Budget EV Towing With The ID.4

A recent video from TFLEV shows us that you don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive electric pickup to tow a trailer. In this case, the ID.4 got the job done on a long trip, including carrying some belongings during a cross-country move.

In the video, they start off by showing what happened with a young couple. Grand and Felicia didn’t use an $80k+ electric pickup truck to pull a trailer. Instead, they pulled a small trailer with a Volkswagen ID.4. And, they went across the country, so they’ve got some experience doing this kind of towing.

The biggest question people probably have for this is, “Why?”, and they had a pretty good answer. They were moving from California (the EV capitol of the United States) to North Carolina. No, they didn’t stuff the trailer full of their belongings, but the goal was to get them, the car, and the trailer from A to B, even if A and B are far apart. They really didn’t have much of a choice, and needed to find a way to make it work out if they didn’t want to pay for an expensive car-hauling service for both vehicles.

The couple previously drove a Subaru Outback, which is why they have a small travel trailer instead of a big one. But, this works out for the ID.4, because large trailers tend to eat up a lot of range. When the Subaru started to get in bad shape, they upgraded to the ID.4, which does have a small tow rating. They were also shopping Bolts, but the lack of a tow rating on that discouraged them. Unlike in some European countries, tow ratings aren’t legally binding or affect your insurance coverage in the United States, but they wanted to be sure it would work out instead of trying it anyway like many people (that’s me–I’m “many people”).

EV trucks were out of their price range, and they also considered a Tesla Model Y, but they liked the ID.4 better.

When it comes to efficiency, it had to take a back seat to the needs of the move. They didn’t focus on aero too much for the trip, either. Instead of the smoother surface for the Scamp 13, they put some bikes on a rack above the tongue, which definitely adds some drag. They also loaded more fragile belongings in the back of the ID.4, making for extra weight. And, it’s a rear-drive version of the vehicle, not the more expensive and powerful AWD model.

Despite basically piling on every disadvantage they could, range wasn’t absolutely terrible. Normally, they’d get 3.5-3.6 miles/kWh unloaded with no trailer, or about 260 miles of range. With the trailer, they’re getting between 1.8 and 2.4 miles/kWh, with 1.8-1.9 being more common. Range at that consumption level is between 135-155 miles. But, speed is a big factor. If they could go 45 MPH the whole way, they’d get almost 200 miles of range.

Today’s EV charging network doesn’t cover the backroads very well, meaning that they have to mostly stick to the interstates on drives like this. Going 45 MPH is a good way to get into an accident, so they have to speed up for safety and use more power, which means getting less range.

Camping in the Scamp 13 has worked out pretty well for them. Instead of paying for hotels, they only spend about $35 for a space to camp but not to charge up. They aren’t doing the Walmart boondocking trick to save more money, but it still beats hotels and buying all meals out on a trip. The free charging they get at Electrify America is also a factor here, as it’s cheaper to charge for free than to pay more for a spot with charging or a 50-amp plug.

The camper was originally bought as a fixer-upper so they did a lot of repairs to get it ready for a cross-country trip. A previous trip was hotels only, because it wasn’t inhabitable. But, now it has a bathroom and a shower, making for a good experience on trips without hotels. It has a small kitchenette, so they can save even more money by cooking at home in the camper for some meals. It also serves as a home during the move when they’re house-hunting, so they didn’t have to figure out a house over the internet ahead of time.

The trip ended up being mostly free because of the ID.4 free charging deal, but had they had to pay Electrify America’s normal rates, it still wouldn’t have been terribly expensive, at $275 to get from California to Colorado. Time is also spent at chargers, but with a trailer on the back, they at least have a place to hang out like they would have at home.

One charge they had to pay for was a Magic Dock Supercharger in Moab (literally nobody else operates a CCS charger in the area), and they said that worked out pretty well for them, too. In some ways, stopping to take a break every couple of hours helps them to make it a less stressful trip. They have only needed to unhook the trailer about half the time, but with all of those stops, they felt like they had it “down to a science”. He did say that it would have been a lot easier with a front charging port instead of the rear charging port the ID.4 has.

All in all, it doesn’t sound like a terrible experience. For many people already used to towing with a gas-powered vehicle, the idea of stopping often probably sounds like a terrible thing. But, nobody can really understand what they haven’t experienced yet. Instead of complaining, they seem to have been happy with the experience anyway.

The more relaxed pace might seem stressful to people trying to make the best time they can, but with a place to sit and eat, and maybe even take a nap, it’s not that bad. As was said in the movie Cars, sometimes it’s more about having a good time than making good time.

Featured image: screenshot from the above video.

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