Electric cars that can tow aren’t as common as you might think. Here’s why.

If you enjoy caravanning, need to travel with a horsebox, or have kayaks that you need to get to the water, you need a car that can tow heavy loads with ease.

While electric cars can technically cope with towing, that isn’t the whole story. Find out more about type approval, weight limits and how they affect your ability to tow with an electric car.

Can you tow with an electric car?

On paper, electric cars look like a good bet for towing heavier loads. With instant torque from a standstill and low refuelling costs, you’d think they could do a better job than diesel or petrol cars. However, whether or not you can tow with an electric car depends on the model.

Before any car is legally allowed to tow a trailer, caravan or anything else, it needs to have something called type approval or homologation, a process of testing that ensures a car meets all the requirements to be driven on UK roads.

The car will also need a type-approved hitch that is of good quality and that has been specifically designed for that car. Fitting a towbar and towing a trailer where these haven’t been type-approved could get you in trouble with the police, or at the very least invalidate your insurance and warranty.

As it stands, many hybrid and electric cars can’t legally tow a caravan, or any trailer at all, as manufacturers haven’t sought type-approval from the authorities. Towing isn’t an area that has been considered a priority for electric car drivers.

So if you’re looking at whether an electric car can tow a trailer or caravan, the first thing to check is whether the specific make has been type approved.

Why are most electric cars unsuitable for towing a caravan?

Most electric cars haven’t been designed with towing a caravan in mind. They’re great for short city trips and driving in towns, but not so great for longer journeys when towing heavy loads.

Electric cars are comparatively heavy due to the weight of their batteries, meaning the brakes and suspension already have to work harder. And because of the way regenerative braking works by using the momentum of slowing down to recharge the battery, there are concerns that excessive energy generated by the heavier weight of towing a caravan and braking could damage the car.

Pulling a heavy load would also have a significant impact on the car’s range and efficiency.

What electric cars can tow a caravan?

When you’re looking at whether you can tow a caravan with an electric or hybrid car, you’ll need to choose your model carefully. Only a handful of electric cars are certified to pull a caravan or other trailer, including models from Tesla, Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar.

Because hybrid cars use a combination of engine power and electric, they’re less affected by these issues.

Several hybrid plug-ins have been certified for towing, including the Volvo XC60 and XC90 Recharge, the BMW X5 hybrid and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

What is an electric car’s towing capacity?

Towing capacity is the heaviest weight your car can pull both legally and safely. This is a critical measure when you’re pulling heavy loads, as trying to tow too heavy a weight can cause a trailer to sway and be hazardous to yourself and other road users.

You’ll need to know the weight of your loaded caravan or trailer to work out if your car has the capacity to tow it. For the electric cars that can legally tow in the UK, some have excellent capacity that should easily handle most trailer weights:

  • The Tesla Model X can pull 2,270kg, and includes a ‘trailer mode’ that switches off some of the car’s driver-assistance features and can slow down the car if it detects trailer swaying.
  • The Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC can tow up to 1,800kg.
  • The Polestar 2 has a towing capacity of up to 1,500kg.
  • The Tesla Model 3, VW ID.4 family SUV and the Skoda Enyaq iV can tow up to 1,000kg.
  • The Jaguar i-Pace can handle a maximum of 750kg.

Other cars are coming onto the market with towing capability all the time, and new developments mean that issues of range will decrease over time.

If you do want to use your electric car for towing, take time to find out all the details before you buy, to make sure you’ll be able to legally and safely get on with the leisure activities you enjoy.