We have now reached a point where most new electric cars provide a range over 200 miles which is more than enough for most peoples daily driving needs. Therefore, for normal daily driving ‘range anxiety’ is becoming less of a concern. However, towing with an electric car/truck is a different matter entirely. When towing the average result is a 50% range reduction. Hence, looking for an electric tow car which will provide you with the longest range is a key consideration along with the electric cars maximum towing capacity.
As the electric car/truck market is constantly changing with new and improved models I’ll do my best to keep this article as up to date as possible. Currently, as can be seen in the image above the Tesla Cybertruck will likely provide the longest range of electric cars/trucks which can tow. You can use my electric tow car list to see the different maximum towing capacities of each electric tow car/truck currently on the market today and coming soon.
Longest Range Electric Tow Cars
So below is a list of electric tow cars/trucks currently available for sale and those which should be coming within the next year. I’ve marked the range on some vehicles such as the Tesla Cybertruck with an asterisk (*) until there is official data from the EPA on the range of these vehicles.
The towing range is then 50% of the EPA figure when not towing. Now, as I’ll discuss more below, the actual towing range can vary considerably based on lots of factors. The 50% towing range figure is just a general ‘rule’/guestimate.
|Electric Tow Car/Truck||Range (Not Towing)||Towing Range (50 %)|
|Tesla Cybertruck||500 + miles *||250 miles *|
|GMC Hummer EV||350 miles *||175 miles *|
|Rivian R1T||300 + miles *||150 miles *|
|Rivian R1S||300 + miles *||150 miles *|
|Tesla Model X||371 miles||186 miles|
|Tesla Model Y||315 miles||156 miles|
|Nissan Ariya||285 miles *||143 miles *|
|VW ID.4||250 miles *||125 miles *|
|Polestar 2||233 miles||117 miles|
|Volvo XC40 Recharge||208 miles||104 miles|
|Audi E-Tron||204 miles||102 miles|
|Bollinger B1 & B2||200 + miles *||100 miles *|
What Gives One Electric Car More Range Over Another?
A bigger battery? Sure, a larger battery with a higher energy capacity will give an electric car a longer range. However, simply comparing the stated battery capacity of one electric car with another to determine which will have the longest range will often provide a false result. Why? Well, there are more factors to a longer range than just the size of the battery. Furthermore, the stated battery capacity may be very different from the ‘usable’ battery capacity of the car.
Several electric cars have a percentage of the battery capacity restricted/locked-off. The Audi E-Tron 55 being one of the best examples. It has a battery capacity of 95kW but in reality, it has a usable battery capacity of just over 83kW. Why would Audi do this? Well, with current lithium-ion battery technology charging to 100% and discharging to 0% will rapidly reduce the life of the battery. Hence, capping off some of the battery capacity means the life of the battery can be extended.
Capping off some of the battery capacity also means you can charge the battery faster with less risk of damage. Hence, as you can see in my article on which electric tow cars can charge the fastest, the Audi E-Tron is one of the fastest charging electric cars. Now, if you purely look at the maximum charge rates of different electric cars you wouldn’t expect that to be the case. It appears by capping off some battery capacity Audi are more comfortable with their battery management system letting electrons fly when rapid charging.
Efficiency Is Key To Longer EV Ranges
While a bigger battery is one factor that can lead to one EV having a longer range over another, how efficiently an EV uses its onboard energy is another significant factor. For instance, there are significant differences between how efficient a Tesla Model Y (275 Wh/mile) is compared to an Audi E-Tron (380 Wh/mile). I’ll be discussing how to measure/understand the efficiency of electric cars in a later article.
Now, you may correctly state, ‘Chris, that’s not a fair direct comparison!‘ And your right, the Tesla Model Y has an unladen weight of 4,400 lbs and the Audi E-Tron 55 has an unladen weight of 5,720 lbs. Hence, its always going to take more energy to move a heavier vehicle. A better direct comparison would be the Tesla Model X (325 Wh/mile) with an unladen weight of 5,584 lbs. While the Audi E-Tron 55 still has 136 lbs on the Tesla Model X, that cannot fully account for the 55 Wh/mile difference in efficiency. There are clearly other factors going on, more efficient motors, more efficient software etc.
Aerodynamics Matter, Big Time
While the styling of cars/trucks has always to some degree considered how efficiently air passes over the body, hence its aerodynamic qualities, its even more important with electric vehicles. That’s why you have EV manufactures getting rid of unnecessary vents/ducts, and why camera wing mirrors are becoming more of a ‘thing’. You will even find some EV manufacturers bragging about how their car/truck has a very low ‘drag coefficient’, which is how aerodynamic efficiency is measured.
So how aerodynamic the electric car is will impact its range. However, towing a trailer/RV then puts the aerodynamic qualities of the trailer/RV into play. In my article on The Impact of Aerodynamic Drag on Towing Range, I discuss this issue in more detail. Put simply, the aerodynamic qualities of the RV/trailer can significantly impact the towing range of an electric car.
Higher Speeds Mean Shorter Ranges
While more efficient hardware/software in an electric car can improve its range, along with a bigger battery and more aerodynamic designs, higher speeds will always result in shorter EV ranges. At higher speeds, aerodynamic drag increases exponentially. Hence, if you want to get the longest range out of any EV you need to have a delicate approach with your right foot. This is applicable to any EV in all driving conditions. However, its particularly applicable to electric tow cars pulling an RV/trailer where aerodynamic drag is even more considerable. Such as towing at highway speeds.
Conclusions On The Longest Range Electric Tow Cars
So what should you take away from the above information? Well, the table above can be used as a general indication of which electric tow cars currently provide the longest ranges. However, the reality is in the real-world range in a specific scenario (especially when towing) will likely produce a different result. The weight of the trailer/RV, terrain/elevation changes and the combined aerodynamic profile of the car/caravan/trailer will all come into play.
The key to providing accurate real-world electric tow car ranges will come from better software. Electric tow car route planners are going to have to consider all of the factors above to be able to provide reasonably accurate towing range predictions. Until that point, anyone with an electric tow car needs to plan ahead and know all their rapid charging and destination charging options to plan a successful/stress-free trip.