The Tesla Model Y was launched after the success of the Model 3. In fact, the Model Y is stated to share roughly 75% of the parts used to build the Model 3. Therefore, the Model Y is viewed by some as a slightly larger/taller variant of the Model 3. However, there are a couple of important notable differences. First, the Model Y is a hatchback, hence loading and unloading the Model Y is much easier than the Model 3 with its relatively small trunk opening. Even more importantly, the Model Y has an official US tow rating of 3,500 lbs.
Key Tesla Model Y Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 3,500 lbs
- Availability – Now
- Price – Starting $49,990 (Long Range) > $59,990 (Performance)
- EPA Range – 315 miles (Long Range) > 291 miles (Performance)
- Estimate Towing Range (50%) – 156 miles (Long Range) > 146 miles (Performance)
- Maximum Charge Rate – 250 kW (V3 Tesla Supercharger)
Tesla Model Y HP & Torque
- Long Range – AWD with 346 HP and 389 lb-ft of torque
- Performance – AWD with 450 HP and 471 lb-ft of torque
Tesla Model Y Towing Capabilities
Unlike the US version of the Tesla Model 3, the Model Y is officially rated to tow by Tesla up to 3,500 lbs. While the Model 3 is rated for towing by Tesla in Europe (2,006 lbs), Tesla does didn’t give the Model 3 Performance a tow rating. However, for the US Model Y both the Long Range and Performance variant’s share the same tow rating of 3,500 lbs. What I find interesting is many people concluded that the Tesla Model 3 Performance had no towing rating due to the 20″ wheels. However, the Tesla Model Y Performance has even larger 21″ alloys and not only has a tow rating its the same tow rating of the Model Y Long Range.
Tesla is offering the Model Y with a $1,000 Class 2 tow hitch package. While Tesla states the towing capacity of the hitch at up to 3,500 lbs, the tongue weight of the vehicle is not specified. However, several media outlets such as Electrek state that a Class 2 tow hitch has a tongue weight rating up to 300 lbs. Now, whether you would actually want to put that much weight on the rear suspension of the car is another matter. The Model Y rear suspension is just springs, its not air suspension as is found on the larger/more expensive Model X. Hence, with a 300 lb tongue weight on the back of a Model Y I would expect a pretty significant drop on the back of the car.
Official VS Aftermarket Tesla Model Y Tow Hitch
So when it comes to setting up a Tesla Model Y for towing there are two options. Go the official route and order the car from Tesla with the tow package and pay an additional $1,000 ($1,200 all-in). Alternatively, an aftermarket tow hitch could be purchased such as the EcoHitch from Torklift Central. This may be the cheaper option, but there are several factors to consider first. For instance, the EcoHitch as standard does not come with any wiring harness. Hence, as standard its only really suitable for bike racks etc, not towing a trailer where the rear lights need to work. Furthermore, you obviously also have to factor in installation costs. Whether that’s paying someone to install the EcoHitch/Wiring harness or doing it yourself. Even with DIY your time does have value, so remember that.
The other important factor to consider as Mathew from LivingTesla discusses above is Tow Mode software. Only the official Tesla towing package will come with this feature. As of now, the key feature of Tow Mode is the car will check that the lights are working correctly in terms of the connection between the Model Y and trailer. It will also disable Autopilot, as currently its just not safe for use while towing due to braking distances being increase when towing etc.
Tesla Software Updates For Tow Mode
If you knew you were only ever going to use a bike rack on the tow hitch, sure I can see the appeal of the potentially cheaper aftermarket EcoHitch option. However, personally, if I was going to tow a trailer with the Model Y it would be an easy choice of the official Tesla towing package. Why? Well, Tesla is well known for its software updates which improve the cars over time. Hence, its only with the official tow package that you will be able to take advantage of specific Tesla software updates related to Tow Mode. But what could those software updates be?
Well, I wouldn’t expect Autopilot Tow Mode any time soon, as the car has no way of seeing behind and around the trailer it won’t have sufficent information to make safe judgments on manourvers. However, what I do expect Tesla to release in the future is a Tow Mode range predicitor. Typically an electric tow car will achieve 50% of its real world range when towing. However, currently no electric car provides a range prediction which is adjusted for towing. Hence, I expect Tesla to be the first to market with such a software update for the Tesla Model Y and X.
Therefore, while the official Tesla Model Y tow package is the more expensive upfront cost, as it comes with Tow Mode software I expect it to provide more value over time. This is purely a guess on my part that specific Tow Mode software will be provided by Tesla in the future. However, I personally feel its a pretty safe bet.
Long Term Tesla Model Y Towing Test
The best resource I’ve found so far if you are looking to find out how the capable the Tesla Model Y is when it comes to towing is the Electric Road Trip YouTube Channel. It covers the experiences of using a Tesla Model Y to tow a 2,300 lb Casita camper over not hundreds but thousands of miles. The video below covers the first leg of the trip from Calhoun GA to Manchester TN which is 130 miles.
If you are seriously interested in the Tesla Model Y for towing, I would encourage you to watch more videos on the channel which demonstrates how you do really have to plan ahead and study the terrain/elavations upon which you will be travelling. As while going dow hill in an EV you can potentially gain range, going up hill is a very different situation. Going up hill towing, the 50% range reduction while towing doesn’t apply. Consumption could be much higher than that.
The Tesla Model Y used in the road trip is the Long Range, therefore it has a roughly estimated towing range 156 miles, which is 50% of the EPA stated range of 315 miles. Therefore, based on those figures the Tesla Model Y would easily make the 130-mile journey. However, as stated above, that 50% range reduction is just a general estimate.
For instance, the EPA states the Tesla Model Y Long Range will consume 280 watts per mile to achieve the range of 315 miles. Hence, when towing the 50% range reduction guestimate would predict an electrical consumption of 560 watts per mile. However, as you can see early on in the video above consumption was seen to be in excess of 800 watts per mile. As is stated in the video ‘that is not sustainable’.
Respectable Average Consumption
Towards the end of the video, the car and trailer are seen charging at a trailer spot at a Tesla Supercharger station. While a few of the Tesla Supercharger stations have trailer spots, they are currently not that common. Furthermore, you can see they are not ideally designed, as even a small trailer on the back of the Model Y is not well-positioned for other vehicles to pass and to get in and out of the spot. So I expect some significant redesigns of Tesla Supercharger stations before the Cybertruck comes along which is a much larger vehicle capable of towing much larger trailers.
When it comes to the average consumption though when towing, the Tesla Model Y actually produced some very respectable results. While earlier in the trip consumption was very high at over 800 watts per mile, the average over the whole 130 trip turned out to be 425 watts per mile which was a total consumption of 59 kW. However, that figure is below the general estimated consumption of the Tesla Model Y towing of 560 watts per mile. Hence, I believe quite a bit of that 130 mile journey may have been going to a lower elevation (going downhill).
Tesla Model Y Features and Reviews
Above we’ve looked at the towing capabilities and towing range of the Tesla Model Y. Here, I wanted to reference a few reviews of the general features/capabilities of the car. The first review below from Kelly Blue Book does a good job of concisely cover the key benefits of the Tesla Model Y over its smaller sibling the Model 3. Due to the compact SUV/hatchback design of the Model Y, there is more interior space for passenger and luggage.
As is discussed on my Model 3 page, pretty much all functions of the Model Y are controlled through the 15″ centre touch screen. That can make accessing functions such as climate control more fiddly than providing dedicated buttons. However, as can be seen in the Electric Road Trip video above, that large screen can come in very handy for visibility when towing for hooking up the hitch etc.
The next video below is a 2-month ownership review of the Tesla Model Y from Ben and Jennie Sullins. They have owned a Tesla Model S, X, 3 and now the Y. Hence, they have experience of the progressions of Tesla electric vehicle range and how the Model Y compares to those other Tesla vehicles.
From the video above you can see they have experienced some fit & finish issues with the car, which has been generally reported and is an area where Tesla still has room for improvement. Generally, the size of the Model Y along with its hatchback configuration is described by Jennie as being ideal. I do also think the Model Y for its size and towing capacity is really hitting that ‘sweet spot’ of being big enough but not too large that manoeuvring and parking start to become an issue in some cases.
It is important to note the Tesla Model Y (and Model 3) can take advantage of Tesla Supercharger V3 250kW chargers. Now, that doesn’t mean it will charge at 250kW all the time (if ever), but I’ll get to that in a separate post. However, the point being the fastest charge rate on the Model Y is one of the fastest on the market. When it comes to towing, bearing in mind the average range reduction of 50%, getting charge into the car as fast a possible is important.
As I’ve stated above, personally if I was going to tow with the Model Y I would choose the official tow package to gain access to the official Tesla towing software updates I’m pretty sure are going to be coming in the future. For instance, in the Electric Road Trip video above, the satellite navigation directed the car under a bridge. Currently, you cannot add the trailers height/width into the satellite navigation for it to choose a suitable route, but I expect that update to be coming.
I also expect a towing software update where you can enter the weight/general dimensions of the trailer for the Tesla Model Y to provide an updated estimate of towing range. Through such general information, it would not be possible for the car to calculate the exact aerodynamic drag/wind resistance of the trailer, but a rough estimate is better than no towing range estimate at all.