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The electric vehicle tow test with a Hyundai IONIQ5 vs a Ford Ranger, a caravan and a car trailer

I used to start articles with something like “electric vehicles are the future, like it or not” but now I need to change that to “electric vehicles are here now, and taking over”.

You’ll have seen all the change; the EU recently banned the sale of petrol/diesel (ICE) vehicles after 2035, carmarker after carmaker is declaring an electric-only line, sales of EVs are up and up, and more EV models are released. Yet EVs are new, and there’s a lot of misinformation about them. I’ve listed many of the common questions and fallacies in my Dr Karl-approved EV Realities article.

Right now, EVs can absolutely do the job of a city car, and do it better than ICE. The problem is they’re not yet cost-effective for the average Australian. And there’s no EV in many market segments; sports cars, peoplemovers, offroaders and towing vehicles.

It’s towing that we’re going to take a close look at here, as that’s something not fully explored yet with EVs, and it’s a really important part of vehicle use. So there’s four videos:

Towing comparison – electric vehicle vs diesel. We take an EV, a diesel 4×4, and two different trailers then compare energy consumption over a 106km loop split into three different sectors.

Trailer weights analysis – you can’t just hook up any trailer to any car and expect to be within weight limits; in this video I explain the calculations I made to figure out what sort of trailer I should get for the IONIQ5. This isn’t specific to EVs.

Charging in a shopping centre with a trailer – it’s pretty common when towing to need to drop into a shopping centre for groceries or something else. With an ICE car you’d simply park your rig a distance away from the doors where there’s plenty of space and walk in. But it’s not so simple with an EV if you want to take advantage of charging whilst you shop, and you probably will.

Owner interview – I talk to Alex, a travelling doctor who uses a Hyundai Kona EV to travel her rounds. Nothing to do with towing but definitely interesting!

Can EVs replace diesel 4x4s? – this wasn’t part of the IONIQ5 test, but it’s still relevant to the test and explains why EVs cannot yet do the job of a diesel 4×4.

Here’s some extra notes which provide a bit more detail on the test, but would have made the videos too long. I’ll also answer common questions here and add any clarifications required (watch the videos first please):

  • Jpod RTT (roof top tent) – this added drag and reduced range. However, the IONIQ5 was lightly loaded, and the caravan also didn’t have any food, cooking equipment etc although the water tank was full. I think the RTT made the test representative, but you could definitely expect a range improvement towing a Jpod without an RTT even with a heavier load.
  • Ranger fuel tank – Ranger has a 140L long-range tank but I used the standard 80L for calculations.
  • IONIQ5 tow limitations – maximum tow limits are really fiction in practical situations, and this is definitely not specific to the IONIQ5 or EVs. I would suggest towing 2/3 of the maximum for any vehicle. The IONIQ5 is particularly limited as, like many vehicles of its class whether ICE or EV, the towball mass is very low for Australian conditions. There is no technical reason why an EV cannot tow as much as an ICE, just that there’s no cars on the market as yet. More in the video above.
  • Total cost – the charge cost for the three drives (EV, Jpod, car trailer) totaling 318km was $53.99, at a cost of $0.40 per kWh. Some DC fast chargers are $0.60, and others are free. The Victorian EV road-user charge added $7.95 to that for a total of $61.64 so $0.19/km. At $2.10 per litre that comes to about 9.2 L/100km, which the Ranger couldn’t match at 44.4L used at a cost of $93.24 or $0.29/km, but a small diesel SUV would be able to. The fuel efficiency argument doesn’t hold so much for EVs when towing if you have to use commercial chargers…and you probably would unless you’re just taking a boat down to the water and back.
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