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 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 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 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.
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 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 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.