Looking into buying a Tesla and wondering if it can actually tow a trailer and still have juice left to get you where you need to be? Would adding extra weight to your already-heavy EV bring on the dreaded “range anxiety” associated with EV driving? In this guide we’re going to look at the difference between towing with a regular car and an electric car – specifically the Tesla. So does it tow? And what do you need to know to make the journey successfully?
Yes, Teslas tow (if a tow-hitch has been fitted). Both the Model X and Model 3 Teslas are officially rated for towing, and their towing capacity by weight is not far off from a standard fuel-powered car at 5,000 lb. However, their current limitation relates to distance rather than weight. Towing something heavy will dramatically reduce the range of a Tesla battery pack depending on weight, speed and incline.
Aerodynamically-designed trailers, caravans and other towable goods will hopefully improve these metrics in the years ahead.
How Much Weight Can You Tow In A Tesla?
The Tesla Model X is gauged with a towing capacity of 5,000 lb. (a little over 2,200 kg or 2.5 tons), a figure verified by owners of the model X.
The 5,000 lb. figure applies to 20” wheels; on larger 22” wheels, this figure drops down to 3,500 lb. (just over 1,500 kg or 1.75 tons).
The larger figure of 5,000 lb. is enough for a large, loaded trailer, a caravan or even a small boat.
For the Model 3, a tow rating and the release of the tow hitch package (see below) was released just in the middle of last year; however to date the tow package is only available in Europe.
The Model 3 towing capability is rated to 2,000 lb. (910 kg) which may not be enough for a big trailer but will be enough for attaching hitch racks and smaller trailers.
The model S is not currently rated for towing.
What Work Has Tesla Done To Help Those Wanting To Tow?
The first thing to note in relation to Tesla’s work on towing capabilities of the Model X is that the current specs set it apart from other EVs.
Though its performance doesn’t yet square up to internal combustion engines (ICEs), the current tow rating is somewhat unique to Tesla given that most EVs are not yet rated for towing.
The 5,000 lb. tow rating of the Model X is the highest of any EV currently on the market. Tesla publicised this through a video of a Tesla Model X P100D pulling a Qantas airliner; and also pulling a truck across snow on an incline—which it did successfully.
In terms of the steps taken by Tesla to achieve this capability, Model X drivers have been able to opt for a tow package since 2016 for USD 1,250 which includes a high-strength steel tow bar, removable 2” hitch receiver and 7 pin trailer electronics harness; this tow package come standard on all new Model X vehicles.
The package also includes a Trailer Mode software update that enables drivers to level the suspension automatically, more or less deactivate the rear proximity sensors and automatically monitor trailer sway to adjust rear braking accordingly; all useful towing measures.
How Does Towing With Tesla Affect The Cars Range?
At the current time, this is where the Tesla Model X capabilities fall down, however this is partly due to the absence of towing equipment such as trailers with the same level of aerodynamic design to match that of EVs such as Tesla.
EVs are designed for efficiency to account for their main limitation; the range of electric batteries relative to ICEs. Driving with a trailer or other towable goods with little or no aerodynamic design built-in interferes with EV efficiency and brings range down dramatically.
Various independent tests indicate that towing a trailer or similar item at the maximum-rated weight of 5,000 lb. introduced significant problems to range.
Different tests infer different results, however a 100-mile journey at a gradient of 1% indicated the need for a second charge before the journey was complete.
Another pointed towards a journey-time of just one-and-a-half hours for every one hour of charge.
Neither result would be very useful in practical terms for a long-distance family camping trip.
Can Every Tesla Tow?
Currently, only the Model X and Model 3 are rated for towing. The towing package with tow hitch, other accessories and software update now comes as standard on all Model X purchases.
The release of the tow package for the Model 3 came in response to owner requests.
The price for the tow package is the same as that of the Model X before it became a standard inclusion into model X purchases (USD 1,250).
At the moment, the Model S is not currently rated for towing.
The Tesla CyberTruck soon to be launched is likely to have far advanced towing capabilities. Its tow rating is reported to be over 14,000 lb. (6,350 kg or 7 tons).
A number of independent tests have shown the new cybertruck measuring up to ICE Ford pick-ups.
|Tesla towing capabilities|
|Pounds (lb.)||Kilograms (kg)||US tons (t)|
|Model X||20” wheels||5,000||2,200||2.5|
|Model 3||All models||2,000||910||1.00|
How To Tow With A Tesla?
The main thing to remember when towing a Tesla is simply to activate the tow setting before setting off as this will ensure the car is set up to respond to the difference in handling through pulling a load.
You’ll also need to make sure that you have factored in the added charge times needed to complete the journey that you have in mind. This will vary, but as stated above, towing at full capacity can demand an hour of charging for every hour-and-a-half on the road.
This will vary from model to model, the weight being carried, the incline whilst travelling and driving conditions. Just be aware that towing will require more and longer chargers so be sure that charging points can be accessed along the way.
Lastly, charge times can be reduced by making sure that the load being towed is as aerodynamic as possible. This might be difficult if the load is a caravan or something like a boat as the shape and dimensions are fixed. However, if carrying goods in a trailer, the overall shape of the load can be made as streamlined as possible to help compliment the aerodynamic design of the Tesla Itself.
Lastly, when towing in any EV, it is important to be conscious of the difference in drive characteristics. Due to the way in which electric motors propel electric vehicles compared to an ICE, care must be taken when driving downhill with a load at the rear. The added load can actually feed energy back into the electric components of the vehicle and cause the electrical system to overload.
Electric vehicles are also generally much heavier than fuel-powered cars due to the battery pack and other components.
Before You Leave Home
Probably the most important thing to remember when towing in a Tesla is making sure that you will be able to access enough charge points along the journey.
It might be a good idea to do some test runs locally before setting out on a long-trip for the first time to see how the car battery responds to towing heavy goods.
Should I Tow In My Tesla ?
Tesla has done quite a bit of work on making sure that the Model X and 3 are capable of towing. The fact that both cars are rated for towing means that they are safe for towing within the stated limits.
How Much Will The CyberTruck Tow?
Many of the tests carried out by Tesla and independently have shown the pulling power of current Tesla models such as the Model X and Model 3.
Given that Tesla’s truck is designed with heavy-carrying in mind, it will no doubt meet up to the pre-release specs. Keep in mind however that range will still be affected depending on the weight being carried.
That said, it looks as though Tesla may be working on aerodynamically-designed caravans and trailers which will dramatically help EVs to tow heavy loads whilst keeping impacts on car range to a minimum.
Can I Tow My Tesla?
Yes, just make sure it’s, put into tow mode & raised onto a flatbed truck and not pulled by the front wheels as after a short journey this can cause overheating and damage the battery. Read more over at Can I Tow My Tesla?