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How can automakers address your towing needs? We’ve already learned that electric vehicles can’t handle towing like gas and diesel-powered trucks and SUVs, but do they need to? Could the newly patented GM Tow-Assist Device get the job done?

What is the GM Tow-Assist Device?

GM Patent Drawing for Tow-Assist Device
GM Patent Drawing for Tow-Assist Device | General Motors

Based solely on drawings filed by GM at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), this new device appears to be a small machine located between the vehicle doing the towing and the trailer being towed. This small machine is designed to increase truck and SUV towing capacity beyond the vehicle’s capabilities.

When did GM file this patent?

Motor Authority tells us the original patent was filed on October 21, 2019, but it’s only recently been published by the USPTO. The patent application is for a “tow assist system” using a wheeled booster positioned between the tow vehicle and trailer.

How will this towing system work?

The machine could have up to four wheels and includes the hitches required for all types of trailers, including a fifth-wheel hookup. It should include electric motors to drive each wheel and an EV battery to provide power to each wheel.

The GM Tow-Assist Device could use sensors to determine how much power is necessary to pull a heavy trailer. Along with the power to tow trailers, this system could also apply brakes to assist with trailer braking. All of these aspects of this device are included in the GM patent application.

Could this towing machine charge an electric truck or SUV?

Many automakers, GM included, have added bidirectional charging to their vehicles. This charging system allows EVs to charge other EVs, use electric power for tools, and to act as a household generator when called upon to do so. This new GM Tow-Assist Device could be equipped with bidirectional charging. This would allow it to charge the tow vehicle while on the road. This could increase the towing range of an EV.

Are large trucks still required to tow heavy loads?

GM Tow-Assist Device Patent Drawing - This item could allow higher towing capacities for small trucks and SUVs
GM Tow-Assist Device Patent Drawing | General Motors

Currently, this towing machine isn’t a reality. We don’t know how much weight it can pull on its own or how it will supplement the towing capacity of a tow vehicle. Still, the goal is to create a device enabling increased towing capacities for smaller trucks and SUVs. This means you might not need a full-size truck for your large boat or travel trailer. Instead, you could get by with a midsize pickup or SUV instead.

Do you need a CDL to use the GM Tow-Assist Device?

This new towing device could offer flexibility but might require something more. If you’re towing enough weight to require a CDL, you’ll need to obtain one. This is regardless of how large a tow vehicle you use. Although GM might offer something that eliminates the need to buy a specific vehicle based on trailer weight, you might need a special license to use this machine and your tow vehicle.

Although not a reality yet, this new GM Tow-Assist Device could change your towing experience if it ever comes to the market.


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