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EVs & Caravans

June 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood

 

 

Car Towing A Caravan. A brown car towing a large caravan on an empty road royalty free stock image

 

What will the future of caravanning holidays look like when our cars are electric?

 

We are all aware of the severe range restrictions of EVs. Although the stated range of a car may typically be around 200 miles, the practical range will probably be little more than 100, allowing for a sensible safety reserve. Estimates suggest, however, that towing a caravan reduces the range by half, maybe as little therefore as 50 miles.

What then are holidaymakers supposed to do if they want to travel, say, to Cornwall? A 300-mile trip would require six recharging stops, each probably involving at least two to three hours spent in queues. (Just think typical bank holiday traffic!).

In practice, the journey would probably take three or four days, with recharging taking place at overnight camp sites. By the time you got to Cornwall, it would be time to come home!

There are further problems. You cannot automatically assume that your new EV will even be capable of towing. Indeed most EVs are not legally allowed to tow at all. One problem is the weight of the battery, which naturally restricts the weight the car can tow. There is also the problem of the strain put on certain components, such as the brakes and the electric powertrain.

Although you in reality already need a reasonably sized and powerful petrol/diesel to tow your caravan, you would have to upmarket to something like a Tesla to get an electric replacement, something way out of the range of most drivers.

And the future of caravanning?

An authentic Gypsy Caravan imported by the Thompsons

69 Comments
  1. Joe Public permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:40 pm

    The future of caravanning:

  2. trevorshurmer permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:42 pm

    Well done Paul, thanks, I have had this very discussion with friends who have caravans. It amazes me that this question was not at the forefront. After all, we are encouraged to holiday in the UK and reports suggest that sales are increasing significantly. It will be very interesting to see what happens.

    • trevorshurmer permalink
      June 17, 2021 5:43 pm

      Sorry, meant outset, not forefront………

    • Tonyb permalink
      June 17, 2021 10:32 pm

      As I live in Devon I am heartbroken at the idea that caravans may not be able to travel far enough to get here and clog up our roads

      • 186no permalink
        June 20, 2021 12:06 pm

        I understand that the levelling up agenda will include restitution of “Beeching” rail corridors and the massive expansion of new ones; these will be built for “caravan” trains to take people from all over the UK to holiday destinations which are reachable from the rail head hubs, which will have EV charging points, but only with fully EV vehicles plus the caravan – a 25 mile radius limit has been mandated. The intention is to put the rail heads underground – the plan being to offer solar panel fields an extra revenue flow when the sudsidy is dropped and they become financially unsustainable. This is called the “Carrie” plan and is designed to deal with the ban on holidays abroad and the new ferries crossing the channel and the North Sea which will be for foot passengers only. From government cost benefit analyses I have seen (The “Symonds” report) a tenfold increase “safe space” socially distanced holidays in the South West and especially Devon is envisaged as the lower end of the expected growth ( this is to be expected as they will be subsidised by a subsidy currently being devised by a Treasury official by the name of Clarkson). The plan also envisages improvements in food biosecurity and to prevent any possibility of cross contamination only food produced within 5 miles of the tourists home will be allowed to be brought in and be consumed within the confines of the caravans footprint which will include the awning. A nominal “tourist tax” will be levied on caravans with higher levels for non English tourists to enable Food banks to be maintained for Devonians if they and their food delivery vans are unable to get vital supplies through the eco friendly caravans which will be given road priority given their zero impact on the environment; the tax is only levied from May to October. One clever suggestion is that the trains will only be available for use by people who live outside the South west as a means of levelling up the disadvantaged who live in less attractive areas , especially inner city areas; it is intended to be a novel attempt to address ingrained institutional domestic location bias.
        Be careful what you wish for..?

  3. bluecat57 permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:45 pm

    2, but your mileage may vary lower.

  4. T Walker permalink
    June 17, 2021 5:49 pm

    No Paul – the horse farts too much methane!

    • saveenergy permalink
      June 18, 2021 10:44 am

      Collect the methane & use for cooking, the horse is a natural bio-digester; + you can eat the horse … try eating a Tesla !!

      • Rowland P permalink
        June 18, 2021 10:58 am

        ….a jar!!

    • Rowland P permalink
      June 18, 2021 10:57 am

      Save gas! Fart in ajar!

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      June 18, 2021 1:59 pm

      I think methane is only an issue for ruminants?

      • Roy Hartwell permalink
        June 18, 2021 2:16 pm

        You’ve obviously never stood behind a horse 😅

  5. Peter S permalink
    June 17, 2021 6:13 pm

    It is interesting to list all the problems associated with electric vehicles, including the uncertainties like raw material availability, battery safety, cradle to grave environmental footprint and whether we will have the electricity to charge the batteries in the first place.

    I have no wish to purchase such a vehicle. I don’t want the worry and inconvenience associated with range and charging. I don’t have any confidence in the climate models that provide the need. Most of all, I think it is very likely that the government will have to abandon its ridiculous green plans when at some point fantasy gives way to reality.

  6. Alex Emodi permalink
    June 17, 2021 6:27 pm

    50 mile range? This article may have been accurate 5-10 years ago, but not today.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      June 17, 2021 7:04 pm

      According to Autocar the Electric car with the greatest real world range is the Hyundai Kona at just shy of 260 miles. Closely followed by the Jaguar I-Pace at just over 250. I assume this is without a full load of people, say a family of 4 with aircon on or windows open and towing a caravan.
      I’ve never towed a caravan but have taken a family of five, towing a trailer and a roof box. A diesel Citroën Xantia 1.9 diesel turbo, driven sensibly had a range of about 500 miles before the orange light came on.
      During the French Fuel Blockade we drove from Souilliac to just outside Cherbourg, a distance of 780 km (including diversions)on a tank which 3/4 full on departure. Fortunately we found a filling station that sold us 100 francs of fuel before the orange light came on. I reckon the car managed well over 60 mpg fully laden with a roof box but no trailer.
      Is there an electric car that could match that performance on 1980s technology?

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        June 18, 2021 9:02 am

        Autocar actually covers all the points raised.

        https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry-news-technology/can-you-tow-electric-car-or-hybrid

        Paul might have been a bit low on towing range, but not-a-lot.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        June 18, 2021 9:03 am

        Drove from London to Bergerac (600 miles) on one tank of diesel in a car with three people and the rest (seat folded down, estate) entirely full of luggage, DIY equipment and books. EVs are fine in cities but useless for anything else.

      • In The Real World permalink
        June 18, 2021 11:11 am

        Autocar magazine is a very keen supporter of EVs , so any of their claims will always be better than most people can expect in reality .

        Most EVs will never manage to do 50% of claimed mileage when they are towing .
        And the grid capacity & infrastructure means that it is nearly impossible to have a large increase in charging stations , let alone faster charging .

        So , anyone who wants to tow a caravan should plan on not going very far , or taking days to do a journey they used to do in 1 day .

    • June 17, 2021 7:12 pm

      200 miles = say 150 allowing for aircon and normal driving conditions

      Nobody would let their cars drain to nothing before recharging, so allowing for a 50 mile buffer, the 150 becomes 100.

      Towing a caravan reduces the 100 to 50

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        June 18, 2021 8:58 am

        And it’s not clear there will be plentiful charging stations every 50 miles.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      June 18, 2021 8:59 am

      You don’t seem to have read the article. Why not give it a go before commenting?

  7. Tim Spence permalink
    June 17, 2021 6:33 pm

    Without wishing to gloss over the matter in discussion, when will they realise that they haven’t done the math or feasability research fot their carbon neutral 2030-50 plans ?

  8. Pete permalink
    June 17, 2021 6:52 pm

    For F150 Lightning looks capable

  9. John H permalink
    June 17, 2021 7:00 pm

    Why are EVs not legally allowed to tow? Is it because they would clog up the charging stations that they need every 100 miles or so?

    It’s my opinion that super clean diesels currently under development will cause the 2030 deadline to be extended or even quietly dropped.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      June 17, 2021 7:06 pm

      Any link to these developments? I’m a bit of a fan of diesel engines.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        June 17, 2021 9:22 pm

        If you are interested there are some potential major technological breakthroughs that could be real game changers for the internal combustion engine. It has long been possible to convert heat directly into electricity with zero moving parts utilising the Seebeck effect.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_effect
        Thermoelectric generators have traditionally been niche appliances and often used radioactive decay heat as the heat source.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator
        In fact RTGs have powered cardiac pacemakers https://www.reuters.com/article/health-heart-pacemaker-dc-idUKN1960427320071219
        and are currently powering mankind’s furthest flung devices winging their way to the Oort Cloud.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MHW-RTG
        Whilst these devices have previously had very low efficiency (single figures), new materials technology based on graphene and nano-technology are suggesting values in excess of 20% efficiency from wasted energy. These can work on the low level waste heat on the coolant circuits or even more efficiently on the “sweet spot” of the high temperature exhaust stream.
        Given that ICEs throw away 60%+ of the energy from the engine AND that some is also consumed by the alternator, then getting at least an extra 12% of the total energy available in the fuel to charge a hybrid battery could have a dramatic effect on MPG. The days of the 120MPG+ hybrid in normal driving conditions are looking quite possible.
        Curiously Australia is in the forefront of some of this tech development as is the UK. Kind of makes battery tech research look a waste of time.
        https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4499/
        If I recall correctly Paul did run an article about battery cars stifling research and development like this in much more effective areas.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        June 18, 2021 12:13 pm

        Thanks Ray, I was aware of the Voyagers’ and the 50+ years that their and other deep space probes electrical power but not of the other developments

    • Chris Morris permalink
      June 18, 2021 5:59 am

      John
      There are two reasons why electric vehicles can’t tow. The first is that as most cars don’t have a chassis, there is no slid part of the car to attach the towing bar bolts to. Modern car manufacturers get around this by bolts through the floor pan and and large plates either side to spread the load. This is especially so for acceleration and braking. As electric cars have batteries in the floor pan, that drilling is not a good idea. The second reason is the manufacturers won’t rate their vehicles for towing. They say the regeneration going downhill will overload the charging system. That may be true, but the main reason is the range will be ridiculously low once a large caravan is on the back.

      • John H permalink
        June 18, 2021 9:07 am

        Thanks Chris, if EV manufacturers wanted to, they could design in towbar fittings.
        I think the real reason was pointed out by Paul, that is the range would be more than halved. EVs have a bad name already for poor range, so less than 100 miles will make them look worse and scare the pants off potential buyers.

  10. ALBACHIEL permalink
    June 17, 2021 7:18 pm

    So Steptoe got it right first time!

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      June 18, 2021 9:43 am

      I hear that the BBC will run a revised series where the horse is replaced by a unicorn.
      This fits in with their beliefs, and as they have proven you can run for years on unicorn f*rts.

  11. markl permalink
    June 17, 2021 8:23 pm

    Until some leaps in battery technology take place, don’t hold your breath, EVs will remain a niche vehicle for city dwellers and those willing to put up with the range and charging limitations.

  12. Devoncamel permalink
    June 17, 2021 8:36 pm

    This will light the blue touch paper but if we see less caravans I won’t be sorry.
    That said the rush to electric vehicles is driven ( ha ha) by politics, not science or engineering.

  13. Broadlands permalink
    June 17, 2021 8:46 pm

    Some of the evidence about the future of these EVs will soon turn up when we find out what their trade-in value is worth, and whether or not the first owner bought another one. I’m guessing that a second-hand EV will be rather inexpensive, and that the first owner chose not to buy another. Time will tell?

    • Coeur de Lion permalink
      June 18, 2021 8:29 am

      The Nissan Leaf depreciates at £5000 a year for the first three years, halving the value. At some point one runs into Battery Replacement Fear and the value falls to zero.

      • dave permalink
        June 18, 2021 10:45 am

        “…Replacement Fear…”

        Something similar happens with small private aircraft. When the engine has done a certain number of hours it has to be replaced by law, and as this is very expensive, the resale value of a well-used aeroplane is small.

        Add in the enormous tax on the fuel, and one realizes why most pilots hang around the airfield instead of flying!

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        June 18, 2021 12:24 pm

        Many people cannot afford a new car every three years and turn to the second hand market and buy a 2 to 4 year old vehicle. Some go for even older cars . For an ICE engine failure is not a financial disaster, just go to your local breakers yard and buy a reasonable cost replacement part or full engine.
        Second hand good condition batteries will be very hard to find and probably not particularly cheap

  14. Andy Skarstein permalink
    June 17, 2021 9:20 pm

    In my Yeti 2wd 1.9d with a roof box and towing a 1.5t caravan, I could easily make it from home on the south coast to Carlisle, appriox 370 miles, in about 8hrs inc stops, on one tank of diesel, about 35mpg.
    Your calculations mean a week, each way, for that part of the journey to NW Scotland !
    I for one am steering clear of EV’s for as long as I can.

  15. Ian PRSY permalink
    June 17, 2021 9:59 pm

    Caravan park owners are also going to have to cstch up. Apart from the cost of the recharge (I guess they’ll have to start installing chargers) there’s the supply to the site that may need upgrading.

    • Izzy permalink
      June 17, 2021 11:22 pm

      And all these problems and more will apply if you are towing a horse trailer with one or two horses on board. And goodness knows how you would cope with a horse box loaded with two or four or even ten horses. Currently race horses are regularly boxed from one end of the country to the other to attend race meetings in large horse boxes. What a lot would have to change!

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      June 18, 2021 1:19 pm

      Caravan Club sites have maximum rated electric hookups for caravans of 16 amps. Many other sites only manage 10 amps and sometimes only 6 amps. Tripping (and resetting) the power post is a common caravanning experience, often late at night or in the middle of cooking dinner when the kettle is on and some idiot starts the microwave too.

      Upgrades would be hugely expensive but essential.

  16. auralay permalink
    June 17, 2021 10:27 pm

    Of course you could ditch the caravan and plan to squat in an abandoned electric bus each night.

    • Rowland P permalink
      June 18, 2021 2:20 pm

      Brilliant!!

  17. Ian Miller permalink
    June 17, 2021 11:30 pm

    You have to remember the elephant in the room has nothing to do with transport method feasibility but as Cristiana Figueres when heading the Paris accord indicated, it has to do with dismantling of our Capitalist method of driving current living standards and in effect making freedom to roam only available to the very wealthy elites: Petrol, diesel, hydrogen or whatever – rendered too expensive (in order to save the planet).

  18. Ian Miller permalink
    June 17, 2021 11:32 pm

    You have to remember the elephant in the room has nothing to do with transport method feasibility, but as Cristiana Figueres when heading the Paris accord indicated, it has to do with dismantling of our Capitalist method of driving current living standards and in effect making freedom to roam only available to the very wealthy elites: Petrol, diesel, hydrogen or whatever – rendered too expensive (in order to save the planet).

  19. John Hultquist permalink
    June 18, 2021 5:35 am

    There are many changes coming to future EVs. 10 years out both engines and batteries will be better.
    For many years in the USA, these sorts of recreational vehicles are fitted with extra batteries, and with generators. Future ones will likely have generic “power walls”. Campgrounds have sewer and electric hookups. These can be upgraded for charging with the methane from the sewage being used. (Okay; that’s just a throw-away idea.)
    New enterprises catering to the recreational crowd will grow along with the demand.

    Note: I think all of this is a response to a non-problem. Therefore it is wasteful, silly, & sad.
    Read about Opportunity Cost and weep.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      June 18, 2021 9:11 am

      I don’t believe for a moment that engine will be noticeably better in ten years time. Been around far too long already to improve. Batteries might but they are up against real physical and chemical laws.

    • Graham Darn permalink
      June 21, 2021 11:25 pm

      It’s caravan ownership that will come into decline. The site owners would need to provide caravans static on-site
      . Thus the range when towing will be no problem. Many people stopped towing caravans and tents to the south of Europe and rent those on-site down there. We will have to adopt the same principles in the UK. Simples!

  20. Michael permalink
    June 18, 2021 7:21 am

    Lots of caravanners have small petrol generators for site power. Just have it running in the caravan and back feed it into the car whilst towing. Chargerates won’t be high but might help…

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      June 18, 2021 1:07 pm

      Caravanning with a generator is fairly niche. Most caravan club and camping & caravan club sites don’t allow them. Its usually festivals or wild sites such as forestry commission where you see them.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      June 18, 2021 1:54 pm

      On caravan generators for charging. We use a Honda EU 20i suitcase generation. Very compact and (reasonably) quiet.

      It would struggle to run a normal hair dryer, but could just about do it!

      Really only good for charging, even then you are often restricted to 2 hrs am and 2 hrs pm on many forestry commission sites.

  21. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    June 18, 2021 7:43 am

    Highway Code Rule 169. For you caravanners.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      June 18, 2021 1:47 pm

      Yes, but in defence of towing the legal speed limits are 50 mph on single and 60 mph on dual carriageways.

      The real issue on single carriage roads when towing is being able to overtake safely very slow moving road users such as tractors or cyclists. You need a lot of space and a long sight line.

      Otherwise you can bowl along with everyone else, just not overtaking. Idiots making sudden dangerous overtakes of caravans trying to pass a tractor are a real nightmare. Also people making very late passes of caravans where roads revert to single carriageways. That can cause the caravan tower to have to make potentially dangerous braking/avoidance because of an aggressive car driver who thinks their 30 secs time gained justifies f#cking up everyone else.

      I think there is a reasonable argument to increase the towing speed limit on single roads to 60 mph, same as dual carriageways. It would help maintain good speed on big single carriageway A roads.

      • TheConcientiousCaravanner permalink
        June 18, 2021 3:17 pm

        HGV limit on single carriageways is 10mph lower than cars towing caravans. If I am the cause of a queue of traffic, I follow HWC 169, but 9 times out of 10, the delay is due to lorries.

  22. Coeur de Lion permalink
    June 18, 2021 8:24 am

    Why am I only paying £20 a year road tax on my 4 year old 1600cc diesel Picasso? Because it’s Adblu and very very clean. By the way, has the lunatic government mentioned imports in connection with the EV policy? I’m importing a chunky Mercedes SUV nearer the date and selling it at a premium.

  23. June 18, 2021 8:29 am

    Instant tents could get popular.
    https://mountainleon.com/guides/best-instant-tents/

  24. sid permalink
    June 18, 2021 9:55 am

    Dont forget the farmers. We need to tow cattle every week and they dont like an hour of non movement at a charging station

  25. Mad Mike permalink
    June 18, 2021 10:58 am

    A bit O/T here but remember the electric bus PlanetMark took to Cornwall and how they had trouble finding a place to recharge.? Well, I asked them if they recharged before they got to Cornwall and apparently they tried to top up before they got to Cornwall. Here’s the relevant part of their email.

    “The coach company we hire is based in Moseley, West London. It was fully charged on departure. We planned to ‘top up’ the charge at Chippenham but the charging machines were not working with the coach. We did successfully charge at Collumpton in Devon. There was a charging station at Kinsley Village in Cornwall which should have worked for the coach, but it was not compatible.”

    They were sensible enough to try to top up. It would be rather embarrassing to run out of juice in Cornwall after all but, from the original story and their problems they say they encountered, it is clear that things in the recharging world are not fit for purpose at the moment. They didn’t say how long it took to recharge either but I didn’t ask which I should have done. I wonder if motorhomes will encounter the same problems? Just imagine the size and cost of the battery needed for one of those beasts.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      June 18, 2021 11:53 am

      This smells a bit to me of a VHS vs Betamax situation. Where new technology that is intended for instant consumer use is rolled out widely across the country there has to be a common standard that ensures all the nuts and bolts fit together.

      The motor industry is notorious. Every time I visit my son in Edinburgh I rent a car from the airport. I have learnt that the first thing I must do is learn what all the knobs and switches do and they are rarely in the same place or function in the same way (up/down, left/right, push/pull) each time, and often in cars from the same manufacturer.

      The idea that it is possible for a charging station to be incompatible with any vehicle is ludicrous.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 18, 2021 12:56 pm

      Mike, the impression I am getting here is that Planet Mark simply do not know what they are doing. The TCe12 electric coach is simply not designed to be used in the way they are trying to. It actually is supplied with its own static charging unit for “return to base” charging and not intended to use most public units. Very few are capable of charging this coach, mostly Ionity units such as the Cullompton one.

      From an initial review “Clearly, the TCe12 is not aimed at long-distance applications.” rather says it all.
      https://www.route-one.net/operations/electric-coach-on-the-road-yutongs-tce12/

  26. Ken Pollock permalink
    June 18, 2021 12:17 pm

    I am a great fan of Jaguars, and enjoyed the 60th anniversary of the E-Type at Shelsley Walsh last weekend. But the i-Pace is not a good buy if you want to tow a caravan. A friend was told you could not fit a tow bar. Apparently you can, but the maximum size of caravan permitted is very small. So don’t think of towing a boat or horse box. Bit of a drawback for many…And what do we do, when only EVs are available? Some trimming of the laws, I guess. Imagine using an electric tractor for 12 hours at a stretch, under high load! Could be a bit of resistance from the farming community.

  27. ThinkingScientist permalink
    June 18, 2021 1:03 pm

    The Caravan Club reviewed the Jaguar I-pace as a tow car. and gave it the best alternative fuel tow car winner (!) 2020.

    https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/whats-on/awards/towcar-of-the-year/2020-winners/

    The maximum weight of caravan towed was 750kg. That’s really small. Most family caravans sit in the range 1400 – 1800 kg range for large single up to twin axle 4/5 berth units.

    They quote the range (sans caravan) as 292 miles. Its not in the page I linked but I think I recall the range when towing was reported as dropping to 114 miles.

    As a few people here may have noted following previous posts, my wife and I are caravanners. We used to have a large Bailey Senator twin axle. That weighed about 1750 kg in running order. We now have an Airstream 684 Trailer (Americans don’t call them caravans!). That is a new build Airstream European spec. purchased in 2014 and is the maximum legal size for a caravan purchased new in the UK (and EU). Its a 680 4-berth (hence the numbering) meaning the internal length is 6.8 m (22 ft). The length hitch-to-tail is 8.25 m and the width is the legal maximum (for new units) of 2.5 m. Quite a few continental caravans such as Hobby’s are the same size. However, for an Airstream its the weight that would prevent any EV towing it, and quite a lot of usual candidate diesel tow cars too. It weighs 2650 kg in running order.

    Contributors here may not be aware of a few points about tow weights etc. The Caravan Club advises never to tow a trailer where the weight is more than 80% of the two vehicle. That pretty much implies no UK available vehicle apart from some huge Mercedes GL 4x4s could tow our Airstream. However, the law makes no such restrictions and the maximum towing capacity is therefore whatever the manufacturer specifies. Large 4x4s and pickups can tow in the range 2500 – 3500 kg depending on manufacturer, design etc.

    I have always towed with Landrovers and currently tow with a Discovery 4 3.0 L V6. It has about 255 bhp and, coupled with an 8-speed auto box, can tow like a train. It weighs about 2800 kg when we go away. On long motorway sections I can maintain legal maximum speeds effortlessly even on hills. All larger Landrover 4x4s (ie range rovers, discovery, defender) have always been rated to tow up to 3500 kg. The smaller 4x4s (Freelander, probably Discovery Sport) are rated at 2000 kg. Normal fuel consumption on a motorway at 70 mph would be about 32 mpg, towing at 60 mph I get about 21 – 22 mpg if there is no headwind (when it would drop to about 18-19 mpg). Note the all up weight of Disco + Airstream is around 5.5 tons combined and the total length is over 40 ft – ie lorry trailer length!

    However, the other factor for towing is nose weight capacity and this is the part a lot of people don’t realise can remove a lot of vehicles form the list of those that could potentially tow the weight of an Airstream on paper. Nose weight is the weight of the hitch pressing down on the car – I think this is likely a much more problematic factor for EVs. Too much tow bar weight and the steering will become dangerous, as well as overloading the rear suspension. As an example, the nose weight limit for an Audi Q7 (an otherwise great towcar is only 85 kg. Most saloon and estate cars are in the range 50 – 75 kg. You get a bit of leeway towing a twin axle, but it is often noseweight capacity which is the limit not the gross trailer weight.

    Our Airstream has a noseweight of around 110 kg if the onboard water tank is empty (it exceeds 130kg if not – maximum I can measure! – and makes it almost impossible to unhitch). So a lot of capable tow cars could be illegal for towing the Airstream due to noseweight limits. American import (vintage) Airstreams have noseweights approaching 500 – 600 lbs on 30 ft trailers as the wheels on vintage Airstreams are a long way back, not centred like European caravans.

    With the swan neck tow bar fitted to large Landrover 4x4s they have nose weight limits of 150 kg (even Freelanders!). With the massive Landrover flat adjustable plate tow bar I have on my Disco 4, the noseweight limit is raised to 250 kg – which is just about enough to even tow a vintage import Airstream.

    So I am currently deciding what to do about future proofing my tow car. Landrover products are now absurdly expensive and they don’t make Disco 4’s anymore. So my current plan is to run out the mileage on my current vehicle to 200,000+ and then change to a Toyota HiLux pickup around 2028. The new 3.0 L diesel is now very capable and the price reasonable for a top of the range spec.

    Long post I know, but hope it is useful/informative.

    • MikeHig permalink
      June 18, 2021 3:40 pm

      Interesting post, thanks. It’s not a subject I’ve had to wrestle with but it’s good to get an insight into the issues.
      On the nose weight point, that must make it pretty critical to ensure that any trailer/van/etc is evenly loaded. Also what happens under braking? A large, single-axle caravan must tend to pitch forward, putting a serious load onto the towbar.
      I guess that’s why, in the US, you see a lot of trailers/caravans connected into the flatbed of a pickup, putting the load within the wheelbase and allowing a much more robust attachment.

  28. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 18, 2021 2:17 pm

    Slightly o/t but the problems highlighted here are nothing to do with the electric motors but rather the “fuel tank” i.e. the battery. The other electric option is spectacularly different.
    623 miles covered then a 5 minute refuel.
    https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/manufacturer-news/2021/06/14/toyota-mirai-sets-hydrogen-range-record
    Can they tow though? Well fitted with 2 of the above’s motor units you can do this

  29. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 18, 2021 3:42 pm

    Although some manufactures (Mercedes?) stepped away from fuel cells, it seems the government may have backed the wrong horse too soon – another lightbulb fiasco? It’s the horse coming up at the rear!

    https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-9697811/Step-gas-Hydrogen-cars-answer-clean-driving.html

    The major advantage currently is of course the 5 minute refuel.

    BUT, you just get the feeling that there are also much better prospects for strides of technological gains and cost reductions, than with battery EVs.

    • Juglans Nigra permalink
      June 19, 2021 4:58 am

      confessions of a former Hydrogenist…………..https://thehydrogenskeptics.blogspot.com/2021/03/painting-hydrogen-in-bright-colors-is.html?m=1

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        June 19, 2021 10:57 am

        Not much point posting a link without making a point. We’re already aware of the issues/arguments around hydrogen. The issue here is what makes the most practical car if we’re forced to dump the best solution – ICEs. Any replacement will be costly and have it’s problems, else the free market would have already gone there.

  30. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 19, 2021 10:00 am

    HI GM, the issue of the fuel cell is really its versatility and they are actually very low in overall resource consumption. As an example there are 10,274 miles of rail track in the UK of which only 3,062 is electrified, the remaining nearly 8,000 miles runs diesels. Electrifying those latter miles would be hugely expensive especially tunnels and bridges and require
    massive resources. The alternative is this sort of thing requiring no track changes at all.
    https://www.alstom.com/solutions/rolling-stock/coradia-ilint-worlds-1st-hydrogen-powered-train
    The fact that fuel cells ultimately solve so many problems without wholesale disruption is their ultimate strength. There are under 8,500 filling stations in the UK happily servicing all cars. A similar number of these should sort the issue. https://www.itm-power.com/h2-stations

  31. MikeHig permalink
    June 19, 2021 7:43 pm

    To paraphrase Mrs Beeton…..first catch your hydrogen.
    Where’s it going to come from to supply all of these prospective uses – cars, buses, trains, home heating, etc?
    Nearly all of the current production is from natural gas – definitely not zero-carbon.
    Theoretically the standard process of steam reforming could be adapted/retrofitted to capture the CO2. I’m not aware of that happening yet at commercial scale: someone may know more? Then the CO2 has to be sequestered.
    Then there’s electrolysis using green ‘leccy which seems to be the source everyone is planning to use. It’s expensive and uses a lot of power. In the case of a car, the electricity demand is 2-3 times that of an equivalent BEV for the same range. In the long-term nuclear power could be used for high-temperature electrolysis but that possibility is decades away.
    However the elephant in the room, once again, is where to get all of that additional electricity when everything else is being driven towards electrification as well?

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