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Initial trailer pulling report - 90D and Airstream 22ft Bambi Sport

Discussion in 'Model X' started by JimVandegriff, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Last Tuesday my wife and I picked up a new 22 ft. long Airstream Bambi Sport trailer at Bay Area Airstream in Fairfield, CA. The GVWR (total weight) of this trailer is 4500 lbs. It is equipped with an equalizer hitch, and we towed it with our X 90D back to our home in Trinidad (far northern coastal) California over three days.
    We spent the first night near the Airstream dealership (to check for any initial problems) at the Vineyard RV park in Vacaville, CA. Weather was very hot in the Bay Area (106-109 F) where we were driving. The trailer towed very well. Initially, the trailer brake lights did not work with the Tesla, but the technicians knew that a special adapter was needed to the 7 cord plug which would enable the Tesla to read the LED lighting resistance as being present, and activate the lighting. This was done at the Airstream dealer. They had previously installed a Tekonsha prodigy 2 brake controller in the car while we were doing our walkthrough of the trailer.
    We had a problem with the water heater the first night. We brought the trailer back to the dealer's techs the next day, and they immediately found the problem (loose plug in the heater) and fixed it. We considered having a wireless back-up camera installed on the rear of the trailer with a screen on our Tesla's dash, but the service tech was not confident in wiring into the Tesla.
    The following photos give a hint of the adventures. You can see some of the Tesla superchargers we visited (Napa, Ukiah, Eureka - not yet ready). We had to take up two spaces in Napa, three spaces in Ukiah, and probably would use two spaces in Eureka.
    There are several screens showing energy usage. My major takeaway thus far is that speed kills. The slower we drive (we tried 45 mph, 50 mph, 55 mph) and our energy usage increased immensely with higher speed. This seems to bear out the numbers we have seen from the folks crossing Canada with their trailer (teslaxcanada.com)
    We will be leaving soon for a 3 month trip around the western USA, and we will keep up our reporting. One thing we have also noted is that we are EV evangelists on a daily basis. We have talked to numbers of people at each RV park, Tesla supercharger, and casual stops. We are enjoying the interactions. More to come.
    DSC_0021.jpg DSC_0089.jpg DSC_0093.jpg DSC_0121.jpg DSC_0131.jpg DSC_0132.jpg DSC_0136.jpg DSC_0139.jpg DSC_0166.jpg DSC_0168.jpg
     
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  2. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    Wow, so if you encounter any busier supercharger stations, you will have to unhitch to charge.

    They really should make a supercharger extension cord that trailer users could buy. Or install one trailer-friendly charger at popular superchargers
     
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  3. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    I assume unhitching will be the proper way to do this for some time to come. An extension cord is problematic for a number of reasons.
     
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  4. atr2016

    atr2016 Member

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    How's the range affected by the trailer? Does the software adjust the range calculations?
     
  5. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    I'd be curious to know both of these details too.
     
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  6. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Range is strongly impacted by the trailer. Slower speed aids range, higher speed lowers range. I posted the pictures of the trip screens to show the watt-hours per mile in various legs of the trip home. My impression (not really data driven yet) is that we can get 100 to 150 miles on a full 100% charge depending on topography, weather, and speed, with 130 miles being an average if traveling at 50 mph or less. (Without the trailer 100% charge estimates my mileage to be around 260+ miles.)
    Our plan is to get more data on our trip, try to use the superchargers during the day, and charge the vehicle at RV parks at night. The Tesla tows the trailer easily, power not being an issue, but it is astonishing to watch the consumption screen hit over 900 watt-hours per mile at times...regen really helps after hill climbs. The trip calculator clearly overestimates the range one should be left with at the destination point, but I haven't yet studied it in detail.
     
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  7. johnnyS

    johnnyS Member

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    We have been thinking about getting the 22 ft sport airstream trailer or the 19 ft. airstream trailer. I will follow your reports with interest.
     
  8. Eclectic

    Eclectic Member

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    If you haven't seen it already, the Edmunds long term test report on using the X to tow a trailer may be edifying...
     
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  9. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Yes, I have seen that report, and it raises good points especially about supercharger design. I just wrote a response and posted it on the edmunds' site using my limited experience. We hope to have a great deal more information available after our next much longer trip, and hope future supercharger site design will include spaces for trailer pulling Tesla owners.
     
  10. rdalcanto

    rdalcanto Member

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    I love our Teslas, but stopping every two hours for a full charge while towing is just not practical. Maybe when they have a 200D....
     
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  11. 182RG

    182RG Free The Service Manuals From Tyranny

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    Jim, thanks for your experimentation and posting your results. Since this effectively eliminates the use of Interstate highways at this speed, here's hoping for a future 150+ kWh pack and faster Supercharger in the future to make this practical.
     
  12. BrianC

    BrianC Member

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    I would consider the X to be more of a popup camper / local boat hauler. 100-150 miles just wont cut it if you go on a camping trip of any length.
     
  13. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    I think this is true for many people, but there may be a subset of campers (like my wife and I) who don't like driving long distances at one time and who have the time to do slower trips. I also agree with 182RG that a future larger battery pack, faster superchargers, (and better supercharger spaces designed for trailers) are all needed for mass acceptance.
    I spent last evening planning the first two weeks of our next trip (up the Oregon coast, then east on the Columbia River), and the X/Airstream combo will work well for that kind of trip. More data to follow.
     
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  14. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if a small camper/trailer more specifically designed to work with the X, with a shape that was optimized to work with the airflow coming off the car, would result in significantly less energy usage at speeds around 55mph. I am not an aerodynamic expert, but I suspect that real improvements could be achieved with careful design. Perhaps in the future, when there are hundreds of thousands of X's on the road, a trailer manufacturer will offer a special X-compatible model.
     
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  15. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    I wonder how much juice a trailer would draw on the road directly. When we tow with our truck, the trailer is connected via 7-pin and is drawing charge while we are driving to keep the fridge running and cold, etc. I have to assume that is a very small amount of juice overall, but I really have no idea.
     
  16. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Our Airstream draws on its (2) batteries, and the fridge is run by propane while not connected to shore power. We have two solar panels on the roof of the trailer (2x100 watts) to keep the batteries topped. There are so many variables (terrain, winds, trailer shape, weight, speed, etc.), it is daunting to me to figure out how to optimize the towing capacity of the X.
     
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  17. Hoffa

    Hoffa Member

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    Maybe a smaller, more aerodynamic camper like a [email protected] whould do the trick.... www.knaustabbert.de

    1(79).jpg
     
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  18. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    Our fridge was propane/electric as well. But you didn't run the propane part while driving for safety reasons, so if you wanted to keep it cold while on the road, it was set to electric mode and the trailer drew from the tow vehicle. You could let the fridge run on the trailer batteries I suppose, but we were dry camping and always wanted to maximize trailer battery time (which was terrible) before having to fire up the generator.

    You guys are at the new forefront, towing with the X! Rather like the original S owners who used to drive cross country before the supercharger network went in.
     
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  19. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Or this... it's folds up, takes little space, has no effect on range and no problems charging the car:
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Or this... it's folds up, takes little space, has no effect on range and no problems charging the car:
    [​IMG]
     
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