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The Tesla Model Y might not be the first car that comes to mind when you think about towing a boat, but why can’t it be? With summer coming, one YouTuber attached his 3,000-pound boat to his Model Y and headed off for an adventure.

How does towing affect the Tesla Model Y range?

The Tesla Model Y on the move
Can the Tesla Model Y electric vehicle tow a boat? | Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to Tesla, the Model Y can tow up to 3,500 pounds with the tow package. The tow package comes with a high-strength tow bar with a two-inch hitch receiver. It comes with a standard connector and a trailer harness for $1,200. It also comes with software to ensure the EV tows as expected. But how will this impact the range of the electric vehicle once you actually tow something?

According to InsideEVs, one Tesla owner set out to find just that. Tesla Canuck on YouTube connected a 3,000-pound boat and trailer to his Model Y. The trip was just under 100 miles and was still within the 3,500-pound weight limit. Once the boat was connected and Trailer mode activated, he was off.

The Model Y had 98% battery (98% State of Charge)and used air conditioning the whole trip. By the time it arrived, it was at 30% SoC.

The results of towing a boat with your Tesla Model Y

Tesla Canuck found the trip more pleasant in the electric vehicle rather than a regular gasoline-powered car. He noted that the instant torque the Model Y provided made the towing much smoother. There was less sway in the trailer due to the lower center of gravity electric vehicles offer. The brake regeneration worked fine with the boat attached. Autopilot is not an option when in Tow mode, nor is autosteer.

Based on the statistics pulled from the vehicle, the Model Y was at 45% efficiency while towing the boat. That is less than half of the range a driver would normally get while not towing a boat. It was a bit cold during this trial (64 degrees Fahrenheit/18 degrees Celsius), which also could have impacted the range.

The estimated power used was 54.3 kWh, and he traveled about 98 miles (158.3 km). The estimated power cost was $7.46 ($0.14 per kWh), and the estimated fuel money saved was $7.23. That’s definitely cheaper than a trip using gasoline. By the time he arrived at the destination, the battery was at 30%.

Is it smart to buy a Tesla for towing?

One thing that was not anticipated was the inconvenience of charging while towing. Since most chargers require you to back up to plug in, You cannot do this with anything connected to the tow hook. You must disconnect the boat or trailer before the vehicle can back up to the plug. This isn’t always the case if the charger allows drivers to pull through instead of backing up. Some Tesla Supercharging stations have these drive-through chargers, but not all of the locations do.

It is hard to compare driving an electric vehicle to a regular gasoline vehicle due to the differences from car to car. A large pickup truck will have different towing capacities than a medium-sized SUV, for instance. Additionally, changing gas prices might make gasoline cheaper than electricity at some points.

With the efficiency at 45%, that’s a pretty big difference. Many ICE vehicles will get about 20% to 40% loss of efficiency. If your destination is to a more rural location, towing with your Tesla Model Y might not be the best decision yet. While the Supercharging network is extensive, it isn’t quite ready for some areas. It depends on your location, the weather, and how far you might be traveling to determine if towing with your EV is a good idea.


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