Why Teslas Are Bad At Towing

Jason Fenske does a nice job explaining why the Cybertruck will not tow well: high efficiency gives electric vehicles competitive ranges despite their batteries’ low energy capacity, but also means that even a light, 5,000 pound trailer will slash that figure. In distance = energy / force, a small numerator (low capacity) causes range to drop off much faster as the denominator (towed weight) increases. See the blue graph below, which depicts range (the y-axis) as a function of towed weight (the x-axis). Traditional vehicles, although less efficient, have vast energy stores; in their case, a high numerator means the denominator has much less of an impact as it increases. See this in the green graph.

Force graph with a high versus low numerator

As I said about the Cybertruck last week, “it’s not a very good sportscar, and it’s not a very good truck.” I still think electric vehicles will revolutionize the overland space, but it will take years for the batteries to get there.

Update on February 18, 2020: Jalopnik posted a quick writeup on an Audi E-Tron’s range with and without a large trailer. The trailer cut range in half. See the post here: An Audi E-Tron Towed A GM EV1 From Tulsa To Austin, Range Was Affected