for towing light trailers I would expect it to for the power and weight the I Pace provides. Sadly compared to several of the other electric tow cars referenced on this post a 750kg trailer limit is not competitive.

Audi e-tron 55 Quattro – 1,800kg Towing Capacity

The e-tron is Audi’s first attempt at a pure electric car designed to be electric from the start. It’s a large SUV style electric car with a kerb weight of 2,490kg. As referenced previously, while the heavyweight of electric cars isn’t brilliant for efficiency and range it does help with towing stability. Even before the car was launched and it was still under its camo disguise Audi were demonstrating the towing capabilities of the car.

Audi e-tron towing a trailer
Audi clearly knows consumers are interested in towing with the e-tron due to this demonstration before the e-tron went into the production: Image – electrek.co

With a large 95kW battery the e-tron has an estimated real-world range of 250 miles. Now, to be honest, that range isn’t brilliant for a massive 95kW battery. Its less than the Tesla Model x at 275 miles. Furthermore, several media outlets have suggested even 250 miles in the e-tron is optimistic and it drinks electrons. Part of the reason for this as the can see in the towing statistics below is while the e-tron may have a 95kW battery, only 83.6kW is usual. Electric cars hold a unusable reserve to maintain battery stability and health under a depleted condition. However, the e-tron does have a larger reserve than other manufacturers and is effectively carrying a lot of weight in the battery that it cannot use.

As we know from the towing tests conducted above on the Model X, towing range is about half that of the cars normal range. Therefore, with the Audi e-tron a realistic towing range could be closer to 100 miles with a large trailer or caravan at its 1,800 kg limit.

However, the Audi e-tron can charge at 155kW. Therefore, when UK motorway service stations are updated with 155kW CCS fast charging this will potentially make the e-tron still viable as an electric tow car. Unfortunately, again as with several other electric tow cars I’m currently unable to find what the tongue/nose weight restrictions are for the Audi e-tron. I do find it bizarre how this vital piece of towing information is not stated alongside the maxium braked trailer weight.

Audi e-tron 55 Quattro Towing Specifications

  • Battery Size: 95kW (83.6kW usable)
  • Real World Range: 250 Miles (not towing)
  • Efficiency: 370wh/m
  • Towing Range: Typically between 100-120 Miles
  • Maxing Towing Capacity: 1,800kg
  • Max Nose Weight: Unknown
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Power: 402HP, Torque: 490lb-ft
  • Kerb Weight: 2,490 kg
  • L: 4,901 mm, W: 1,935 mm, H: 1,616 mm
  • Data Source: EV-Database

Mercedes-Benz EQC – 1,800kg Towing Capacity

The EQC is Mercedes first ‘proper’ attempt at an electric car. In 2014 they did actually release an electric version of the B-Class. But that car didn’t get a great reception due it is ‘ok’ range and lack of fast charging. So you never seem to hear Mercedes mention the electric B-Class as their first attempt, its all about the EQC! Now, this is a full-on electric car, able to compete with the likes of the Tesla Model X and Audi e-Tron. However, like the e-Tron the chassis foundation is an internal combustion engine car (Mercedes GLC). Therefore, there are some compromises when it comes to the best packaging/use of space. You will find not a ‘frunk’ on this car, just a large plastic cover. But as a tow car, the Mercedes EQC is pretty capable.

Mercedes EQC Electric Tow Car
Unfortunately as of this moment, I cannot actually find a photo of the EQC towing, so this will have to do: Image – ev-database.uk

Mercedes-Benz EQC – Towing Specifications

  • Battery Size: 55kW (80kW usable)
  • Real World Range: 225 Miles (not towing)
  • Efficiency: 355wh/m
  • Towing Range: Typically between 100-120 Miles
  • Maxing Towing Capacity: 1,800kg
  • Max Nose Weight: Unknown
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Power: 402HP, Torque: 561lb-ft
  • Kerb Weight: 2,495 kg
  • L: 4,761 mm, W: 1,884 mm, H: 1,623 mm
  • Data Source: EV-Database

Chris - Site Manager

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

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