Can You Tow With an Electric Vehicle?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

One of the most valuable aspects of owning an electric vehicle is the amount of torque that they produce from the moment you step on the throttle. Since an electric motor creates torque instantly – compared to an internal combustion engine that has to spin to a certain RPM first – there is plenty of power on tap from the get-go.

Considering there is so much power on hand, you would think that just about any electric vehicle on the market work well as a tow vehicle. But as it turns out, being able to tow something has more to do than just having ample power.

There are a few factors when it comes to towing with an EV

A Tesla Model 3 Towing | Youtube

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If you look at the current landscape of available electric vehicles in the market today, you’ll notice that only a select few are rated for towing. According to Autocar, there are a number of reasons for this, and it’s not because you can’t hook up a tow bar to any EVs.

One of the main drawbacks to any EV is mass. Since battery packs are heavy, many EVs tend to weigh more than their internal combustion counterparts. This means that if you add more weight to an already heavy vehicle that’s not really meant for towing, there could be a lot of stress on the EV drivetrain and electric components.

Additionally, Autocar reports that any EVs regenerative braking system could be a “limiting factor.” When you hit the brakes in an electric vehicle, the electric motors put energy back into the battery. This regenerative braking effect is specifically tuned to the vehicle’s curb weight, so adding more weight with a heavy trailer could add too much kinetic energy pouring into the system. You can disconnect the regenerative braking system, but the weight could still be too much for the EV’s friction braking system.

Towing can decrease range as well

A white Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

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The other elephant in the room when it comes to an electric vehicle towing a trailer is the notion of electric range. While vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or any Tesla can pride themselves on having the best range possible, you can expect that range to be cut in half when towing, according to Shop All Cars. Additionally, you’ll have to drive much slower when towing with an EV, so you can forget about using “Ludicrous mode” in your Model X.

Which electric vehicles can tow?

A blue 2021 Audi e-tron on the street
2021 Audi e-tron | Audi

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If you’re really itching to tow a trailer without using a drop of gasoline, then you might have to wait for the Tesla Cybertruck or Hummer EV to make its way onto the scene. But if you can wait any longer, then the following EVs can get the job done:

  • Tesla Model X: Up to 5,000 pounds
  • Audi E-Tron: Up to 4,000 pounds
  • Tesla Model Y: Up to 3,500 pounds
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge: Up to 3,300 pounds  

There have been other EV owners that have successfully hooked up tow equipment and trailers to smaller cars – like the Tesla Model 3 in the video below. However, we would suggest doing so with caution. Again, just because EVs put out a lot of torque, it doesn’t mean that they can tow like a Ford F-250. But there will be viable tow-ready options in the market soon enough.

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