Skip advert
Advertisement

Can you tow with an electric or hybrid car?

The towing capacities of electric cars can vary greatly with many not approved for towing at all, but hybrids are well suited to towing caravans or trailers

Camping and caravanning are popular pastimes, but if you plan on using an electric car to tow your trailer tent or caravan, you need to tread carefully. Most electric cars are not type-approved for towing and the towing capacities of those that can officially tow trailers vary greatly from model to model.  

Advertisement - Article continues below

A few electric cars are rated to tow as much as equivalent petrol or diesel cars and the abundant torque generated by electric motors makes them adept in the tow car role. It's a similar story with plug-in hybrid models which are far more likely to be approved for towing and have similar advantages in terms of pulling ability. 

If towing is a major part of your motoring life you needn't exclude electrified vehicles completely from your shopping list, but make sure you do your research before taking the plunge so that you fully understand what each vehicle can tow safely and legally before you buy.

Why are many electric cars not suitable for towing a caravan?

There are several reasons why electric cars aren't approved to tow or can't tow very much, but the biggest one is type approval: a process that every model has to go through before it can be sold. In that process, makers decide whether to approve the vehicles for towing or not – and many electric cars simply aren’t approved for towing.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

There are some very good reasons for this. Chiefly, the extra weight of a caravan could cause the car’s motors and brakes to struggle. Electric cars are already heavier than conventional vehicles, placing more strain on some parts, and a speedboat hitched on the back would add to this. Then there is the issue of regenerative braking systems which slow electric cars quickly to recapture kinetic energy as electricity and charge the battery. The more extreme settings of these systems might cause a trailer to behave in an unexpected way when the car slows as a result of the driver lifting off the throttle. 

What's also certain is that hitching a caravan on to the back of an electric car will reduce the car’s overall potential range significantly.

Advertisement - Article continues below

As a result of all this, towing capacities for electric cars vary greatly. Very few electric vehicles are certified for towing very heavy caravans or trailers. The Tesla Model X is an exception as this SUV can tow an impressive 2,270kg, and Tesla has built it with a ‘trailer mode’, which shuts off some of the car’s drive-assistance features that wouldn’t work as well with a trailer. An Audi e-tron can manage a respectable 1,600kg, a Jaguar I-Pace can tow 750kg and there are other electric car options out there that can also tow.  

Can plug-in hybrids tow?

According to the Caravan and Motorhome Club, hybrids are the best choice for anyone who wants to use an alternative-fuel vehicle for towing a caravan. They have the best combination of performance and economy when towing.

In fact, there have been several plug-in hybrid vehicles certified for towing, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo XC90 T8, Volvo XC60 T8 and Audi Q7 e-tron.

The Volvo XC60 T8 has a 2,100kg limit, while the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid manages up to 3,500kg. 

Smaller models like the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron and the VW Golf GTE (now only available as used cars) can tow up to 1,600kg. And, while the Toyota C-HR and Prius hybrids are certified for towing, their limits are even smaller – just 725kg in the Prius.

Now take a look at the best plug-in hybrids on sale today...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Continue Reading
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Electric car charging in the UK
Fiat 500 connected to a Gridserve rapid charger
Tips & advice

Electric car charging in the UK

Keeping your EV battery topped-up is easier than ever. Here’s all you need to know about charging an electric car today
9 Apr 2024
Volkswagen ID. Buzz review
Volkswagen ID. Buzz - front tracking
In-depth reviews

Volkswagen ID. Buzz review

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz is arguably the most convincing electric car from the company yet
5 Apr 2024
Charging to the Alps in the mind-blowing Rimac Nevera EV hypercar
Rimac Nevera EV hypercar - Dynamic front 3/4

Charging to the Alps in the mind-blowing Rimac Nevera EV hypercar

Can an electric car be a genuine grand tourer? We take a Nevera to the Alps to find out
29 Mar 2024
New Audi A3 still planned: entry-level EV to give affordability edge over BMW and Mercedes
Audi A3 EV render - front
News

New Audi A3 still planned: entry-level EV to give affordability edge over BMW and Mercedes

Audi will persevere with its plan for an entry-level electric car to replace the existing Audi A3 at a time when rivals will be exiting that market
20 Mar 2024

Most Popular

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind
Dacia Duster - tailgate
News

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind

The value brand’s new warranty is also available on used cars, as well as for existing Dacia customers
16 Apr 2024
Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month
Mercedes EQC - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month

Mercedes’s EQC showed that the German firm was serious about electric cars and it’s our Car Deal of the Day for Monday 15 April
15 Apr 2024
New 2024 Audi A3 takes the fight to BMW and Mercedes with £32k price tag
Audi A3 Saloon - front action
News

New 2024 Audi A3 takes the fight to BMW and Mercedes with £32k price tag

The updated Audi A3 is available now, with the hot S3 version due from May
16 Apr 2024