By Mike Sokol
I started on this project nearly two years ago (yes, pre-COVID), and it’s now happening this summer and fall. I asked a simple question that none of the Electric Vehicle Manufacturers could answer: How much is the range of an Electric Vehicle (EV) reduced when it’s towing a travel trailer?
Be careful what you wish for…
At the beginning of the year I created GoGreenRV as a platform for testing electric vehicles for the RV world. I then went down the line of EV manufacturers and asked if I could borrow a new electric SUV or truck for a series of towing experiments. In addition to simple questions such as how much range does an EV lose while towing a travel trailer, I want to know if the U.S. electric grid can be beefed up to handle all that charging, and will there be enough Lithium for all those batteries.
And, right out of the gate, Rockwood said “Yes.” So just last week I took a drive to Elkhart, Indiana, and picked up my loaner Geo Pro G19FBTH. This little toyhauler weighs less than 4,000 pounds, so it looks like the perfect test vehicle for a husky SUV or small pickup truck. I love it already…
Next, I contacted Safari Condo and asked if they could supply one of their cool Alto travel trailers. This is the one that the roof lowers down for towing, and mechanically lifts up with more than 6 feet of headroom inside with a panoramic view. That should minimize the wind drag and maximize EV battery range. I’m picking it up this coming week and will post pictures next week.
The Alto weight is listed at 1,800 pounds, so it should easily be towable by many EV SUVs and any EV truck.
The tow vehicles
By mid-June, Volkswagen is delivering their new ID.4 Electric SUV to me, which I’ll use on the Alto travel trailer. Should match up nicely as far as weight, but the big question is how much wind resistance will it add (and EV range will be lost from it).
Rivian is late to the party
Rivian had originally promised me an R1T truck in time for this experiment, but that fell through due to a lack of loaner vehicles. However, they may have one late fall to try out. I’m really hoping to try this one out as it’s available with a HUGE battery pack that promises lots of range. As soon as I can get one, I’ll throw it into the mix as well.
Ford to the rescue (I hope)
I had been talking to Ford for more than a year about a loaner F-150 Electric Truck, and since they just unveiled it last week I’m now in communication with their marketing group about getting a loaner F-150 Lightning in August or September.
What am I trying to learn?
Well, here’s a short list that I hope to cover over the next year or so, starting with the basic range question.
- What is the range of each EV with and without a travel trailer at various speeds of 55, 60 and 65 mph?
- How do hills affect EV driving range?
- Can an EV be towed 4-wheels-down in “Toad” position?
- Will the U.S. electric grid eventually be able charge all these new EVs?
- Can campground power grids charge EVs without having problems?
- Is there a solution to having to import Lithium to manufacture batteries?
- And so much more…
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Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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