Towing with an EV - trip report

Jul 23, 2021
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Warning - Very long post alert!

Towcar - Polestar 2 LongRange Dual motor Launch edition. (300kW motors (408ps) , 78kWh battery)
Caravan - Bailey Unicorn Vigo S3 Max weight upgrade.
2 Passengers on way - me and SWMBO - 4 on return (daughters joined us mid trip).
Start - Towcester in South Northants. Destination Borrowdale cub site in the Lake district.

7:00am 100%
We left home on the Friday morning (22nd Oct) at about 7:00am Car was charged to 100% over night and preconditioned using mains power. Roads were damp but clear skys and about 8C. Our route planned was A43 to M1, M1 to M6, M6 to Penrith and then down to Keswick and the site. I had planned for two charging stops, the 1st near Stoke on Trent and the second around Lancaster.

We got going in fairly light traffic until joining the M1. When towing with the EV, I set cruise at 56mph, but as soon as I find a big lorry, I tuck in behind it for slipstreaming and follow it. If a faster lorry comes past, I will pull out and follow that.
Progress was fine with a minor slow down on the M6 near J3, and good all through Birmingam. From getting started, I was watching my economy (kWh/100miles is how the car displays it) and looking for a number below 67 (lower is better) - my target for the journey. By Birmingham the number was at about 60 and I was very comfortable with a 2 stop strategy. Unfortunately, as we drove we were getting reports of major congestion on the M6 after Stafford with major queues. While that would be good for the EV economy - not so good for arrival time, so we opted for an early pit stop in Stafford services.

9:00am 35%
Stafford Northbound has two new Gridserve chargers and I had already looked at the location in the carpark. Ignoring the "caravans here" sign, we headed for the main carpark and found a quiet spot away from the cafe area near the white vans that accumulate there. Unhitched the van in a space, and I drove the 50 meters to the charger. One was in use and I popped the car on the other, starting the charge at 9:09. After 2 hours on the road I was ready for a coffee and cheeky bacon sarnie, so Greggs did the job. My wife and I took turns to head in and use the facilities, while the other guarded the van (corner steady down, sat inside). I consumed my coffee and food, opted for a second bathroom break and then we were ready to go again. 40 mins of charging yielded 34.7kWh (half a battery) and 72%. The charge was pretty slow by my cars standard averaging about 40kW


9:50am 72%
We hit the road again and battled through the rest of the M6 hold up with some rain kicking in. While in Stafford, we had decided to stop at Crow Orchard, a new 8 station charging hub South of Charnock Richard or - if the battery would stretch - at Charnock Richard, and then again near Penrith. The 1st stop at Stafford was earlier than I had planned and a 3 stop strategy seemed inevitable. As the miles rolled on, slipstreaming another big rig, I realised my economy was around 57kWh/100miles - much better than I had hoped. A quick calculation and look at WhatsApp and ABRP, revealed the E.ON chargers at Preston East - an ultra rapid, and in reach of our destination in one go if we got a good charge.

11:35 16% 164 miles
We pulled in again to the Starbucks at Preston East. A big wide space, right next to the 2 chargers was sitting waiting to take the caravan. Quick unhitch and onto charge. Once again, we took turns to use the facilities, had a coffee, and decided to eat a bit of early lunch. A couple of other EVs came and went, with the usual chatter (Is that a citroen - no, its a Polestar; What's it like towing the caravan - great; is it fast - very.) 48 mins ticked by and we hit the 90% needed to get all the way to Keswick. In the time it took me to get out and ready to unplug we hit 92.

IMG_6990X.JPG


12:31 92%
The E.ON charger had been fast, 63kWh pulled in in 56 mins, still not as fast as the car can charge, but good. On the road one final time. We had a hard time finding a lorry to follow after ours inconsiderately left the M6 toward Blackpool, but did get onto one on the way up Shap. Economy suffered a bit, but not too badly, and I had built in a reserve. We left the M6 at Penrith, and headed down the A66. Back on the single lane section, it was much harder to keep the speed below 50. With the car set up to coast when my foot was off the accelerator, it would roll very easily over the speed limit on the down hill sections. Much attention needed.

14:30 11% 257 miles
We finally pulled into Borrowdale at about 2:30pm, having covered over 90 miles on the last leg, with 11% remaining. I paid for the pitch and paid for one nights EV charging from the post (£8). The wardens confirmed that we were the first full EV towing to use the site that they were aware of. We got set up and plugged the car in, with the car constrained to 8A to leave some headroom for the van appliances. By next morning we were back up to 55% and ready to head out.

Return Journey.

30/10/2021
8:40am 100% 7c Very wet 0miles
Again - we charged the car overnight on the Club site from the van, and preconditioned. The weather was poor, and had been for the last few days with the lakes making the national news due to rainfall. The lakes were high, rivers had burst, and the car had coped well.

We towed off the site, through Grange and gingerly headed back up toward Keswick, knowing there was at least one flooded section to drive through. Needn't have worried as the Polestar never missed a beat.
Heading up the A66 was miserable it was cold and wet and uphill all the way to Penrith. The target economy of 67 kWk/100m was nowhere to be seen with more like 85 showing. I told myself "its all up hill here, and Shap is downhill" and kept going. We joined the M6, and it was empty. Usually great for a holiday, but not if you want to follow a lorry. After a few mins we spotted on in the distance ahead and I eased the car up to 60 to catch it. We ducked into its stream and followed it to Preston. I shouldn't have worried as I was right; as soon as we were on the motorway, heading down hill and with a windbreaker lorry, the economy climbed and we were back below the target 67 by Kendal. Whilst we could have gone further on the battery charge remaining, we opted for the same stop as we had on the way up, as the driver and one passenger really needed to. Making the diversion into Preston East, we popped into exactly the same spot and charger as on the way up.

10:40am 17% 93 Miles
The sun came out, as we parked the caravan, this time with 4 of us. Coffee and hot chocolate, and a rapid charge. Target was 85%, but we hit 87% in 48 mins, loading in 60kWh. This time we had a two stop strategy in mind and I was aiming for Hilton Park services north of Birmingham.

11:30 87%
Back on the road, and the weather continued to improve. Following lorries all the way down, we got to Hilton Park services with no issues.

1:24pm 18% 187 miles
At Hilton park, the Caravan bays are separated from the main carpark by a low wall. We pulled into the caravan area and un-hitched. I then drove round to the charger and got started.
We manually turned the van round through 180, got a steady down and set up for loo stops and lunch. For whatever reason the new gridserve charger was on a go slow, delivering 51kWh in an hour. It didn't really matter as we ate lunch in the caravan, and had a coffee after. Our target was 80% and we left with 83% for the final leg home.

2:50pm 21% 260 miles
A stilly mistake as we came to the end of the M6, I got in the wrong lane, and ended up on the A14 east instead of the M1 south. Having chastised myself, we got of at the 1st junction and decided to head direct south through Northampton to home. A slightly longer route over all, but not as long as going back to the M1. We got home around 15 mins later than we would have hoped.

Take aways.
Average consumption
Outbound 57kWh/100miles;
Return leg - 60.6kWh/100m
(usually 34-36kWh/100m Solo)

1) The weather on the way back made a huge difference - wet more than cold impacts the economy.
2) We charged too much for the last section, I built in a good 15% more than I needed to, which was perhaps 15-17 mins of charging.
3) Planning really helps - knowing where you can stop, but not necessarily where you WILL stop. Gives you options.
4) Motorway services are not bad - just make up your own rules as to where you will park, and ask forgiveness rather than permission (not that I needed to).
5) Non-motorway services work really well too.
6) Longer distance caravanning works great in an EV if you are prepared to stop (like me). For those who want to do a 6 hour 300 mile tow in one go, not so much.
7) Would I trade in the extra range for going back to an ICE tow car? Emphatic no for me. The Kia EV6 would be on my list of tow cars though for the ultra rapid (18min 10-80%) charge speed.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Tobes.

A very interesting report, and worth posting, But I note you have already posted exactly the same in the thread titled.
Will the electric car strategy the govement has kill Caravans
Dual posting like this causes problems with duplication and keeping track of answers or coments.

Perhaps the Mods will sot this out.
 
Jul 23, 2021
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Hello Tobes.

A very interesting report, and worth posting, But I note you have already posted exactly the same in the thread titled.
Will the electric car strategy the govement has kill Caravans
Dual posting like this causes problems with duplication and keeping track of answers or coments.

Perhaps the Mods will sot this out.
Removed the other post and linked to this. 👍
 
May 7, 2012
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Interesting post. Can you tell us what the cost of the electricity was for comparison with ICE cars.
 
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Jul 23, 2021
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Interesting post. Can you tell us what the cost of the electricity was for comparison with ICE cars.
To fill the battery at home costs about £4. The two charges on the way to the lakes were £10.42 and £24.55 respectively. So to travel 257 miles from home to the Lakes cost me about £40, arriving with 20 odd miles of range left for solo travel. It used to cost me 1 tank of diesel in my XC90 or V60 for the same tow (I used to top up at Rheged before heading to Keswick) and that would be £70 back when diesel was £1.20 a litre.
The return trip was £8 + £23.39 + £15.36 = £46.75 and I had about 40 miles solo at the end.

Works out at less than ~17p per mile towing vs about 27p per mile using diesel
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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To fill the battery at home costs about £4. The two charges on the way to the lakes were £10.42 and £24.55 respectively. So to travel 257 miles from home to the Lakes cost me about £40, arriving with 20 odd miles of range left for solo travel. It used to cost me 1 tank of diesel in my XC90 or V60 for the same tow (I used to top up at Rheged before heading to Keswick) and that would be £70 back when diesel was £1.20 a litre.
The return trip was £8 + £23.39 + £15.36 = £46.75 and I had about 40 miles solo at the end.

Works out at less than ~17p per mile towing vs about 27p per mile using diesel
With our 3.0L diesel at current prices it would cost us just under £90 to do the 297 miles, but we are towing 2000kg of caravan. Besides the Tesla I am not aware of any EV that can tow that sort of load. EV is obviously a good choice, but with the diesel I do not have to spend an hour recharging every 100 miles or so and can arrive at my destination relaxed.
BTW excellent detailed interesting write up however for us at present an EV or hybrid will always be a second car.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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An excellent write up of your trip. And I am sure as time goes on EV's will be more and more available, but for most folk, I think towing with one will be more for the well off folk, your planning for stops and the time for recharges are good. And as long as your keeping to motorways, to be able to give yourself plenty of recharge places, thats fine.
For myself, I will be keeping to my trusty old SantaFe for now, and will be doing the one, 20 minute stop on a long 300 mile tow. Not that we do many of those nowadays.
As an after thought when going North from your area try the M1 to Castle Donnington, then the A50 across to the M6 at Stoke on Trent. A good route.
 
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Jul 23, 2021
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As an after thought when going North from your area try the M1 to Castle Donnington, then the A50 across to the M6 at Stoke on Trent. A good route.
That used to be our preferred route when towing with the XC90. We once had a 12 hour journey by that route when we hit some debris on the M1 that fell off the back of a builders lorry in front of us. A piece of plywood hit the diesel filter under the car and broke it mount. We made it into the refuge underneath J1 of the A50 and got recovered into Derby by Mayday / Greenflag where they found a replacement housing and filter. Got to Borrowdale at about 8pm having set off at 8am!

The M6 route is just that bit shorter, but I would be very tempted to try it with the EV next time. There are some good charging options around Uttoxeter and Stoke.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Very interesting report thank you, you have confirmed for me what I was already thinking and for me an EV is not currently viable, the length of time to charge, together with the unhitching the caravan are just steps too far for me. Good luck with your future tours and a shorter trip without the need to recharge on the way would be viable I think.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Interesting report that Shell and NIO have signed an agreement to install battery charging and battery swop stations in Europe from 2022. You might say “ it’s developing a head of steam”

.https://www.nio.com/
 
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Jan 3, 2012
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I am looking at a hybrid as the next towcar we would like to see what the difference would be
 
Jul 23, 2021
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Saving 10p/mile towing (and presumably about 2/3 of that solo) is a lot less of a cost saving than many advocates claim.
That’s based on the price towing, and charging at public rapids. I haven’t used a rapid since that holiday, all charging being done over night at home at a cost of 5p per kWh. That’s about 1.8p per mile for solo travel.
At £1.50 a litre and 50mpg a diesel is 13.5p per mile. I know I used to get 28mpg (24ppm) from the XC90 for longer distance and 23 (29ppm) on short trips round town. My V60 (if I do a long run where I can’t recharge it) gets about 42mpg (16ppm).
 
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I am looking at a hybrid as the next towcar we would like to see what the difference would be
A straight hybrid will be exactly like a regular petrol or diesel car when towing. Around town it’s a bit more economical.
In my experience a PHEV has shorter range than a regular fossil car when towing (smaller fuel tank) but more power (extra motor), but is a lot more efficient round town (mine is currently showing 70mpg for the last 100 days). But there are many types of PHEV and they all have slightly different ways of working. My V60 is completely different to the Outlander.
 
May 7, 2012
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There is clearly a saving with the EV when towing but the longer stops and problems of unhitching do make them doubtful to me . I am certainly looking at hybrids for the next car but not convinced they are the best bet yet.
 
Jan 3, 2012
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A straight hybrid will be exactly like a regular petrol or diesel car when towing. Around town it’s a bit more economical.
In my experience a PHEV has shorter range than a regular fossil car when towing (smaller fuel tank) but more power (extra motor), but is a lot more efficient round town (mine is currently showing 70mpg for the last 100 days). But there are many types of PHEV and they all have slightly different ways of working. My V60 is completely different to the Outlander.
The outlander I do like and it would suit me getting from my wheelchair but the V60 would be to low ,
 
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Aug 24, 2021
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Saving 10p/mile towing (and presumably about 2/3 of that solo) is a lot less of a cost saving than many advocates claim.
I suppose that we'll know that electric vehicles have arrived when they are bought by people who don’t give a toss about the environment.
Many hybrids currently fall into that category, company cars going ti auction with their charging cable still sealed in the bag it was supplied with.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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My grandson has just ordered a BMW 330 Touring PHEV and his landlord has now agreed he can have a charging point installed, but at grandsons cost. He plans to use it as much on electricity as possible as working mainly from home he has quite a lot of shorter local trips, which wouldn’t be good for a straight petrol or diesel. His company had no option through their purchase scheme for pure diesel or petrol. So it had to be hybrid or full EV.
 
May 7, 2012
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My nephew is on his second Tesla and he has not reported any problems, although they do seem to score fairly low in reports.
 
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Jan 31, 2018
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Early TEslas pre Chinese manufacture had quite a few build quality issues; paint wasn't good-this is a first time manufacturer-and done very well imo-a lot of companies start up and fail in the car industry. Shows how good the big boys are but in many ways Tesla are well ahead of the game and in terms of making a car getting better every day! Funny that the Chinese produced TEslas are of better build than the American made cars?

As far as I can see however this complaint is just very silly press mongering again- or should I say just the sort of daft headline that the anti EV press brigade love-an ICE car charges its 12v battery when on the run-so do most EVs-so the 12 vwill go flat if not used-so trickle charge it! It really isn't rocket science-he'd not used it so it went flat-you might expect it to be powered by the big battery but obviously not! I really don't get the complaint-read the manual!
 
Jul 23, 2021
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James May is not happy with his Tesla! I wonder if other EVs have similar issues that we never hear about? See
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsKwMryKqRE
It’s true, the 12v system is absolutely the most vulnerable part of pretty much any car. The AA publish stats in their call outs and the absolute top no 1 reason for both EV and ICE is a flat 12v battery. Certainly there are reports of polestar cars having a dead 12v battery, but none that I am aware of when they have been plugged in for charging. The good news with almost all EVs (James’s Tesla seems to be an exception here ) is that just adding an external 12v supply, either by jumping from another car or using a jump pack, is enough to wake the car at which point the DC-DC converter from the HV traction battery kicks in and you are back to life. You don’t need to have enough power to generate an 800A starting current to turn over a high compression diesel.
I accidentally drained the 12v battery on both my XC90 and Grand Voyager 2.8crd in the past. Both were hard work to restart needing a good amount of time recharging before they would turn over.
 
Jul 23, 2021
192
180
135
Early TEslas pre Chinese manufacture had quite a few build quality issues; paint wasn't good-this is a first time manufacturer-and done very well imo-a lot of companies start up and fail in the car industry. Shows how good the big boys are but in many ways Tesla are well ahead of the game and in terms of making a car getting better every day! Funny that the Chinese produced TEslas are of better build than the American made cars?

As far as I can see however this complaint is just very silly press mongering again- or should I say just the sort of daft headline that the anti EV press brigade love-an ICE car charges its 12v battery when on the run-so do most EVs-so the 12 vwill go flat if not used-so trickle charge it! It really isn't rocket science-he'd not used it so it went flat-you might expect it to be powered by the big battery but obviously not! I really don't get the complaint-read the manual!
I think his complaint is less about the 12v battery going flat, and more about the shenanigans to get at the recharge point.

Many EVs have a regular “engine” bay with the battery easily accessible. The Polestar has a removable panel secured with two push clips, inside the bonnet which is manually released from the cabin, which can be accessed by a blade key in the main key body. Takes about 5 mins.
 
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Jan 31, 2018
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Our Mini has a positive terminal on view under the bonnet just like the ICE I think but now need ot check when home. Us caravanners know the consequences of not looking after the 12v battery more than most!All my vehicles go on an smart charger if not used for over 2 weeks-bikes and cars, regardless-it just doesn't do them any good to get too low.
 

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