Discover more from Streamlining
Towing with an EV: Range, Cost, and Lost Time
If you can afford to slow down and streamline, you'll gain an awful lot back with an EV
Welcome to the Data-Driven EV Edition of Streamlining
As promised, here is a facts-and-figures post about our recent trip around Scotland towing a caravan with an EV. Hopefully this will provide you with at least some of the information you might need so as to decide whether or not an EV is for you.
Do bear in mind that our tour was conducted solely in Scotland - a progressive nation where EV ownership is actively encouraged and, according to the First Minister, 97% of the net electricity demand is generated by renewable sources. [Some of that energy is exported and compensated by gas and nuclear, because we’re not so good at storing renewables yet. There have been no coal-fired power stations in Scotland since 2016.] Judging by some comments from viewers in England, this appears to have given us access to cheaper public charging than is generally available south of the border.
All routes driven were single carriageway, so by law we were limited to 50 mph. It can be tempting to tow at 60 mph on wide, fast, two-way roads, especially when there is a queue of traffic behind you, but if traffic built up behind us we simply pulled in where safe to do so, allowed the traffic to pass, and carried on at 50 mph.
When charging the car using the public charging network, our consumption was measured in kWh, but when charging using the caravan site supply via a 13 amp socket (often referred to as a Granny Charger), our consumption was measured in time, not energy. Therefore it’s not possible to tell you exactly how much energy we used - I can only estimate. However, it’s the monetary cost that’s the most interesting, and that figure is exact.
Finally, not all the miles covered were done so towing the caravan. I estimate to have done about 50 miles solo, which equates to about 8% of the overall mileage.
Here are the stats:
Start of trip: 1220
End of trip: 1836
Overall mileage: 616 (of which about 566 towing, 50 solo)
Energy Costs (starting and finishing at 100%)
Mallaig - £4.52
Arisaig - £1.95
Tobermory - £7.66
North Ledaig - Included in site fee
Bunree CAMC - £9
Stirlingshire - Free
Stirlingshire - Free
Killin - Free
Morvich CAMC - £18
Claddach Kirkibost, North Uist - £9.24
As a comparison, I worked out how much it would have cost with my old Nissan Navara with a diesel price of £1.80 per litre. It averaged about 25 mpg towing, so I have calculated 27 mpg to allow for the 50 miles solo.
EV - Total Energy Cost: £50.37
EV - Cost per mile: £0.08
Diesel - Total Energy Cost (estimated): £186.63
Diesel - Cost per mile: £0.30
EV Range Towing the Caravan
Normally the EV6 would return 1.8 miles per kWh towing my 1500kg traditionally-shaped caravan. On some journeys we achieved 2.0 mi/kWh, even 2.3 mi/kWh on that tortuously slow road in Ardnamurchan. My new caravan will be considerably lighter, so it will be interesting to see how consumption compares. I’d love to do some real world aerodynamics testing over the next few months as well, if I can get hold of the appropriate caravans.
The Kia EV6 has a 77kWh battery, and early on in the series I made some range predictions which turned out to be correct.
In real life use, you’d be setting off with your battery at 100%.
If you are fully confident of being able to charge at your destination, for example a site with a hook-up where charging is permitted, then you would be able to whittle your battery charge down to approximately 10%.
This would give you about 125 miles range. We put this to the test towing from Killin to Morvich in this video here, and achieved 127 miles leaving 10% battery on arrival.
For journeys in excess of 125 miles, (100 miles in the winter), you’d be needing to charge up en route. Your distance between chargers would be considerably reduced, because it is good practice and good manners to only charge up to 80% using a rapid charger, and you’d not be wanting to let your battery drop to below 20% before finding a charger when you have the caravan in tow. Therefore you would only be utilising 60% of the battery capacity between charges on the road (or 80% if setting off with a full charge.)
For the Kia EV6, this equates to 46kWh (61.6kWh if setting off with a full battery), so at a consumption of 1.8 mi/kWh, you’re looking at about 82 miles between charges (70 miles in the depths of winter), or about 110 miles if setting off with a full charge. On A roads as we were using, this works out to between two and three hours of towing. This won’t be good news to those who like to put in a marathon session behind the wheel. However, it is recommended to take a break every two hours when driving, and given the extra concentration needed when towing, these enforced breaks can only serve to improve road safety, can’t they?
In the majority of situations, I could work the car charging around doing other things. In Arisaig we looked around the local museum and enjoyed a great dog-friendly cafe. In Stirlingshire the car charged while I had dinner with friends. In Killin it charged while Dougal and I enjoyed the walks through the woods.
However, there was one time during the trip when I didn’t need a break but the car needed charging. This break I consider to be Lost Time, and that was in Tobermory. The weather was awful, I didn’t want to leave the caravan unattended, and while I did do a bit of filming, it was an hour of my time lost that I’ll never get back. We could have tried the local hostelry to see if they’d allowed Dougal to go in, but I just wasn’t in the mood.
However, I didn’t need to lose time filling up the truck with diesel. For this trip, I’d have needed to do so twice, but even that would only equate to the time it took to plug in the EV and start the charger on the remaining charging stops. Some of the Lost Time was clawed back by the convenience of being able to charge on site, but overall I’d have lost far less time with the diesel truck:
EV - 70 minutes
Diesel - 10 minutes
So there you have the run-down of how I arrived at these figures.
When trying something new, as we have done so here, it’s always a good idea to start small and work your way up. I ran my first 5k in over a year yesterday, but when I started running again nine weeks ago I was only running a few bursts of a couple of hundred metres. If you’re new to caravanning, it’s never a good idea to embark on an ambitious trip off the bat, it’s far better to start small and increase the length and duration of your trips as you gain confidence.
In July we intend to go further afield and head South of the border into England, and see how driving on a motorway and a dual carriageway affects the consumption. Fingers crossed we’ll be trying out different kinds of caravan later in the year, and hopefully going even further afield with the EV and Caravan rig.
I hope you found this interesting as a change from the usual content of Streamlining, and thank you for joining us for this enjoyable trip - despite the Scottish weather!
How to Support Streamlining
There are two ways you can support me and this newsletter:
1. If you wish, you can show your support for what I do through Buy Me a Coffee. Although I’ll probably end up buying tea. Or snacks for Dougal.
I understand that not everyone who would like to will be in a position to support in this way, and that’s absolutely fine! My content is available to everyone, regardless of their circumstances.
2. Most importantly, please subscribe and share Streamlining with those who you think will enjoy it.