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.  

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.

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.

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...

Continue Reading

Recommended

New 2022 Tesla Model Y: prices start from £54,990 in the UK
Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model Y

New 2022 Tesla Model Y: prices start from £54,990 in the UK

Just two versions of the Tesla Model Y SUV will be offered – a Long Range model with a 315-mile range and a Performance version with a 298-mile range
15 Oct 2021
New Mercedes EQE SUV spied ahead of 2022 launch
Mercedes EQE SUV - front
Mercedes

New Mercedes EQE SUV spied ahead of 2022 launch

Mercedes will launch its electric EQE SUV next year, and our spies have spotted the BMW iX rival testing in pre-production form
12 Oct 2021
Updated MG 5 EV launched for 2022 with 249-mile range
MG 5 EV - front
MG MG5

Updated MG 5 EV launched for 2022 with 249-mile range

MG has unveiled a restyled version of its electric estate for Europe – but there’s no word yet on when it’ll reach the UK
12 Oct 2021
Citroen C4 and electric e-C4 receive updates for 2022
Citroen e-C4 - front
Citroen C4

Citroen C4 and electric e-C4 receive updates for 2022

Citroen brings spec revisions and design changes to its C4 hatchback, and improved ‘real world’ range for the e-C4 Electric
8 Oct 2021

Most Popular

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates
Ford Focus ST Line - front
Ford Focus Hatchback

New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ford has given the Focus hatchback a refresh for 2021, with a new design and an improved infotainment suite
14 Oct 2021
Nissan launches combined PCP finance deal for electric car and charger
Nissan Leaf
Nissan

Nissan launches combined PCP finance deal for electric car and charger

The unusual new offer is available on the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 van – and it includes the cost of installing the wallbox charger at your home
13 Oct 2021
Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S Tour: long-term test review
Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S Tour long termer - first report header
Volkswagen ID.3 Hatchback

Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S Tour: long-term test review

First report: the impressive Volkswagen ID.3 EV joins our fleet fresh from winning an award from our sister title
15 Oct 2021