Towing an Electric Vehicle behind your Motor Home
It's very common for RVer's, especially motor home users to tow a smaller fuel efficient vehicle behind their rig to use while when they get to their destination. Jeeps, compact cars and even sports cars were often the vehicle of choice. Now, many are looking into the possibility of towing an electric vehicle instead of a gas powered vehicle.
Electric vehicles or even hybrid cars can provide an environmentally friendly choice, but do introduce a few problems that should be considered. First of course is how to charge your vehicle. This problem is being addressed by many of the better RV parks. One example is Pioneer RV Park in Northern California who chose a 70 amp Telsa EV charging station and can also offer their guests 20amp, 30amp and 50amp plugs.
Another problem that should be considered is how tow friendly the electric vehicle is. While electric hybrid vehicles can be shifted into neutral and towed like other cars that is not always the case with Electric vehicles.
Problems with towing an electric vehicle (EV)
Before choosing an electric vehicle to use for towing behind your motor home you should do some research first. Many full electric vehicles do not provide a manner to disconnect the drive wheels from the motor. While this is considered a more efficient method of transferring the power it also means that if you tow the vehicle with the drive wheels on the ground the motor will be spinning the entire time.
Those that do allow the drive wheels to be fully disconnected require the vehicle to be turned on to be shifted into its “neutral”. Either way, you should be sure of the manufacturer's recommendation before relying on the ability to tow the vehicle. For example while Chevy say you can tow their 2011 Volt with the front tires off the ground (possible using a cradle), they recommend that that it is towed on a flat bed truck, which is not very practical for the motor home users wanting to tow it behind.
Why the problem
Normally when an electric vehicle is being used the motor is cooled by the vehicles cooling system. When turned off this system is not in operation. Towing the vehicle causes much of the same friction and the motor starts to heat up, without the cooling system it doesn't take too many miles before the motor starts to overheat and get damaged.
Because of this overheating problem you do need to make sure that the drive wheels are not touching the ground while you tow the vehicle, not a show stopper, just something that needs to be addressed. This can make setting up the vehicle to be towed take a little longer and require more preparation.
Other things to consider about electric vehicles
Another thing to consider while purchasing an electric vehicle is the distance you will be able to drive. Once again back to the Chevy volt, Chevy states you can get about 35 miles on a full charge. This is pretty common with most electric vehicles. Not a problem if you are planning to remain fairly close to the RV campground, but a little problem if you are planning day trips.
Chevy addresses this problem with an addition of a gas tank and an onboard gas generator. This combination will allow you to go up to 375 additional miles before needing a refill and also help keep you from getting stranded if your batteries die and you are a distance from a charging station.
Electric, Gas or Hybrid
Quite a choice and actually it's nice to at least have the choice. Electric is no doubt the future of vehicles and many manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon and giving us more options and greatly improving the technology with each new model year. So yes, gas, electric or hybrid car, the choice is now up to you.