Your Guide to Towing With an EV

A guide to explaining when you can tow with an electric vehicle (EV) and how to avoid damage to your car.

Last updated: Mar 15, 2024 5 min read

If your EV is type-approved to tow, you can pull a caravan, a trailer, or another car just as you would with a petrol or diesel car.

Always check the maximum weight you can tow beforehand, and consider that your range may be reduced as the battery works harder to move more weight.

Caravan

Reasons to tow with an EV

Are you planning to get a caravan? Or do you use a trailer to move large items? If you frequently tow and want to future-proof your next car by going electric, checking towing capabilities before a purchase is essential.

There are a few reasons why you may need to tow with an EV including:

  • Towing another car

  • Taking a caravan on holiday

  • Using a trailer to go to the tip or to move furniture

  • Towing the EV itself using another vehicle

Can an EV tow a car?

Not all EVs are approved for towing cars or other vehicles, so you should first check if yours is allowed to and what the advised maximum tow capacity is. As long as the car’s weight is within the capacity limit, you’re good to go.

If your EV is not certified for towing and you ignore the advice, you may cause damage or even compromise your safety. The additional weight can put a strain on brakes and suspension, leading to early wear and tear and damage.

Towing in a non-approved EV could also damage the battery. That’s because the energy from braking is repurposed and stored in the battery, a method called regenerative braking. When braking with additional weight, the excess energy produced can overwhelm the battery system.

Can an EV tow a caravan?

An EV can tow a caravan as long as it’s been type-approved to do so. This means it has gone through tests to ensure the braking system and suspension can handle the additional weight of a caravan, the electric car is safe to drive and unlikely to swerve.

The number of EVs that are allowed to tow is constantly increasing. Here are some of the best EVs for towing by capacity:

So if you enjoy taking a caravan on regular holidays around the country or even abroad, you can use a type-approved EV with the right tow capacity to go on trips. We recommend you plan for extra charging stops, because towing requires more energy than normal driving, so reduces the range.

Alternatively, hybrid cars like plug-in or full hybrids are more likely to be approved for towing, meaning you’ll have a larger choice with this type of electric vehicle. Hybrids give you the benefit of some battery-powered driving, while using an internal combustion engine for extended range on longer journeys. They may suit your needs better if towing heavy weights over long distances is a regular occurrence.

To help you better understand the pros and cons of each, read our hybrid and electric vehicle buying guide.


Which factors impact an EV’s ability to tow?

Regenerative braking

EVs use a system called regenerative braking. It takes energy from a car’s momentum and turns it into electricity when slowing down during braking, which is stored in the battery to improve efficiency and increase range.

When towing, an EV with a caravan, trailer or car attached will have more momentum. If your EV isn’t meant to tow and you slow down, the excess energy generated from braking could overwhelm and damage the powertrain, which includes the battery.

Brakes and suspension

If your EV’s brakes and suspension are not made for towing, the additional weight can put too much pressure on these mechanical parts. It could cause excessive wear and tear or damage.

In some cases, it may even increase your stopping distance, which could be dangerous if you’re trying to brake hard to avoid a collision.

Range

Towing with an EV, or any other vehicle for that matter, will decrease efficiency and therefore shorten your range. Pulling additional weight requires more energy, so your battery won’t take you as far as you’re used to.

Does the same apply to hybrid cars?

You’ll find a wider choice of hybrid cars that are approved for towing. They use a less powerful regenerative braking system, which is easier on the electrical parts and motor when braking with a caravan, trailer or car in tow.

The internal combustion engine in hybrid cars typically has a longer range, so would allow you to go further than an electric car when towing.


How do I know whether my EV can tow?

In most cases, you should be able to find out whether your EV can tow and what the capacity is by checking the handbook.

Another location that might reveal information on towing capabilities is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Plate. You’ll typically find this in a door opening or under the bonnet of your EV.

Experts recommend that drivers new to towing pull no more than 85% of the maximum capacity to make it easier to manoeuvre any attachments. Drivers with towing experience may feel comfortable enough to safely drive an EV and tow up to 100% of the allowed weight.

Is it possible to tow an EV?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tow an EV with another car. Unlike a manual combustion engine car, electric cars have no gearbox and no true neutral gear that disengages the transmission. The same applies to automatic petrol and diesel cars.

If you attempt to move an EV using a towbar and have it roll on its wheels, you’re likely to cause damage to the battery and wider electric system.

Rest assured, you won’t be stranded if you ever need to tow your EV! An electric car can still be moved by a flatbed tow truck in the unlikely event that you can’t drive it at all.