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RVelectricity: Electric Avenue – Mike’s EV towing RV challenge

By Mike Sokol
Dear Readers,
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.

1st verse…

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…

2nd verse…

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

The electric Rivian pickup truck will debut in the summer of 2021.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…

Please take this survey for me to gauge your interest in EVs

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.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

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Jeff Clark
4 months ago

For RVelectricity: Electric Avenue – Mike’s EV towing RV challenge, please contact ATLIS EV Trucks and see if they, too will participate. I’m very thrilled by their tech specs for a full-size, dually EV truck and would hope that their performance pulling a 5th wheel blows us all away!

Retired Firefighter Tom
4 months ago

As I am now over 76 years old I doubt if I would buy a new vehicle for towing. [My current truck is a 2013 3/4-ton Chevy with an 8′ bed and four full-size doors.]

Bernie Turner
4 months ago

I found this article on towing a boat with a Tesla Model Y. Per the article, efficiency was at 45%. https://www.motorbiscuit.com/range-tesla-model-y-lose-towing-boat/

TomS
4 months ago

An EV towed would be great.

Neal Davis
4 months ago

I picked the intermediate answer, but really agonized before choosing it over the last answer. I worked with the statistics agency of the U. S. department of Energy for several years beginning in the early 90s and developed great pessimism regarding the speed of introduction/adoption and efficacy of alternative energy (i.e., non-petroleum and non-coal). That pessimism lingers.

Steve
4 months ago

I love the idea of doing these tests with some newer model EVs. There are quite a few videos on YouTube that describe people’s towing experiences with Teslas, particularly the Model X as it had an optional towing package. The consensus of the videos I have seen seem to arrive around a 40-60% hit on range towing a 5,000 lb. trailer. Of course, that range hit will vary based upon speed, the actual weight of the trailer, the aerodynamics of the trailer, etc. I would expect a similar range hit with the Rockwood trailer. That’s fine for local towing, but obviously would be troublesome if one wanted to tow long distances.

The other problem that needs to be addressed is car charger access when towing long distances. The problem would be accessing the chargers while connected to one’s trailer. At the vast majority of charging stations, the driver is going to have to disconnect the trailer, pull up to a charger, charge their vehicle, then reconnect the trailer. That will be a pain.

Wolfe
4 months ago

I like the IDEA of electric truck and or RV, but the math currently says it’s a total absurdity. I currently travel at 2-3 full gas tanks per travel day… so, moving 20,000lbs for 500 miles. Granted i’m probably on the upper edge of mobility among RVers, but to do that with an electric rig would require a 30KW generator (at least) to keep moving, or possibly a small nuclear reactor in the bed… today’s tech just isn’t CLOSE to meeting my needs.

Tim
4 months ago

Very interested in battery tech & EV toads and e-RV. As with the trucking industry electric is the future. The vision there does a lot to answer the grid & charging down time problems.

The Chevy VOLT experiment proved this out and is the only way to make EV towing, trucking, and RV’s attainable in out lifetime. YES onboard charging most likely with gas or diesel! Of course supplemented with solar, on board wind, and braking generation.

Electric motors are most efficient & powerful way to move (everything)! Just add batteries to diesel/electric locomotive tech. There’s a reason every train runs on electric, every cruise ship, nuclear subs and warships!

Wolfe
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I’ve been wondering the same thing…. where are the diesel-electric road vehicles? Efficiency of diesel for total power, electric for applied power and a modest battery for surge demand between them.

jillie
4 months ago

My husband teaches robotics and automotive. It is more based on the future of EV and robotics that are designed to drive them. I told my husband that is nice but I want nothing to do with EV ever. I want my gas fueled jeep grand cherokee left alone. After I am dead and buried then life can go on with EV. So EV is not for me. Let the next generation figure it out.

Bob M
4 months ago

I’m interested in a hybrid truck, but don’t feel total electric vehicle is the way to go yet. Total electric vehicles are ok for around town, but not long distance driving yet. Our president is moving too fast toward electric vehicles.

John Koenig
4 months ago

I’m on my second Toyota Prius (SUPER fuel efficient). I was VERY happy with the first one; a 2112 Prius C. In 2018, I traded up to a Prius Touring Four, I was NOT as satisfied for a variety of reasons. For the 2021 model year, the Toyota Sienna is now a hybrid (I might take a closer look at the Sienna next year (it’s generally not a good idea to buy the first model year). As for electric RVs, I think it will be years before they’re truly “ready for prime time”.

RLL
4 months ago

Mike,
I installed a solar panel array on my diesel pusher and a bank of lithium iron phosphate house batteries. While I travel I leave the inverter on to run a residential refrigerator , etc. I have been wondering if one could do something similar with an array on a travel trailer and use it to charge your EV while towing the TT. I’m just wondering how efficient that could be.

peterb
4 months ago

Mike, you rock

Tom H.
4 months ago

Thanks Mike for doing this. I love my Ford 250 diesel and hope to use it many years. But, technology is changing, and I believe that renewable energy is the future. We need to embrace it and not fight it. Just my thoughts.

Bill
4 months ago

on your poll I said no way, but realize the future is seriously going to go there with or without me. I guess the change is going to be as much like it was in the early 1900’s going from a horse to an automobile . People like me balk at the change.
From what I am seeing, our failing power grid infrastructure is going to become a serious concern. With many power outages from overloading the system with EV’s. Then there is going to be the “new” difference in refueling of all those EV ‘s as well with Long, long lines at fueling stations to refuel and get back on the road. On occasion I see the power grid going down from an overloaded grid causing all those EV’s to simply sit and wait for the power to come back on. Then when you are finally parked at the RV site one better have an generator cause power grids are not going to be reliable.
That brings me to another question. Cane we carry a portable generator and charge our EV as we go?

jillie
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill

What I am seeing and was asked believe it or not while remodeling the garage? Do I want a power unit for my future EV? I said hell no. But the electrician said when we get ready to sell or after my death my house will go to someone else and that someone else will install a unit to jump start his EV. I have seen some houses actually hook up their cars to their garages. Count me out. Too rich for my liking.

Tom
4 months ago

Range will be the interesting part. Less than 300 miles under way is a goal for my daily RV run. Any less really reduces my interest.

David Telenko
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Ok Mike I’ll meet you at the Salton sea. Your plan sounds solid, well at least on paper, time will tell. Do you have an emergency plan if the chargers are out of order? Don’t know the situation as to where in the Salton Sea area your going, but you probably know!
Looking forward to a meet up
Snoopy

Mike Sokol
4 months ago
Reply to  David Telenko

I’ll have a 30-amp charging cable I can use to cross-connect from the RV batteries to the EV, so I can get perhaps another 10 miles range in an hour or so. Plus I’ll bring a Honda eu2200is that can charge at 16 amps. That’s maybe 5 or 6 miles of range per hour of recharging. Not super fast, but a lot better than a tow.

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