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EV Towing: Can You Tow A Camper With An Electric Vehicle?


EV towing a camper

EV Towing: Can You Tow A Camper With An Electric Vehicle?

Electric vehicles (EV) are becoming more and more popular across the world. Multiple brands have developed cars that are hybrids or purely electric and it’s becoming quite common to see charging ports next to gas stations. But what does this mean for people with trailers and campers? Is EV towing possible, let alone realistic?

Well, when it comes to towing, electric vehicles and gas-powered vehicles have pretty similar specifications and tow capacities. An EV can definitely tow a camper as long as it’s within the weight limits. However, it may lose up to 30% of its battery efficiency due to the extra load.

Tesla is one of the leading brands that creates electric vehicles, and their Model Y Camp365 can travel over 300 miles on a single charge. So, even if you lose some efficiency, a model like this would still be able to tow a camper for about 210 miles or more. This is usually more than enough to get to your favorite campground or get started on a family road trip. (Source)

Other brands are developing vehicles that specialize in EV towing as well, such as the Atlis XT, which can haul up to 35,000 lbs. of weight. We’ll discuss some of the top vehicles for EV towing below, as well as additional details about important specifications and the future of camper travel.

Important EV Towing Specifications

If you have a camper and are looking for an eco-friendly vehicle to tow it, there are some important measurements and vehicle specifications to watch out for.

Towing capacity

Towing capacity is one of the most important specifications to look at for any tow vehicle. This measurement refers to the maximum amount of weight that your vehicle can safely tow. You need to know what range of weight you can tow so you can narrow down your camper options.

Smaller cars that don’t have hitch attachments might not be able to pull anything, while a massive truck could haul a fifth wheel that weighed over 20,000 lbs.

Staying within your vehicle’s towing capacity is important, particularly if you’re using an electric vehicle. The more energy an EV expends, the sooner it has to recharge. Pushing beyond any vehicle’s towing capacity means risking its long-term integrity and your own safety. You’ll also drain the battery/fuel tank more quickly and will have to take more frequent stops.

Payload

Payload is a measurement that mainly applies to trucks, but since electric trucks are making an entrance now, you’ll need to keep it in mind as well. A vehicle’s payload limit refers to the maximum amount of weight that a truck can carry in its bed.

This is important when you’re thinking about truck campers or fifth wheel hitches (both of which place a lot of strain on a truck bed).

Unladen Vehicle Weight and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The tow vehicle’s specifications are important, but you also need to consider the suitability of your camper. That’s where the unladen vehicle weight (UVW) and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) come into play. These two specifications refer to the base weight (AKA shipping weight or dry weight) of your camper and the total amount it will weigh when it is filled to capacity.

You need to make sure that your camper’s UVW does not exceed the tow vehicle’s towing capacity. If it’s already too heavy when it’s empty, it will definitely be too heavy once it has been loaded with water, cargo, passengers, and anything else you pack along.

The GVWR is handy to know because it tells you the upper weight limit to expect with any given camper. If the GVWR is lower than your EV towing capacity, you’re in good shape! Don’t push the limits too far, though. A lighter camper will be easier to haul and it will place less strain on the vehicle’s structure and battery charge. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to keep your camper’s weight at 15% below your towing capacity.

Battery charge

Battery charge is important to know for every electric vehicle, but particularly if you’re going to be doing some EV towing. Once you know what your maximum charge is, you’ll be able to predict how long you can drive with an extra weight behind you.

Battery charge refers to the number of miles/length of time your EV can drive before it needs to recharge. High-end electric vehicles (such as Tesla models) can reach up to 500 miles per charge. These models are usually quite lightweight and streamlined, so they aren’t ideal for heavy towing. 250 miles per charge is closer to the average you would expect to see in other electric vehicle models.

An EV battery charge will last for a shorter period of time if you push the vehicle very hard. Towing can drain the charge a long time before the usual recharge period would occur. Plan to make more frequent stops if you tow a camper with an electric vehicle.

For a list of the most energy efficient EVs of 2021, check out this list.

Aerodynamics

Unlike the previous entries, aerodynamics in campers isn’t really a specific measurement, but it refers to how easily the camper will be able to avoid wind resistance. Large flat surfaces catch air easily and will be harder to push forward. A tow vehicle can expend a lot of extra energy to move a camper that is bulky and boxy.

When you’re considering a camper, make sure it will be able to travel with decent airflow and avoid catching large gusts. Look for rounded designs and surfaces that are tapered. Some campers may have channels built into the outside to direct the airflow. The more aerodynamic your camper is, the less energy it will take to tow it.

Electric SUVs

Electric SUVs are popular in many demographics because they offer a good amount of interior space as well as a decent towing capacity. These vehicles are good for day-to-day driving as well as EV towing. They are also handy for drivers that want to travel with large families or groups of passengers.

Some of the best electric SUVS for towing include:

  • 2021 Audi Q7/Q8: 7,700 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • 2021 Porsche Cayenne: 7,716 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe: 8,400 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • 2021 Infiniti QX80: 8,500 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • 2021 Ford Expedition: 9,300 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity

Check out this list for more great SUVs that are specialized for EV towing.

Electric Trucks

Electric trucks are a bit newer to the EV scene, but there are already lots of great options on the market. These trucks are able to pull massive amounts of weight, which is ideal for people who want to bring their campers on adventures. Some of these trucks could even handle a bulky fifth wheel, which are notoriously hard to find a suitable vehicle for.

Some of the best electric trucks for towing include:

  • Lordstown Endurance: 7,500 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • Ford F-150 Lightning: 10,000 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • Rivian R1T: 11,000 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • Tesla Cybertruck: 14,000 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity
  • Atlis XT: 35,000 lbs. Maximum Towing Capacity

Check out this list for more great trucks that are specialized for EV towing.

The future of EV towing

Electric vehicles are still evolving in the automobile market. They aren’t as widely available as other options and their price and charging needs may make some customers avoid them for a while. However, customers already have a lot of great options for towing their campers. Plenty of electric vehicles will be able to handle the weight and more are coming out all the time.

But I foresee that an electric car future is not far away, as charging stations become more common and manufacturers continue to make more efficient and powerful models. Keep your eye on this industry!


RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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Author Emily Lawrence Avatar

Emily Lawrence

Emily Lawrence lives in Idaho with her husband Nathan. Despite the cold winters in this area, it's Emily's favorite season! She loves to spend time skiing, roadtripping, and just exploring the outdoors.

32 thoughts on “EV Towing: Can You Tow A Camper With An Electric Vehicle?

  1. Certainly you can recharge an electric vehicle with house current. But the last I read about it, not that long ago, it will take at least 24 hours to recharge, and the article did not say what size the vehicle was – a larger vehicle might take up to 48 hours to recharge – don’t know how long it would take using a generator, but likely a long time. I’ve got a high top van that will ultimately be my camper, and if I run out of gas somewhere, I can always make sure to carry a can or two of gas with me. Haven’t read of anyone carrying a can of electric along. Right now, I consider electric vehicles more toys than useful vehicles. Every year colleges have a contest/race of solely electric vehicles, with solar power. I haven’t read about these for a long time, but if I recall right, they go for several hundred miles, but strictly light weight, one passenger/driver, and I believe the top speeds reached are around 35MPH. My thought is that pure electric vehicles have a long way to go before they are really useful. Personally, I think that concentration should be on hybrid vehicle, something with a small, fuel efficient engine, running a generator, powering electric motor(s). The last I read about the world record for fuel mileage, it was something over 1,000 miles, but can’t recall if it was Diesel or gas powered – top speed was very, very, slow by the way. Be just the thing for powering a generator to power an electric drive. In case you are wondering, I am sticking with gas power vehicles.

    1. So, as I was reading this article I thought about the solar panels of today, they are very thin and lightweight, it seems to me that if you are pulling a trailer of say 25 feet with an SUV or a pickup truck and you had to stop and recharge after 2.5 hours of travel to eat, which is quite normal in my case, if the trailer roof was covered with solar panels you could recharge (up to a point) as you go and while you are stopped to eat or other, the batteries in your stopped vehicle would get recharged. They may not charge fully but may be enough to get you another hour or hour or 45 minutes again down the road. That is, if your trailer was so equipped with solar panels. Does that make any sense at all. However I also think that we are not ready to drop the internal combustion engine, then there’s also hydrogen fuel cells to think about.

  2. I’ll never own one. If you’ve ever witnessed a Lithium battery fire in a vehicle, you wouldn’t either. You won’t have enough time to get your trailer or fifth wheel unhitched before it goes up in flames too.
    It takes time for the fire department to get to you, and over 30,000 gallons of water to put it out, and KEEP it out.
    So I have a full tank of gas that can last me a weeks, you have a full charge that’ll last you a couple of days, and the power goes out for two weeks or longer, from a hurricane or tornado. Good luck with that. Also, how far can you evacuate to get out of the storms range? Just being realistic folks.

  3. Although I have not added any solar power to my 37’ pull-behind travel trailer, I would think that someone has already figured out how to charge an EV with solar when “off grid”. Might take a few panels, but if one is staying in a remote area long enough (and there is plenty of sun), I would guess that could do the trick.

    In terms of charging an EV at your 50-amp campsite, absolutely you could. You just can’t realistically use the power for anything else (i.e. – your camper) while charging. I have installed 50-amp charging outlets (NEMA 14-50R receptacles) for my customers in their garages for their Teslas. Same outlet I installed in my garage for my camper. The 50-amp service provides a charge rate of “approximately 25 miles per charge hour” per Tesla (https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/downloads/universalmobileconnector_nema_14-50.pdf). So if you can sleep without an air conditioner overnight (say 8pm to 8am), or while you are away all day (but you will likey be IN your EV to get wherever), then it is possible to recharge your 300-mile range EV. So while out and about, find a Tesla supercharger and get “up to 200 miles in 15 minutes”. I’ve heard they will cost you though (might be $15 as of an April 2021 article I just read).

    I love the less-maintenance idea of EV’s, but I probably can’t haul my family of 7 in the EV AND pull my 8,000 lbs TT without spending an arm and a leg. But my 2012 Suburban does the trick well enough.

  4. Solar roof on the tow vehicle? Maybe im having too much common sense. Lets talk hypothetical. Tesla Cybertruck has 300mi no load from 100%-0%. Throw on a 8k trailer and now your down to about 200mi range. Throw in some hills or steep grade and now your down to about 180mi. Tesla says their super chargers are 150 mi apart on main highways. Yall have fun with that. Im sticking with my diesel.

    1. Plus one is paying for the costs associated with that EV. More tire wear, higher insurance, higher registration fees, initial cost, battery replacement cost. Total cost of ownership and the fact that most electricity comes from fossil fuel. This in itself is very inefficient. Human nature to want something for free.

    1. For what benefits? They need a way to disengage the motors from the wheels. Why would you want one as your run around vehicle to parks and back roads?

  5. All of the charge stations I’ve seen so far are parking lots with pull-in charging sites. None of them are conducive to having a trailer attached to a tow vehicle. Unhooking a trailer every time the tow vehicle needs charged doesn’t seem like fun!

  6. All of the campgrounds I have stayed at this year, over a 3 mo period, have said that they will NOT allow recharging of EVs at their location. Both cost and infrastructure limitations are cited. They have NO plans to spend the kind of money required to upgrade their properties

  7. The question is. Is therean EV I can tow with my motorhome? Will the vehicle charge itself though the wheel rotation? Wow! Wouldn’t that be great?

    1. Huh? If your wheels would generate power while towing you would charging with your tow vehicle engine. Power generation takes energy and creates drag. For example generating stations are only 30% efficient. Why do so many people think that electricity is some kind free or efficient system?

  8. When looking at the range per charge, it’s good to remember getting there is only half the battle. Most of us need to get home after the trip. Unless you’re camping somewhere close, the range is too limited to be practical.

  9. Bowlus travel trailers are remarkably light weight for their length and have superior aerodynamics. We routinely towed a 24-foot Bowlus with a BMW X3 2-liter diesel getting an average of 28 mpg over 15,000 miles. Some Bowlus owners tow with EVs.

  10. When do you think someone will come up with the complete package consisting of an all electric tow vehicle AND a solar equipped rv that is capable of charging the tow vehicle.
    This begs the question, can you charge your tow vehicle while you are towing your solar equipped rv? Asking for a friend

  11. The only problem I see is once I drive up into the Idaho mountains to my favorite boondocking location there is no charging port available so how do I get home?

    I guess I could charge it up with my gas-powered generator but that kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it!!!!!

  12. Your article made no mention of transmissions. CVT, continuously variable transmissions, are a different breed, and towing may put stresses on them that they were not designed for. Your article also did not mention hybrid passenger cars, such as if a Prius can pull a very small trailer like a teardrop or even U-Haul small 4×7 or 5×8 open or covered trailers, of max 1,500 to 2,000 lbs, total trailer and load weight, or if so doing might void powertrain warranties. Perhaps you can do a follow up article addressing these questions, as this first article has not covered them, and you bear responsibility for your outright encouragement, and dealing mainly with issues of range.

  13. The one problem I see that no one is talking about is the ability to reach a charger with a camper in tow. I have seen hundreds of chargers and there is not one charger station I could get into with my 37’ travel trailer. So until there are charge stations that would be easy for a cyber truck with a 37’ trailer without having to unhook in order to charge it doesn’t matter the miles you can get on one charge. No one will use these for towing on any distance that one would have to travel and charge with a trailer in tow.

  14. So my concerns are about recharging your vehicle once you get to the camp site. Can it be recharged from a standard campground 30 or 50 amp circuit? Can you charge your truck and have your camper air conditioning on at the same time? As electric vehicles become more popular will campground electric grids be able to withstand multiple vehicles being charged along with normal electric usage for furnaces and air conditioning systems? Many issues that could have been addressed in this article that were not.

  15. Some of the towing recommendations I have read in Trailer Life (Now RV Life) may surprise you. Salesmen insist a vehicle with a 10,000 lb tow rating can really pull that much. The unbiased articles indicate you should pull half of the max rating. Having upgraded my tow vehicle from half ton to 3/4 ton and double the tow rating I very much agree. If you do not like driving with white knuckles then pull half your limit. I feel much safer in my 3/4 ton truck. About driving range: If my truck is any indication, count on about one half of your range when towing. To me that leaves most electric vehicles as useless for towing, but at least you will have a camper to relax in while waiting for the charge to finish.

  16. Towing a heavy load with an electric vehicle greatly reduces the range, just as it does with a gas powered vehicle. You mention of being able to tow 210 miles or more and suggesting that is enough before you have to charge the batteries. Keep in mind not all states are small and in some areas of the country 210 miles is not that far. That is especially true in the western states. What this will do is change many single day trips to multiple day trips. Electric vehicles are a good idea for short trips, but the limited range does not make them practical for longer distances.

  17. That’s great but plugging into a Douglas Fir to recharge for the trip home doesn’t work. That means you can only get about 100 miles from home. Thats puts you in the industrial section of your city.
    Stop telling lies.
    In Vancouver last summer people were queued up at small town 150 km from home trying to recharge. They ended up waiting over 4 hours to get to a charge station and another hour to charge up.
    This is just nonsense. I’ll stick to my diesel pusher!

  18. Don’t forget that electric vehicle ratings are with a 100% charge but charge times are usually given only to 80% so it doesn’t sound too long. Plus they are on flat ground with one person. Gas and Diesel trucks often use their alternator to help charge RV batteries while in tow. This would also lower the recharge distance.

  19. I’m not a believer in EV’s, yet. I camp a lot in the summer time. Mainly in the mountains. My trailer is pushing 10K fully loaded. Where / how the heck do you recharge an EV when dry camping in the mountains. I imagine drastic problems when you have a low batt in your EV and a hundred miles from the nearest recharge station.
    Thanks
    Dennis

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