Don't expect to go much further than 100 miles on a single charge.
Electric vehicles and towing have never really been friendly companions. Despite vastly more capable EVs and something like the Tesla Model X being capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds, many EVs aren't rated to tow anything at all, which can be a serious dealbreaker for extended road trips or more adventurous buyers with an appreciation for the great outdoors.
Even more of an unknown has been the impact on an EV's range when towing. We now have something more concrete to go on after the Audi e-Tron undertook a 504-mile trip while hauling a trailer that weighed 4,000 lbs as part of Fully Charged LIVE, an event showcasing the latest EV technologies. The results show that the e-tron's range was effectively halved.
With an EPA-rated combined (and unladen) range of just over 200 miles under regular driving conditions, the weight of the trailer reduced that to about 105 miles, not helped by the chilly 35-degree temperatures while completing the trip which started in Tulsa, Oklahoma and concluded in Austin, Texas. The reduced range is based on the e-tron's average of 769 watt-hours per mile while being driven at an average speed of 60 mph.
As you can imagine, stopping every 105 miles isn't always practical, even if the 150kW fast-chargers used along the route needed only 30 minutes to get the Audi's battery back up to 80 percent. "EVs have long been a community-driven technology, as evidenced by the initiative of the Oklahoma Electric Auto Association to bring this iconic vehicle to our event," said the US presenter of Fully Charged Live, Chelsea Sexton.
Making the trip notable was what the Audi was actually towing: none other than the infamous GM EV1, ultimately the first mass-produced electric car released back in the 1990s. "We wanted to pay tribute to the EV that started it all, with the Audi e-tron towing it on our 500-mile journey from Tulsa to Austin," explained Cody Thacker, director of Audi ONE.
While we commend Audi for ensuring that its first all-electric model is legitimately capable of towing a sizable load in adverse weather conditions, the reality is that owners should be aware of the range limitations associated with EVs when towing. Still, it's another positive step forward for electric vehicles.