Illustration of an EV towing a motorcycle


Can Electric Vehicles Tow?

Depending on vehicle size and weight capacity, EVs can indeed tow campers, trailers, and even other vehicles

Most people buying an electric vehicle (EV) want to know how it stacks up to the gasoline-powered (internal combustion) cars they are used to. One question frequently asked is, "Can electric vehicles tow trailers, boats, and other things?" The short answer is yes. The longer answer is still yes, but with some caveats.

The Types of EVs That Can Tow

An EV is just as sturdy as the gas-powered car next to it, with a model for almost every budget these days. Just like other types of cars, most EVs can tow at least a lightweight load.

Not every gasoline-powered car on the road, however, is capable of towing heavy loads such as other vehicles or trailers. It's the same with an EV.

That's because the smaller any car is, the less likely it's capable of towing a heavy load. All cars have weight ratings that dictate how much they can safely tow; even those with very low ratings still might be able to tow a lightweight bike trailer or something similar.

It's the same with EVs. EV manufacturers have taken towing into consideration and nearly all EVs can physically tow a trailer of some sort. The key issue ultimately comes down to weight ratings.

If you think you'll need to tow things with your EV, be sure to check for the associated towing package for your vehicle. These add a hitch and other hardware to the EV, plus can provide software patches as needed to manage any towing strain on the car.

Illustration of an EV truck hybrid towing a motorcycle trailer.
EVs can tow both small and large loads depending on weight capacity ratings.

Lyudinka/Getty Images

What to Look For When Gauging EV Towing Capacity

When you're looking at purchasing an EV, check for the vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and gross combined weight rating (GCWR). These numbers will give you good insights into how much weight the particular model you're looking at can tow.

  • GVWR: This is the vehicle's maximum loaded weight (with passengers and cargo).
  • GCWR: This is the vehicle's maximum loaded weight plus the loaded weight of a trailer.

EVs are heavy by nature due to the battery pack weight; the GVWR and GCWR represent the heaviest weight the EV can safely operate. These weights factor in things like braking distances, maneuverability, and driving range. The more weight involved, the more time drivers require to make adjustments on the road.

So how much an EV can tow will depend upon the specific make and model involved. Towing a lightweight bike trailer is very different from towing a heavy horse trailer, for example, or another vehicle.

Just like with any other car, knowing what you need to tow before you buy is important. An SUV or truck is likely a better EV option than a smaller, compact EV for some people but if you never need to tow heavy weights, the type of EV you purchase wouldn't be much of an issue.

A vintage Chevrolet towing a camper.
Towing something with a car is an American pastime that EVs are quickly becoming part of.

Stuart Lutz/Gado/Getty

How Towing Impacts Range

The average internal combustion vehicle, when towing, loses about 40 percent of its fuel economy, according to HowStuffWorks. Some manufacturers estimate that EV range can drop by as much as 40 to 50 percent when an EV tows a trailer.

Many manufacturers offer the option to purchase a battery upgrade. These can substantially increase range, so if you plan to tow frequently this could be a smart option to add in.

While this estimate is, of course, impacted by the actual weight your EV is towing plus the drag involved (effect of the wind against the vehicle), range is an important towing consideration regardless.

The type of tow also impacts range: A closed hauling trailer is likely to produce more drag than an open-bed trailer. The more drag introduced, the tougher the pull is for the EV and the faster range will drop.

Understanding things like this just means you need to plan your road trip carefully and include charging stops early and often if you're going very far.

  • Can an electric car be towed?

    Yes, but only on a flatbed truck or trailer. That's because an EV doesn't have a transmission, so putting it into neutral for towing can cause damage. Flatbed trucks are the best option since the EV's wheels won't move to generate power that won't be used. RV owners should use only a flatbed-type trailer for towing recreational EVs.

  • How much weight can an EV tow?

    The answer to this lies very specifically within the EV itself. A large, newer model truck or SUV might be able to tow as much at 10,000 to 20,000 pounds while a more compact EV might be able to tow 1,500 to 2,000 pounds.