While some – including former PM Scott Morrison – may find it impossible to believe, electric vehicles will one day be able to tow all manner of caravans … and that day may not be too far away!
Even those who have long scoffed at the idea of a bowserless Big Lap are now being forced to acknowledge that the case for living the dream on a charge is an increasingly overwhelming one.
One person who needs no convincing is keen caravanner, Keith Blackburn from Canberra, who has become something of a pioneer in electric vehicle van towing.
The Canberra Times reports that Keith was an early convert to EVs and took delivery of a Tesla Model 3 long range model back in 2019, the same year that Scott Morrison declared that electric vehicles would ‘ruin the weekend’.
Determined to prove the one-time PM wrong, Keith set out to show his Tesla could take him on decent length trips … and that the van could come too!
While his Model 3 was factory-rated to tow one tonne, Tesla didn’t offer a towbar so Keith tracked down a US company, Stealth Hitches, which did. The Canberra Times reports that the national Tesla owners club, which was keen to support Keith’s quest, had it uprated and compliant to tow the full 1000kg.
The next challenge was finding a caravan which fell well under the Tesla’s tow rating and provided a safety margin. Keith settled on a unique teardrop-shaped design from Canada called the Alto, which weighed in at 766kg. It boasts a lightweight sandwich-type construction with electric actuators to raise and lower the roof so that under tow it has far less wind resistance than a normal van. However, once on site, the roof can quickly be raised to a conventional height.
When not towing, Keith’s dual motor Tesla long range usually has a range of around 500km.
In order to test the capabilities of his new set-up, Keith towed his van from the South Coast of NSW, up the Clyde Mountain, and back to Canberra … all on a single battery charge.
“My calculations on the net rise and fall in the highway from the coast to home indicated that, with regenerative power to assist, the journey was achievable without a recharge,” the retired statistician to the Canberra Times. “It was always going to be touch and go, but I knew that if I got really low on battery, there were recharge stations at Braidwood and Bungendore as a back-up.”
Keith safely made the trip with an indicated range of just seven kilometres left after the 198-kilometre journey.
“The car wasn’t as fully charged as it should have been and my advice to anyone who wants to tow with an EV is to do the maths beforehand,” he told the Canberra Times. “Towing does greatly affect your driving range but by how much depends on the topography of your route.”