By Mike Sokol
I’ve been working on a really interesting project while stuck at home for the last 15 months. Since I’ve had numerous questions about Electric Vehicles being used to tow RVs, I’ve made the pitch to several RV and EV manufacturers about giving me loaner vehicles for the next year so I can do testing, and they said YES! It’s called GoGreenRV and you’ll be seeing a lot more about this project here in the coming months.
My 501(c)(3) corporation
As you may be aware, last year I turned No∼Shock∼Zone into a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation so I could gather funds to study advanced electrical topics in depth. And that’s been moving along rather nicely, so far.
But since the automobile manufacturers are promoting a changeover to electric vehicles within the next 10 years, my next idea was to create a series of road tests to determine the practicality of EV trucks and SUVs being used to tow small and medium-sized RV trailers. I’ll be studying the impact of EV charging on the US power grid, availability of Lithium to build the batteries, even first responder safety during EV accidents.
What am I towing?
I already have two appropriate RVs lined up for testing this summer and fall. I’m working on procuring a loaner F-150 Lightning pickup to tow a medium-sized RV trailer, as well as a VW ID.4 SUV to tow a small RV trailer.
I’ve been to the mothership!
In fact, I just drove to Goshen, Indiana, this week to pick up my first loaner RV, a really cool Rockwood Geo Pro G19FBTH trailer for testing.
This toy hauler trailer weighs in at less than 3,500 pounds dry, so it’s ideal for a towing test of the new Ford F-150 electric truck, both loaded and unloaded.
And yes, I’m bringing it to the FROG Rally in August, and the Hershey show in September, and a bunch more rallies and shows, so you’ll get to see it (and me) in the flesh, along with its Electric towing vehicle.
In two weeks I’ll pick up my second, smaller RV, which I’ll announce in a few weeks once I have it in my hot little hands. But at less than 1,800 pounds, it would be perfect to tow behind any full-size SUV – be it gas, hybrid or electric. I’m trying for all-electric, so as soon as Volkswagen delivers my test ID.4 I’ll be ready for testing.
What am I testing?
For both the F-150 Lightning and the Volkswagen ID.4, I’ll be testing the actual towing mileage and performance under a variety of conditions. I’ll also test how long it takes to charge an Electric Truck or SUV at a variety of charging stations. In addition, I’ll demonstrate how you can charge them at home or in a campground. I’ll calculate how much your electricity cost would be compared to gasoline- or diesel-equipped tow vehicles. Basically, I’m testing everything I can think of in my GoGreenRV project.
On the road again…
Yup, I’ve been pretty much stuck at home for the last 15 months, so I’m ready to get back on the road. If all goes as planned, I’ll use one of these Electric Vehicles to tow an RV on a cross-country trip from Maryland to the West Coast this summer and fall. I’ll be gathering real-world data along the way for my GoGreenRV project, as well as tons of pictures and videos. I may even make two trips from Maryland to California over the next year, so I’ll get to compare both types of vehicles with trailers for towing ability. But baby steps first.
Expect to see more about GoGreenRV in a formal press release soon. But this will also be an “Explore America in an EV Tour”. And as you all well know, on a road trip anything can happen.
See you on the road!
Let’s play (and drive) safe out there….
Ya, I think these EV’s are a great idea. Reduce all that noise pollution and support Overseas Mining Operations to supply the much needed raw materials to build the batteries and ship the product around the world on diesel powered ships. And when the Brownouts start happening and the AC’s all die, we could build some more fossil fuel Power Plants. Ya, Maybe take a copy from the new ones being built in China where all the lithium for the batteries is being mined. But anyway, we will reduce that evil CO2 that keeps those darn plants growing and has a hand in life in general. But hey, who cares about such trivial matters?
DennisD – while it is true that the US currently depends on other countries for Lithium, they’ve recently discovered that the Salton Sea in California (a 343 square mile man-made lake that’s now a dead sea) has a lot of Lithium in the brine water they were pumping out. There’s now pilot plants working on extracting it, which could provide enough Lithium to supply not only our own needs, but 30% of the world’s need for Lithium. If this works, then the US would be a world supplier of Lithium, and not need to import it. Read this: https://www.desertsun.com/story/tech/science/energy/2021/02/26/california-technically-and-commercially-feasible-extract-lithium-brine-geothermal-plants-already-pul/6839875002/
Perhaps a bigger concern is that electric vehicles are rarely towable. Why not? Don’t they just need a motor disconnect switch to freewheel? Why none have offered this? Could you do an article on this?
Actually, I’ve already spoken to a few EV engineers about the possibility of rewriting the software in the EV vehicle to create a TOAD Mode. Ideally, the EV Toad would communicate with the tow vehicle via the CAN bus and could apply its regenerative braking when you need to slow down, and only apply friction brakes when needed. If that’s possible, you could start a trip with an EV Toad that was fully discharged, charge it only during braking cycles, and arrive with a full battery. So instead of that energy ending up as waste heat in your brake pads, it would be put into your EV’s battery. Less impact at campgrounds, and better for everyone.
Why not communicate with the Toad to get a little help going up the hills as well?
Using a trailer to push your tow vehicle would require a lot of experimentation. I think a better option would be to have additional batteries in the RV trailer that could extend the range of an electric tow vehicle. That’s part of my GGRV study.
Petroleum makes the world a better place! Electrical, clean water and worldwide jobs depend on plentiful oil! In the United States alone, there are OVER 530 years of known oil reserves, and some geologists believe that can be doubled with further exploration. We as a nation have such immense and vast land, with California as an example the most populous state yet we only occupy 5.6% of the land. Electric may have its day come, but it is the early stage yet with both lack of infrastructure to charge and only 1.2% of ALL vehicles sold are electric- with huge tax credits – the average American is not rushing to own one. In reality freedom of choice still matters, most of us, especially RV Owners, choose petroleum. It is sad that politics took us down from an oil independent nation to now an importer of foreign oil?! Not good for our country security or the freedoms we enjoy under our Constitutional Republic!
Ooooh, Common Sense. Is that even legal any longer?
Polls show a majority of Americans support the move to electric vehicles.
We are a net energy exporter, have been for years. We haven’t been dependent on foreign oil for over a decade. We *were* oil dependent in the last quarter of the 20th Century, when we were guzzling it and not shifting to more viable alternatives.
The amount of “known reserves” you are quoting is mostly made up of oil that is not economical to extract.
The greatest threat to our Constitutional Republic is misinformation and hysteria, and we had enough of that the last four years to last several lifetimes.
I think this is an excellent discussion, not talking down EVs at all. All points are valid. Some states oppose expanding their electric power grid, more EVs, no more power available and brownouts already. Some pieces of the puzzle don’t fit. Campgrounds have a good reason to charge for electric usage.
Not to muddy the water, but it’s worth noting that car companies are still perfecting hydrogen power and in Europe, heavy fleets are experimenting with hydrogen already. I believe there’s more to come on this.
I’m studying everything I can think of including hydrogen and propane fuel cells, non-contact induction charging your EV, Lithium recovery from the brine being pumped out of the Salton Sea, etc… As I’ve noted, this is at least a 2-year study and I’m not sure of the scope of it yet. So I’m asking a number of foundations for grants so I can dedicate lots of time to this important study.
Rock on, Mike!
Ditto Mike. Can’t wait to see your fact-based results. Come through Mesquite, NV on your cross country trip. July would be a good time. 110 degrees. Let’s test the EV batteries and RV air conditioner!
You’re exactly right. Ambient air temperature is likely to affect towing range.