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Model 3 - Towing a Caravan

UrbanSplash

Member
Nov 10, 2019
392
167
UK
Hi

New on here, with a Model 3 LR on order, with tow hitch. I have been doing some research regarding towing a caravan, and would welcome any thoughts/advice on the following:

There are certainly many barriers to being able tow a caravan and significantly there is only 1 caravan I could actually consider. Knaus Travelino, with a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass of 900kg. Things to consider:
  • It is within the towing capability of the car (Capable of towing 910kg)
  • Within the '85% rule' for matching
  • Combined gross weight of 2265 + Caravan MTPLM of 900 combined is less than B+E license requirements over 3500
However, the following are uncertain:
  • No idea on caravan nose weight, with a car max permitted of 50kg ish.
  • Regarding electrics, M3 manual states 'pins 9-13 are not supported at this time because Model 3 is not currently equipped with brake controllers'. However;
  • 'For trailers weighing more than 750 kg, a separate trailer braking system with an independent controller must be used'.
Other considerations:
  • Range impact, I would assume half towing a big white box
  • Supercharger access, unhitch every time when towing could be an issue
  • Charging the car when on campsite. 3 pin socket in caravan wont be able to charge the car (and likely annoy the site owners anyway)
Seems maybe too many compromises/technical limitations :(
 

Cwmwd

Member
Sep 12, 2019
180
92
Wales/UK
Supercharger access, unhitch every time when towing could be an issue

Some SuperChargers have a stall at the end of the row where you can pull up alongside with a trailer. Not sure if this is indicated on the in-car navigation or not and if it's a universal thing, now that I've thought about it I've mainly seen them on videos/pictures from the US.

Charging the car when on campsite

Not a camper so this might be missleading, but the supplied UMC will come with a blue 16A commando adapter and you can also order the larger red 32A one (see here for more discussion on that), would these work on a berth hook-up?

Failing that, look for some nearby destination chargers?
 

Jason71

Active Member
May 8, 2019
2,837
2,712
Shropshire
Bjorn Nyland has done a lot of tests on towing with Teslas including a large trailer on a Model 3. You might want to check out some of his videos:

But it is definitely an edge case not sure i would get an EV right now if I wanted to do a lot of towing There are definitely a lot of compromises to be made.
 

Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
3,789
2,897
Scotland
Just opinion ....
Though it's technically possible to use LR M3 to tow a caravan (and according to youtube testers it can easily pull weight beyond its rated spec) the practicalities that you describe are very serious issues. If someone is towing a caravan then they are likely to be travelling a fair distance so the anticipated "hit" on range and frequency of charging and awkwardness of unhitching etc is going to require some determination and readiness to face compromises. That will not just impact the dedicated EV owner who may be prepared for these compromises but your other half and family members who maybe didn't sign up for the same challenges ... they just want a nice holiday break with the least hassle. If it's just you and your partner and you are both fully committed to pushing the boundaries of EV use then plan for the disadvantages and go for it!
 

Glan gluaisne

Supporting Member
Sep 11, 2019
2,782
2,708
UK
Not a camper so this might be missleading, but the supplied UMC will come with a blue 16A commando adapter and you can also order the larger red 32A one (see here for more discussion on that), would these work on a berth hook-up?

The required 32 A commando plug is blue, rather than red.

The colour of commando connectors indicates the supply voltage, so yellow is 100 VAC to 130 VAC, blue is 200 VAC to 250 VAC and red is 300 VAC to 480 VAC. In addition. red connectors are often 3 phase, with five pins rather than three pins. Athough any of the connector colours can be either 5 in or 3 pin, three phase supplies that don't exceed 250 VAC aren't that common, so 5 pin yellow or blue connectors aren't that common .
 
  • Informative
Reactions: CMc1 and Cwmwd

SirRob

Member
Aug 8, 2019
120
130
Not-Required
I raised this on another forum a while back and was shot down for suggesting that most caravaners would travel reasonable distance when going on Holiday. I also raised many of the same concerns that the OP suggested.

I think the towbar is useful for small utility trailers but when the Model X doesn't look like a particularly good tow car for a caravan, I can't see how the Model 3 would be anything other than considerably worse.
 

Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
3,789
2,897
Scotland
Has anyone on this forum posted about their towing experiences with an actual caravan as against a low profile glider trailer or a small general purpose trailer? (Not relevant to my own use as I only intend using small trailer(s) for short distances.) I suspect that by the time the tow bar cars were being delivered in the UK the summer was pretty much over.
 

Glan gluaisne

Supporting Member
Sep 11, 2019
2,782
2,708
UK
Thanks for the correction and clarification. :)

No worries, just thought someone might accidentally get the wrong colour and then find out that they aren't interchangeable (i.e a red commando plug won't physically plug into a blue socket - they are keyed differently).
 

Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
813
534
EDI
Fellow tow'er here, with my M3, but yet to actually hook up. I do (smallish, light) boats rather than caravans. Your charging might not be as bad as you think:
  • a Caravan should have a nosewheel to take the pain out of hitching/unhitching right?
  • Most SC's are in carparks anyway so not too bad for storing the 'van for 30 mins while you charge.
  • Your range impact may not be so bad if you are sticking to the speed limit?
  • I charge off a blue commando at home just now, and use a comando extension for flexibility. Completely acceptable for destination charging at 4KW. You may have to negotiate with the park owner for the use of a second point tho (one for the car, one for the van).
  • How far are you planning on going? I know lots of people that do camping as an easy option within fairly local distances. If that's you, an extra stop with some hassle might not matter. If on the other hand you are aiming for the south of France, the park, unhich, charge routine could get old pretty quick.
  • Have a think about how far off the motorway network you want to get. Scotland is well covered for chargers (but poolry supplied for superchargers), england has a good motorway network coverage but going off that seems a real hassle. Make sure you can manage the round trip to somewhere and back to the motorway, or that you know there is charging at your destination.
  • Breakout a betterrouteplanner and plug in some trips using the W/mile numbers from the above video and other % increases you might have seen. Use the max speed limiter to account for how legal you are likely to be. See how often you might need to stop on actual trips you might take and decide if you and fellow travelers will support it.
2 final points... First, have you seen these? Go-Pods - the contemporary light touring caravan I saw one when refueling (SC + pizza stop in Avimore) a month ago and I thought it looked an awesome inbetween answer for camping/caravaning.

Finally, you have to accept this is early adopter tech. Most things can be worked around, but with varying levels of inconvienence. OTOH, you will be breaking new ground for the EV world, so make sure to document it with lots of pics and writeups of sucesses and problems overcome.
 

UrbanSplash

Member
Nov 10, 2019
392
167
UK
Hi all,

thanks so much for the responses so far, so many helpful folks on here.! So 'technically', it looks like its a possibility to tow a caravan up to 900kg and 'legally'. Only thing I don't understand is the comment in the manual regarding 'braked trailers over 750kg', with a limitation of the all pins not being utilised.

So if the technical and legal aspects are sound, then it may come down to practicalities such as range and charging en route. Which I appreciate might be a pain, or might be ok with good planning. Also, it not an 'ideal' towcar. Unlike my current car which is a Discovery 5. But, you have to start somewhere doing something a bit unusual! For charging on site, it seems the Caravan and Motorhome Club do allow charging on pitches, not directly from the post, but from the 3 pin socket in/on the caravan. I've seen those go pods, they are ace, with a MTPLM of 750kg.

Interesting...
 

UrbanSplash

Member
Nov 10, 2019
392
167
UK
Has anyone on this forum posted about their towing experiences with an actual caravan as against a low profile glider trailer or a small general purpose trailer? (Not relevant to my own use as I only intend using small trailer(s) for short distances.) I suspect that by the time the tow bar cars were being delivered in the UK the summer was pretty much over.

Probably a lack on caravans on the market 900kg or less. The Knaus Travelino is the only 'proper' caravan I have seen available. Never seen one in person as they are fairly new. Also £20k. Yikes!
 

Jason71

Active Member
May 8, 2019
2,837
2,712
Shropshire
Hi all,

thanks so much for the responses so far, so many helpful folks on here.! So 'technically', it looks like its a possibility to tow a caravan up to 900kg and 'legally'. Only thing I don't understand is the comment in the manual regarding 'braked trailers over 750kg', with a limitation of the all pins not being utilised.

So if the technical and legal aspects are sound, then it may come down to practicalities such as range and charging en route. Which I appreciate might be a pain, or might be ok with good planning. Also, it not an 'ideal' towcar. Unlike my current car which is a Discovery 5. But, you have to start somewhere doing something a bit unusual! For charging on site, it seems the Caravan and Motorhome Club do allow charging on pitches, not directly from the post, but from the 3 pin socket in/on the caravan. I've seen those go pods, they are ace, with a MTPLM of 750kg.

Interesting...
I'm not a regular camper/carivaning but several sites I have been to have significant limits on the power usage of a pitch. Like a trip. Not saying the car will trip it but If the car is drawing 2KW constantly that may not leave you much for other uses. May need to stop it every time you boil the kettle or use a hairdryer.
On the other side of the coin. If sufficient power exists I have been wondering if it would be possible to utilise the AC or the heating system of the car to heat or cool a tent/caravan using a hose/window duct of the type used by portable AC systems?
 

UrbanSplash

Member
Nov 10, 2019
392
167
UK
I need to look into what would trip the power on a standard pitch, but if this becomes a reality, the car would likely be charged through the night when no other power was being used. maybe a few lights, which as LEDs would presumably not use much. It seems some folks are extremely upset when they see hybrid cars plugged into caravans, but it is generally allowed as far as I can see. Imagine the storm using some of the features of the car would cause :)
 

AndrewTS

Member
Jun 9, 2020
8
1
UK
Hi all, does anyone know whether the detachable panel at the underside rear of a M3 is on all versions and cars or just the versions that have a tow bar fitted?
 

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