Can a Tesla Model S tow a caravan? (5 reasons why not)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can a Tesla Model S tow a caravan? We will explain why it is not a good idea to tow with an electric car in five simple reasons. 

Can a Tesla Model S tow a caravan?

A Tesla Model S cannot tow a caravan, according to the manufacturer. In fact, Model S is not on the “approved” list for towing and doesn’t come with a tow hook or tow hitch. The following Tesla models can tow a caravan:

  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model X
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Tesla Cybertruck.

In short, all Tesla models, except Model S, are known to be ideal for towing a caravan or small trailer. Tesla’s electric models are indeed ideal for towing, especially with the instantaneous torque produced by their engine. This has already resulted in several impressive feats in the past. 

The only downside that saddens us is that long travels are not possible (yet) because of autonomy. The increase in fuel consumption is phenomenal, making it difficult to travel from supercharger to supercharger. 

Can I install a tow hitch for my Model S?

You can, indeed, install an after-sale tow hitch for your Tesla Model S. However, this is at your own risk, as you will most definitely lose your warranty. 

As an option, look for Rameder in Europe, or Torklift Central in the US.

We cannot tell you how much a Tesla Model S can tow, as the manufacturer states that it wasn’t designed for it. Yet, as a general rule, the weight of the caravan should not exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the car.

Note: We do not encourage anyone to install a tow hitch on a Tesla Model S.

Why is a Tesla Model S not a good option for towing a caravan?

Electric car motors have high torque available almost from the moment you step on the accelerator. And generally, batteries located in a position that favours a low centre of gravity and a good distribution of weights.

On paper, technically, for these reasons, an electric car could be an even better option for towing a caravan than a car with a combustion engine. However, it is difficult to find electric cars approved to install a tow ball. And in those that can, the towing capacity is noticeably lower than in its brothers with a combustion engine.

Which is the reason? Quite simply, manufacturers do not approve their electric cars for pulling a trailer. And those that do take into account the limitation of electric propulsion systems in the face of the requirement of towing a trailer.

Towing capacity in electric cars

Of course, things are changing. In its original conception, an electric car like a Nissan Leaf or a Renault ZOE was designed for the city or for short trips. Homologating it so that it could pull a trailer was not a priority.

Tesla, which always seems to be one step ahead when it comes to electric cars, was one of the first manufacturers to offer a car of this type approved for pulling a trailer with the Model 3. And new contenders arrived, such as Audi SUVs, Mercedes and Jaguar. Or like Polestar. Just now that the Polestar 2 is about to hit the market, the brand announces a category-leading towing capacity of 1,500 kg.

In the case of SUVs, it could be expected that customers would demand the possibility of equipping a tow ball. This is how Audi understood it, which approves the Audi e-Tron with a towing capacity of 1,800 kg. But to give you an idea, a Q7 e-Tron 50 TDI can pull 3,500 kg, more than double. If you’re looking for an electric car that can get close to that figure, you’ll only find one: the Tesla Cybertruck.

What is the reason for the limitations of electric cars when pulling a caravan?

Well, to begin with, the weight. Keep in mind that an electric car already weighs more than an equivalent car with a combustion engine, due to the batteries. This makes the suspensions, tires, brakes … everything is subjected to a more demanding job. If you are going to add the mission of towing a caravan, you have to first oversize everything else. And that has a cost.

Another factor has to do with the regenerative braking system used in electric cars. As you know, this system is basically responsible for converting kinetic energy into electrical energy and returning it to the battery during braking. 

In an electric car, it is normal to have different levels of regenerative braking, many even managed from the accelerator pedal itself, such as the Nissan e-Pedal, or the BMW i3.  Taking your foot off the accelerator slightly generates a braking effect that, in the case of a car pulling a caravan, is more difficult to manage, as it has to handle much higher amounts of kinetic energy, which can cause damage to the propulsion system.

Then there is the issue of thermal management. The stresses placed on the electrical system when pulling a trailer, especially uphill or when the outside temperature is high, can not only cause erroneous range readings and unwanted load spikes but greatly increase the degradation of the Battery.

Finally, autonomy. Pulling a caravan, depending on the type and weight, can require twice as much energy during a typical tour compared to driving without a trailer, due to weight, rolling resistance, drag coefficient and aerodynamics. In a car with a combustion engine, you can stop to refuel. In an electric, what could be a trip without having to stop to charge the battery, could require an intermediate stop… and with the caravan in tow.

Alternatives to electric cars: plug-in hybrid … or turbodiesel

In short, if you want to pull something other than a car to transport bikes or motorcycles, for example, a caravan or a large trailer, and you are thinking about an electric car, you must be willing to make a very large financial outlay … or change your options.

A good option may be a plug-in hybrid like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which can pull 1,500 kg. You will move in electric mode in the city or on short daily trips, and you will have the support of the combustion engine, which will carry all the weight (pun intended) when refuelling.

And if not, you know, a good turbo diesel.

The bottom line

So are electric vehicles capable of pulling a trailer or a caravan? Yes, but only vehicles with powerful batteries and for a very short time. To tow a trailer or caravan, it is best to use a vehicle with a combustion engine with approved power and technical capabilities. At least for the moment.

Please let us know what you think on the subject or any comments or questions. 

FAQ on Can a Tesla Model S tow a caravan?

Can a Tesla Model 3 tow a caravan?

Tesla Model 3 could tow a small caravan or pop-up camper. The Model 3 can tow up to 910 kg, according to Tesla. The Californian manufacturer adds that an electronic system for stabilising the trailer via targeted braking is automatically coupled to this model.

Is there an electric car that can tow a caravan?

Electric cars such as Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model X or Tesla Model 3 have a somewhat decent towing capacity and could thus tow a small to a medium-sized caravan. However, when it comes to towing a vehicle, a plug-in-hybrid such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo XC90 T8, Volvo XC60 T8 and Audi Q7 e-Tron do a great job. 

Can a Nissan Leaf tow a small trailer?

Yes, a Nissan Leaf can tow a small trailer. Nissan Leaf’s towing capacity is rated at 1500 pounds (or 680kgs). 

Are electric cars good for towing caravans?

Electric cars are good for towing caravans, but only for a small distance. The lack of components to make batteries, the high cost of cars, the battery’s autonomy, and the cars’ characteristics don’t put the electric car on top of our list.

References

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