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An Audi E-Tron Towed A GM EV1 From Tulsa To Austin, Range Was Affected

Illustration for article titled An Audi E-Tron Towed A GM EV1 From Tulsa To Austin, Range Was Affected
Photo: Audi

There isn’t a lot of data out there about how towing affects EV range, largely because there is such a diversity in trailer aerodynamics and mass. Thanks to the Oklahoma Chapter of the Electric Auto Association, we have some idea of how towing a 4000-pound car trailer affects the range of an Audi E-Tron.


The group of volunteers, supported by Audi of America’s electrification strategy team, drove the Audi while towing a trailer from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for an event hosted by the Fully Charged YouTube channel.

The team claimed an average efficiency of 1.3 miles per kilowatt-hour while towing. The E-Tron has a 95 kWh battery, but only 84 of those are usable, which gives just under 110 miles between full and empty batteries. EPA range for the SUV is 204 miles, so the trailer cut the available range almost in half.


This doesn’t sound great, but the added time wasn’t double. The team used 150kW fast chargers along the way that each took about 30 minutes to recharge 80% of the battery. They used the Electrify America and Francis Energy charging networks. They weren’t specific about which chargers were used or how long the trip took, but in an ideal case, this would have added a little over two hours to a journey that would normally take around eight.

Charger locations of one of the two charging networks used
Charger locations of one of the two charging networks used

I definitely wouldn’t get an EV if I were needing to tow a trailer 500 miles more than a few times. But the occasional tow doesn’t add too much time, and upcoming electric trucks are claiming a lot more than 204 miles of non-towing range. This wasn’t an exceptionally small or lightweight trailer. Also interesting was what was being towed inside the trailer: the first modern EV, a 1996 GM EV1.

Matt Brown is an automotive engineer, writer, and builder of unconventional things. Mostly vehicles.

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So everyone complains about how towing destroys EV range, but everyone forgets it also destroys ICE range... do we just ignore that? Or does that not fit the narrative of “gas/diesel good, electricity bad”

Yes I get it ISNT hurt AS much, but you’ll still lose from 25% to up to 50% MPGs depending on the load and trailer.