Tuesday, November 28, 2023


RVelectricity: Ford F-150 Lightning towing range with Hi-Lo trailer

Dear Readers,
You may remember my beginning EV towing tests from last July where I used a Volkswagen ID.4 EV to tow both a Safari Condo Alto and a MyPod XT trailer. The mileage range while towing an EV trailer was less than spectacular, with a loss of 50% range at highway speeds being typical. Of course, this contributes to range anxiety and a lot more charging stops than you may have planned for during a camping trip. Read about my first test HERE.

Towing a pod…

Now, this really isn’t the fault of the EV tow vehicles. Most RV trailers aren’t designed with aerodynamics in mind. Not only are they tall and wide, camping trailers also have air conditioners, fan vents, ladders, awnings and all sorts of turbulence-inducing objects sitting or hung on them.

While many think that trailer weight is an important factor in mileage loss while towing with an EV, I think it’s really about wind resistance. This is a known issue with any petrol-powered tow vehicle where a 50% loss in gas mileage is possible, especially at 70 mph. That’s why smaller campers are better for towing with an EV.

Back to the ’70s

However, there was indeed a full-size RV trailer design that would clamshell down to around 4 ft. tall while towing, but then raise its roof to a full 6 ft.-plus interior in a few minutes at the touch of a button. It was the Hi-Lo trailer, and my parents had one in the ’70s.

It’s long gone, but I still have memories of towing it first with my dad’s Plymouth station wagon and later with a GMC 1500 truck. In fact, in the early ’80s my parents drove it from Maryland to Alaska and back, which was quite a trip.

Is there a modern trailer like this?

Well, Hi-Lo has been out of business for more than a decade, but I found a few other manufacturers building something similar, and even better. Enter the TrailManor camper, which not only raises the roof, it also extends fore and aft for some serious interior space.

I’m asking for a Lightning to test towing range

So, what would the range of an F-150 Lightning truck be if it was towing a TrailManor camper? Well, I’m pitching the idea to both Ford and TrailManor to provide loaner vehicles this fall. You may remember that Ford promised me an F-150 Lightning to test last summer, but due to production delays they supplied me with an F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid instead. Still an interesting test, but I’m ready to try out a Lightning as soon as I can get my hands on one.

And if this all works out, I’ll try a few cross-country test drives this fall. If my SWAG calculations are correct, then instead of losing 50% range while towing a conventional trailer, an F-150 Lightning might only lose 20% to 25% of towing range with a TrailManor camper.

Do you have a Hi-Lo or TrailManor trailer?

If any of you have a Hi-Lo or TrailManor trailer and can share your towing mpg using a gasoline, diesel or electric tow vehicle, please leave this information in the comments below. This is getting really interesting.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

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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Mike Sokol (@guest_185663)
1 year ago

Does anyone have any Hi-Lo or TrailManor mpg towing numbers to show?

Last edited 1 year ago by Mike Sokol
RV Staff
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Is this a case of what some people now refer to as “crickets”? 😆 –Diane

Megan Edwards (@guest_185642)
1 year ago

I think propane vehicles would be the way to go. They are clean enough to use in warehouses and mines. You do lose power using this and mileage. Easy to convert.

Tim (@guest_185745)
1 year ago
Reply to  Megan Edwards

I worked in a non gaseous salt mine, and we used only Diesel equipment and Electric Golf Carts/Gators.
No Flamable fuels allowed.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185618)
1 year ago

What about an EV Toad that could use regenerative braking to automatically recharge itself when you’re going down a steep grade? Sort of like an electric/exhaust brake…

Spike (@guest_185549)
1 year ago

Steve H….per your question:

Aliner is owned be Extreme Outdoors which is privately held.

Believe it or not, a religious colony in South Dakota owns Trailmanor.

Harder to find T&G, but nuCamp keeps coming up in searches. That is also privately held after being divested from Thor in 2018.

Last edited 1 year ago by Spike
Dave (@guest_185483)
1 year ago

Bottom line is that an EV truck is not a good choice for towing a reasonable sized trailer.

I would be glad to have a hybrid Super Duty with a strong recharge function on downhills such that I wouldn’t need to use brakes while going downhill. Win. Win.

Earl Balentine (@guest_185468)
1 year ago

I lose about 75%-85% of my charge pulling a trailer with my Tesla. Where there are no Charges I stay at a RV park and charge over night, very slow going.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185478)
1 year ago
Reply to  Earl Balentine

What size trailer? And are you saying a range loss of 75% to 85%? So instead of a 300 mile normal driving range you would have 45 to 75 miles range while towing this trailer?

Mike Sokol (@guest_185480)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Hi-Lo is attempting a comeback and looking for business partners to provide the resources they need to restart production.

Steve H (@guest_185423)
1 year ago

Anyone know how to buy stock in A-Liner, Trailmanor, or T&G teardrops? Those may become the “next big thing” in RVing once the current pandemic boom subsides and the RV industry reduces its backlog. Perhaps Fortune magazine could write an article about that!

B N S (@guest_185381)
1 year ago

A BIG No! To EV….

Mike Sokol (@guest_185397)
1 year ago
Reply to  B N S

To all EVs, or just to EV tow vehicles?

Crowman (@guest_185434)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

All in my case. They’re NOT zero emissions they just shift the pollution to a different place as the US is 62 percent carbon source electric production. As of today there’s no recycling available for battery packs when they burn out in 10 years. They may be able to overcome these problems one day but not today.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185454)
1 year ago
Reply to  Crowman

I’m planning to add 2kW of solar panels to my garage that could easily provide 200+ miles per week of recharging range to a EV SUV. Since my wife typically drives 100 to 150 miles per week, she would never have to plug into the grid.

Also, I’ve been studying SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) that could provide very safe nuclear power to remote areas without the losses of the existing electrical grid. An SMR could easily provide power for hundreds of super fast Level 3+ EV chargers that would be nearly as fast as filling up a gas or diesel tank in your car or truck.

This all seems like a pipe dream right now, but EV adoption will take at least 10 to 20 years, which is time enough for the recharging and recycling challenges to be resolved. At least I hope so…

Rick K (@guest_185484)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I agree with Crowman. The use you describe is perfect for an EV, but your article describes towing. Not everyone just uses their vehicles for a daily commute. To kill the internal combustion engine now is too early. I am now seeing more talk about hydrogen powered vehicles which seem to be a better alternative. And remember, there are factions of the public who frown on nuclear energy. That’s why they’re starting to shut them down already.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185621)
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick K

Yes, nuclear energy is fraught with all sorts of problems, but how many of you have actually been to a coal strip mine, a field of oil derricks, or drilling for natural gas with fracking? I’ve seen all of them, and they’re all dirty, stinky and environmentally intrusive. Hydrogen powered vehicles still need an energy source, so it’s basically just a better battery. There are no simple solutions to our insatiable need for energy, be it provided by coal, oil, nat gas, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric or solar. I just keep studying everything…

Warmonk (@guest_185708)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Serious question, Mike. Don’t SMR’s need a load all the time? I mean, the load can be variable but never zero. Seems to me that would rule them out for charging stations that are not in constant use.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185843)
1 year ago
Reply to  Warmonk

I do not think that’s the case. SmRs seem to be self regulating and not prone to runaway meltdown. Now I’m not suggesting they’re only for EV chargers, but they could be located a few miles out of town and provide power to several thousand homes along with Level-2 home chargers and Level-3+ fast chargers at nearby shopping centers. It’s an interesting technology that needs more study on my part.

Warmonk (@guest_185965)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Seen. I was thinking smaller SmR’s – as in something that might do a house. Merci.

Duane R (@guest_186144)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Mike, I take issue with your characterization of “fracking”. First, fracking is just part of the completion phase, and is not responsible for most of the “bad” things folks object to regarding oil and gas drilling and production. But, it also depends on what you have been looking at. In years past, with vertical wells, I agree, petroleum-production fields were very ugly. However, with horizontal well legs of 3 miles, and 36 wells on a 1-acre footprint (production pad of 2-3 acres, post-completion), petroleum production is much less unsightly than hundreds of windmills (which can be seen 30+ miles away, compared to less than a mile for a petroleum production pad) or acres of solar panels. And, how about the piles of windmill blades that have been discarded? There is environmental intrusion for all sources of energy, especially for EV on the pre-production mining end of the story.

Mike Sokol (@guest_186148)
1 year ago
Reply to  Duane R

Actually I’m not worried about the visuals of something from 30 miles away. I’m more concerned about its total impact on the environment. My point is that all energy production is dirty and messy, and we need to consider every aspect of it from cradle to grave. That includes how to recycle batteries, reclaiming the materials from dead solar panels, and what to do with damaged windmill blades. I simply want energy independence from other countries without destroying our own environment. There are no simple or cheap solutions.

Earl Balentine (@guest_185471)
1 year ago
Reply to  Crowman

That’s only part of the equation. EV will supersede any gas vehicle and still protect the environment.

Warren G (@guest_185604)
1 year ago
Reply to  Crowman

Actually they have begun recycling. And while not zero emission, a lot less emission than gas or diesel.

B N S (@guest_185514)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Hi Mike, I allways enjoy reading your articles! I do learn alot too! : ) To answer your question, I say No to all EV,s….

Bob p (@guest_185572)
1 year ago
Reply to  B N S

I do enjoy your articles also, but I also say no, I’m 79 and live in Leesburg, FL. The nearest recharging station with 6 rechargers is 6 miles from the house. I live in a 55+ community made up from mostly Park Model RVs with add on FL rooms making a total living space of 744 sq.ft. My electricity is provided by a 50A 120V RV plug so there isn’t the possibility of any in home charging other than a 20A extension cord. The exorbitant price of EVs and solar power, the fact I’d have to wait in line to park the car, take an ICE powered cab home and back 6+ hours later makes it rather difficult to consider an EV, and for towing maybe 15-20 years from now. For what it would cost to convert I can buy many gallons of gas even at todays prices and not have the hassle of dealing with it, I know my situation is not the norm, but there are 954 homes here just like mine in this park and FL is covered up with this type of homes, what are the proposals for us? At 6500 miles/yr an EV would actually be perfect for me, but I don’t see FL power companies spending millions of $$$ upgrading their grid to handle the new load.

Mike Sokol (@guest_185677)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

In western Maryland it appears that new housing developers are now required to include a 50-amp outlet, capable of powering a Level-2 EV charger, in each garage. That would be capable of fully recharging an EV overnight at around 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of equivalent gallons of gasoline.
This doesn’t help existing housing developments, but it’s a start in the right direction. Remember, houses back in the 1930s used to be supplied with a single 15-amp/120-volt service, and now a 200-amp/240-volt service is typical.

Crowman (@guest_185429)
1 year ago
Reply to  B N S

A Bigger one here as well.

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