Regenerative braking makes a bigger difference than you may expect.
The obsession with range for battery-electric vehicles is an understandable one. Charging speeds have come down, but it still takes a lot longer than filling up with gas. And, while charging infrastructure continues to improve, it's still an issue in outlying areas. But it turns out that there's another way to juice up your Tesla Model 3's nearly dead battery if you aren't close to a charger. All you need is a towing strap, about six or so miles of road, and an old Toyota Camry. David Andreyev, also known as Cyber Hooligan on YouTube, sent us a new video to show us how all this was possible.
The secret, if you haven't figured it out by now, is regenerative braking, whereby the action of stopping the EV recaptures energy that can be used to charge the battery. That's where the Camry comes in. Andreyev and his friends towed the Model 3 Standard Range Plus rear-wheel-drive model, which had a battery drained to just 1%, and were immediately able to gain three miles of range after half a mile of being towed. That increased to seven miles of range after just one mile of towing. After 6.2 miles of towing, the Tesla's range had increased from three miles to 40, allowing it to be driven to several more superchargers in the vicinity.
The experiment is a great showcase for the effectiveness of regenerative braking, even if it's not the most efficient means of charging a Tesla's battery if you take into account what the V6 Camry's consumption must have been over those 6.2 miles. Andreyev could not confirm the Camry's consumption over the duration of the test but he did say he would be recreating the same test with a newer truck to gauge what the mpg would be since this Camry doesn't have a built-in consumption calculator. Although the new Lucid Air can manage a superb 520 miles on a full charge, most EVs are far behind that. We expect range will continue to come under the spotlight as gas engines are phased out. In the meantime, it's a wise idea to keep a tow strap in your EV if the worst happens.