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Electric cars for towing caravans are being forgotten in “rush to go electric”

The needs of those wanting to use an electric car to tow a caravan are being overlooked in the rush to go electric, according to Britain’s consumer champion and new car buying platform, What Car?.

Electric vehicles managed between 78 and 113 miles on a charge while towing a caravan weighted to 85 per cent of the car’s kerb weight, What Car? testing has found.

A significantly reduced range for electric cars towing caravans means the ability to charge on route to campsites is essential if the 555,000 UK households with touring caravans are going to give up their petrol and diesel cars.

However, none of the motorway services run by the three main operators in the UK currently allow caravanners to charge without first unhitching.

Electric car charging for caravanners

None of the motorway services run by the three main operators in the UK currently allow caravanners to charge without first unhitching.

And due to one-way systems, some make it impossible to get back from the chargers to the towing parking area.

Moto said it was unable to comment, and Welcome Break didn’t respond to enquiries on its future charging infrastructure plans.

However, a spokesperson for Roadchef said: “While supporting cars and vans is our current priority, we are actively consulting with caravan forums to determine their needs around electric car charging.

"We aim to facilitate towing EVs well ahead of any bans on petrol and diesel models in the UK.”

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford said: “Electric car ranges have improved massively over the last decade, but towing is always going to reduce how far you can go on a charge, so it’s crucial that the infrastructure is in place to support those who use their cars to pull a caravan or trailer.

“At the moment their needs feel like an afterthought, even though the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK is just eight years away.”

Can electric cars tow a caravan?

As part of the judging process for the What Car? Tow Car Awards 2022, eight of the latest electric cars were range tested with and without a caravan.

The best performer managed 113 miles while towing a caravan weighted to 85 per cent of the car’s kerb weight (the maximum recommended), and the worst just 78.1 miles.

Meanwhile, the average drop compared with the range without a caravan on the same test route and in the same weather conditions was 54.6 per cent.

By comparison, the fuel economy in a petrol or diesel car typically drops by around a third when towing, so it will be necessary to stop more often with an electric car – and topping up is likely to be much more complicated.

For now, cars with a combustion engine remains the only suitable option for many caravanners, with the Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro diesel named the best car for towing in 2022 at the annual What Car? Tow Car Awards.

Related: Volkswagen Multivan named Most Practical Tow Car at What Car? 2022 Tow Car Awards

Huntingford added: “Stability has to be the number one priority when towing, and the Q5 is as solid and secure as they come.

“However, it also offers a fantastic blend of performance and practicality, and is cleaner and more efficient than traditional diesel models, thanks to mild-hybrid electric assistance.”

The Camping and Caravanning Club’s Ian Hewlett, a tester judge on the programme, added: “This year’s field was packed with great tow cars, but everyone on the judging panel agreed that the Audi Q5 was the best all-rounder.

“It’s vital that motorists match the right car with their caravan, and our awards programme gives drivers excellent insight into the performance of the latest vehicles on the market.”

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