A video showing a Tesla Model 3 towing a 550-pound trailer recently provided a glimpse at how real world range is affected when the all-electric sedan pulls heavy items.
The real-world Model 3 towing test was conducted by Ben Sullins of the Teslanomics YouTube channel. Ben’s channel is known for reviews and lifestyle videos with electric vehicles, and this time he decided to clarify the many questions EV owners have about the real-world effect on range when towing with the Model 3.
Sullins’ Tesla Model 3 is officially rated with 325 miles of range, but his real-world average efficiency of about 78% usually meant that his vehicle is only able to travel about 253 miles per charge. It is essential to keep in mind that the range of an electric vehicle depends on several variables, including driving style, weather, climate control within the vehicle’s cabin, and weight inside the car. When more features of the vehicle are in use, the battery is going to be under more stress. More use of vehicle features will inevitably decrease the range.
The trailer used in the test is a converted World War II work truck or jeep that weighs 550 lbs. The trailer was stacked with an outdoor fold-out tent and its necessary rack for use that weighs an additional 200 extra pounds, making the total weight of the trailer about 750 lbs. Sullins’ total trip covered 26.7 miles of both inner-city streets and freeways both ways. This gives the test more validity as drivers likely use a combination of highways and city streets when towing a trailer.
Sullins noted that his total energy usage during the test was 12 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and his vehicle showed an average consumption of 448 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mile). This energy output differs from his normal driving efficiency, as his car showed an average consumption of 320 Wh/mi when it traversed the same route without a trailer.
These figures suggest that the additional weight from the trailer resulted in a 40% loss in range, which translates to a 49% efficiency rate. With this in mind, Sullins noted that with the 750-lb WWII trailer, his Model 3 would have a total real-world range of 160 miles. This is ample for the casual weekend camping trip, but likely challenging for inter-state long-distance travel.
As the Teslanomics host emphasized, there are many variables involved when it comes to electric vehicles and their efficiency. The Tesla Model 3 in the video, for example, seemed to be equipped with Turbine Wheels, which are larger and not specifically designed for the Model 3. The average speed of the vehicle during the trip also played a factor in the Model 3’s efficiency while towing. As noted by commenters on Sullins’ video, electric car towing veterans from countries such as Norway usually travel at about 55 mph when they are pulling heavy loads to help maximize range.
While this decrease in range is expected and inconvenient, there are plenty of precautions Tesla drivers can take to avoid the troubles that come with towing. Luckily, Superchargers are readily available, and Tesla has worked diligently to increase the presence of charging stations across the world.
If a trailer or other item that needs to be towed is attached to a Tesla, expect decreases in range and plan by stopping at Superchargers on the way. Tesla’s in-car trip planning software will get drivers to their destinations in the most efficient way possible, even if the vehicle is towing a heavy trailer.
Watch Ben Sullins’ video on the Model 3’s range when towing a 750-lb trailer below.