Tesla Model Y – What Can It Tow?

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The Tesla Model Y was launched in the US after the success of the Model 3. In fact, the Model Y is stated to share roughly 75% of the parts used to build the Model 3. Therefore, the Model Y is viewed by some as a slightly larger/taller variant of the Model 3. However, there are a couple of important and notable differences. First, the Model Y is a hatchback, hence loading and unloading the Model Y is much easier than the Model 3, also importantly the towing capacity of the Model Y is higher at 1,600 kg.

Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y is looking to have a UK towing capacity of 1,600 kg: Image – Tesla.com

Key Tesla Model Y Specs

  • Official Towing Capacity – 1,600 kg
  • Availability – Early 2022
  • Predicted Pricing – Starting £54,000 (Long Range) > £60,000 (Performance)
  • Range (EV Database) – 255 miles (Long Range) > 250 miles (Performance)
  • Estimated Towing Range (50%) – 128 miles (Long Range) > 125 miles (Performance)
  • Maximum DC Charge Rate – 210 kW
  • Rapid Charge 10% to 80% – 29min (Long Range & Performance)
  • Check Used Tesla Model Y Specs

Tesla Model Y HP & Torque

  • Long Range – AWD with 434 HP and 364 lb-ft of torque
  • Performance – AWD with 563 HP and 487 lb-ft of torque

Tesla Model Y UK Release & Towing Capabilities

The first versions of the Model Y which will be delivered to customers in early 2022 will be made in China models. However, I expect the majority of the Model Ys which will be coming to the UK going forward will be made in Tesla’s new Berlin factory using their latest 4680 cells, and will feature a structural battery pack as you can read here.

If none of the above about battery cell numbers etc made any sense to you I do apologize, I do want to try and keep the geeky stuff off these vehicle towing summary pages. Just know, that its likely those Tesla Model Y’s coming from the Berlin factory with a structural battery pack and 4680 cells will be the superior versions.

The towing capacity of the UK spec Tesla Model Y will be 1,600kg for both the Long Range and Performance variants. While I’ve included below some UK reviews of the first versions of the Model Y which will arrive in the UK, when it comes to towing the best resource of information is still from the US where the Model Y has been used for towing for several years now.

First UK Tesla Model Y Reviews

I’ve included two UK reviews of the first versions of the Long Range Model Y which will be able in the UK. The first video is from AutoTrader and the second is from CarGurus.

Both praise the performance of the Model Y, its range, efficiency and the fact it obviously has access to the widely available Tesla Supercharger network as well as public rapid charger stations. However, there is an area where these initial versions of the Model Y are let down, and that’s their suspension/ride comfort.

AutoTrader review of the 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range
CarGurus review of the 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range

So both of the reviews above on the first versions of the Model Y to hit these shores conclude the same thing. Ride comfort is not great and upgrading to the larger 20″ wheels is not helping matters. When the Performance version arrives with 21″ wheels the issue is likely to be even more pronounced.

Now, there are rumours with some compelling evidence that the Tesla Model Y may be getting an air suspension option (see here). Hence, that could be another reason along with the structural battery pack upgrade from the made in Berlin versions of the car to hold off on a Model Y order if you’re interested.

US Tesla Model Y Towing Information

Once the Model Y is available in the UK and there are some UK specific videos I can reference on the Model Y and its towing capabilities I’ll be updating this page. However, for now, feel free to read the content below which I wrote for my US specific Tesla Model Y page on its towing capabilities.

Official VS Aftermarket Tesla Model Y Tow Hitch

So when it comes to setting up a Tesla Model Y for towing there are two options. Go the official route and order the car from Tesla with the tow package and pay an additional $1,000 ($1,200 all-in). Alternatively, an aftermarket tow hitch could be purchased such as the EcoHitch from Torklift Central.

This may be the cheaper option, but there are several factors to consider first. For instance, the EcoHitch as standard does not come with any wiring harness. Hence, as standard its only really suitable for bike racks etc, not towing a trailer where the rear lights need to work.

Furthermore, you obviously also have to factor in installation costs. Whether that’s paying someone to install the EcoHitch/Wiring harness or doing it yourself. Even with DIY, your time does have value, so remember that.

Why the official Tesla Model Y towing package maybe your best option

The other important factor to consider as Mathew from LivingTesla discusses above is Tow Mode software. Only the official Tesla towing package will come with this feature.

As of now, the key feature of Tow Mode is the car will check that the lights are working correctly in terms of the connection between the Model Y and trailer. It will also disable Autopilot, as currently its just not safe for use while towing due to braking distances being increased when towing etc.

Tesla Software Updates For Tow Mode

If you knew you were only ever going to use a bike rack on the tow hitch, sure I can see the appeal of the potentially cheaper aftermarket EcoHitch option. However, personally, if I was going to tow a trailer with the Model Y it would be an easy choice of the official Tesla towing package.

Why? Well, Tesla is well known for its software updates which improve the cars over time. Hence, its only with the official tow package that you will be able to take advantage of specific Tesla software updates related to Tow Mode. But what could those software updates be?

Well, I wouldn’t expect Autopilot Tow Mode any time soon, as the car has no way of seeing behind and around the trailer, it won’t have sufficient information to make safe judgments on manoeuvres. However, what I do expect Tesla to release in the future is a Tow Mode range predictor.

Typically an electric tow car will achieve 50% of its real-world range when towing. However, currently, no electric car provides a range prediction that is adjusted for towing. Hence, I expect Tesla to be the first to market with such a software update for the Tesla Model Y and X.

Therefore, while the official Tesla Model Y tow package is the more expensive upfront cost, as it comes with Tow Mode software I expect it to provide more value over time. This is purely a guess on my part that specific Tow Mode software will be provided by Tesla in the future. However, I personally feel its a pretty safe bet.

Long Term Tesla Model Y Towing Test

The best resource I’ve found so far if you are looking to find out how capable the Tesla Model Y is when it comes to towing is the Electric Road Trip YouTube Channel.

It covers the experiences of using a Tesla Model Y to tow a 2,300 lb Casita camper over not hundreds but thousands of miles. The video below covers the first leg of the trip from Calhoun GA to Manchester TN which is 130 miles.

If you are seriously interested in the Tesla Model Y for towing, I would encourage you to watch more videos on the channel which demonstrates how you do really have to plan ahead and study the terrain/elevations upon which you will be travelling.

While going downhill in an EV you can potentially gain range, but going uphill is a very different situation. Going uphill towing, the 50% range reduction while towing doesn’t apply. Consumption could be much higher than that.

The first leg of the Electric Road Trip with a Tesla Model Y towing a 2,300 lb camper

The Tesla Model Y used in the road trip is the Long Range, therefore it has a roughly estimated towing range 156 miles, which is 50% of the EPA stated range of 315 miles. Therefore, based on those figures the Tesla Model Y should easily make the 130-mile journey. However, as stated above, that 50% range reduction is just a general estimate.

For instance, the EPA states the Tesla Model Y Long Range will consume 280 watts per mile to achieve the range of 315 miles. Hence, when towing the 50% range reduction guestimate would predict an electrical consumption of 560 watts per mile. However, as you can see early on in the video above consumption was seen to be in excess of 800 watts per mile. As is stated in the video ‘that is not sustainable’.

Respectable Average Consumption

Towards the end of the video, the car and trailer are seen charging at a trailer spot at a Tesla Supercharger station. While a few of the Tesla Supercharger stations have trailer spots, they are currently not that common.

Furthermore, you can see they are not ideally designed, as even a small trailer on the back of the Model Y is not well-positioned for other vehicles to pass and to get in and out of the spot.

So I expect some significant redesigns of Tesla Supercharger stations before the Cybertruck comes along which is a much larger vehicle capable of towing much larger trailers.

When it comes to the average consumption though when towing, the Tesla Model Y actually produced some very respectable results. While earlier in the trip consumption was very high at over 800 watts per mile, the average over the whole 130-mile trip turned out to be 425 watts per mile which was a total consumption of 59kWh.

However, that figure is below the general estimated consumption of the Tesla Model Y towing of 560 watts per mile. Hence, I believe quite a bit of that 130-mile journey may have been driving to a lower elevation (going downhill).

My Thoughts…

In 2022 the Tesla Model Y will finally be in UK customers hands. However, as stated in the reviews above the poor ride comfort of these first versions is by no means ideal. Sticking to the base 19″ wheels with their larger tyres does appear to be the best option, and it will give more range too.

Though generally for the next couple of years at least the Tesla Model Y is going to be one of the most compelling electric tow cars. With a practical towing capacity of 1,600kg, good efficiency/range and access to the Tesla Supercharger network are big ticks in its favour.

When the superior made in Berlin version arrives (hopefully with an air suspension option) that will further strengthen the position of the Tesla Model Y as one of the best options for an electric tow car.

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