When the Tesla Model Y was first released in March in the US, many were surprised it did not come with a tow hitch as standard equipment.
That was soon corrected, when less than a month later Tesla added the tow hitch as a $1,300 CAD option in the Design Studio.
Now that the electric SUV has been out for nearly 6 months, we are starting to see the first real-world tests of the Model Y hauling trailers on camping trips across the country.
Stéphane, a Long Range (LR) Model Y owner in Quebec shared his recent towing experience with Drive Tesla. We’re going to take a detailed look at how it performs hauling a pretty large trailer nearly 500kms (310 miles) roundtrip with lots of elevation changes, and see how it impacts the range and efficiency.
Remember, the LR Model Y is rated for 509kms (316 miles) on a full charge.
Stéphane owns an Alto F1743 trailer made by Safari Condo, which has a dry weight of 1,785lbs. According to Stephane, the trailer probably weighed closer to 2,200lbs with all of their camping gear inside.
That’s still well below the 3,500lb towing capacity of the Model Y.
On this particular camping trip, Stéphane and his family were travelling from just outside Laval, Quebec to Coaticook, about 220km away.
This route has a number of large elevation changes, which put the power and efficiency of the Model Y to the test.
On the drive to Coaticook, his first time towing a trailer with the Model Y, Stéphane says he was quite liberal with the accelerator, maintaining a speed with Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) of 105km/h, or 65mph (it is important to remember that Autopilot is not available when Tow Mode is active).
He says he also occasionally passed other vehicles at about 115km/h (71 mph). Hauling the trailer at such high speeds had a big impact on range. After starting the trip with the battery at 100%, it was already down to 30% at about the half-way point thanks to a not-so-great efficiency of 396Wh/km (637Wh/mi).
After slowing down to a more reasonable 95km/h (59 mph), he was able to bring his efficiency down to 296Wh/km (476Wh/mi) and reach the campground with 9% left on the battery. Fortunately the campground had power at each site, so he was able to plug in right away without leaving.
On the return journey, Stéphane tells Drive Tesla he learned from his mistakes and kept TACC at 95km/h (59 mph) for most of the drive, and was able to maintain an efficiency rating of around 300Wh/km (482Wh/mi), giving him plenty of juice to make it back home.
For comparison, regular highway driving in summer temperatures for a LR Model Y will result in an efficiency rating of about 180-200Wh/km (290-320Wh/mi). That means towing a trailer of this size results in about a 40-50% drop in efficiency.
According to the Model Y owners manual, towing in Canada is restricted to 89km/h (55mph). From the wording of this particular section, it appears the vehicle would be electronically limited to that speed when Tow Mode is active.
But Stéphane tells us, and it can be clearly seen in his photos, he was able to drive above the 89km/h limit, and as mentioned reach speeds around 115km/h at certain points.
As far as the overall driving experience while towing, Stéphane says the power of the Model Y made it feel like he wasn’t towing at all, with almost normal acceleration. But it’s important to keep that power delivery smooth and not mash the accelerator as you might normally do, because as he puts it, “the energy was melting like a popsicle in the sun.”
Since this trip, Stéphane has gone on several more, and reports efficiency has been consistently below 300Wh/km while towing. The real test will come later this month, when he plans a much longer camping trip to les Iles de la Madeleine, which will require stopping 8 times for charging, extending the total trip time by 3 hours.
Despite the extra drain on the battery while towing, Stéphane says his Model Y “was just perfect to tow“, and will hopefully get the Cybertruck when it comes out to get even more range.
Have you towed with your Model Y? Let us know your experience in the comments below.