The Tesla Model 3 was first launched on to the US market in 2017 (summer 2019 in the UK) as Tesla’s first attempt at a more affordable mass-market electric car after their earlier/more expensive vehicles the original Roadster, Model S and the Model X. The Tesla Model 3, like all Tesla vehicles, is a 100% BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle). Below I’ll discuss and reference the various Model 3 versions, and I’ll also discuss its towing capabilities and predicted/estimated towing range. While the Tesla Model 3 has no official US towing capacity, it does have a rated towing capacity in the UK of up to 1,000 kg (2,200 is lbs).
Key Tesla Model 3 Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 1,000 kg
- Availabiity – Now
- Price – Starting £40,490 (Standard Range Plus) > £46,490 (Long Range)
- Range (EV Database) – 200 miles (Standard Range Plus) > 290 miles (Long Range)
- Estimated Towing Range (50%) – 100 miles (Standard Range Plus) > 145 miles (Long Rage)
- Maximum Charge Rate – 250 kW (V3 Tesla Supercharger)
Tesla Model 3 HP & Torque
- Standard Range Plus – RWD with 320 HP and 310 b-ft of torque
- Long Range Dual Motor – AWD with 434 HP and 364 lb-ft of torque
Tesla Model 3 Towing Capabilities
When the Tesla Model 3 was first released in the UK it was originally rated to tow 910 kg (2,006 lbs). However, the updated towing specifications for the Standard Range Plus and the Long Range Dual Motor is 1,000 kg (2,200 ish lbs).
You may have noticed I’ve not included the specifications of the top of the range Tesla Model 3 Performance. As that version has the highest power and torque figures surely that’s the best Model 3 for towing? Well, no, as Tesla does not offer the Performance with the optional tow package which is available for the Standard Range Plus and Long Range Dual Motor. Likely due to issues towing on the large 20″ Uberturbine wheels.
On the subject of the towing package for the Model 3 with Trailer Mode its a £1,000 optional extra and importantly, Tesla states:
“Tow Hitch cannot be installed after delivery” – Tesla.com
Why is that the case? Well, I’ve not seen an official explanation from Tesla as of yet. Who knows, this position from Tesla may change in the future. However, as of right now, if you want to use a Tesla Model 3 as an electric tow car you either need to order one as new with the towing package specified or purchase a second-hand car which did choose the package.
What About Tesla Model 3 Tow Hitch Noseweight Limit?
The tow hitch noseweight limit also referred to in more technical terms as the ‘Maximum Static Vertical Mass at the Coupling Point’ is important. If too much weight is placed on the tow hitch its self the rear suspension on the vehicle can be compromised. If you have ever seen the rear end of a car almost dragging across the road when its towing a trailer/caravan, its likely the vehicles tow hitch noseweight limit has been exceeded.
So what is the tow hitch noseweight limit for the Tesla Model 3? Well, its not actually stated on Tesla.com on the order page. Even the guys over at the ev-database.co.uk who I’ll be referencing for realistic ranges etc don’t have a figure for the noseweight limit.
Checking out the TeslaMotorsClub Forum on the topic though it would appear the noseweight limit is 100 kg, which is pretty respectable for any tow car of this size/towing capacity. Though it appears the maximum accessory (bike rack) weight limit on the tow ball is only 55kg though? I’m a bit confused by that one I must admit.
Fitting The Tesla Model 3 Tow Hitch
Below is a good quick video which shows how the official detachable Tesla Model 3 tow hitch comes packaged with the vehicle and how to actually fit it. First, you have to remove a plastic panel on the bottom of the rear bumper to access the tow hitch receiver. You then simply push the tow hitch up into the receiver and it locks into position.
To remove the tow hitch its simply a case of releasing the locking mechanism before you can pull the tow hitch out of the receiver. I must admit though, connecting up the electrical socket for the trailers rear lights is not going to be fun/easy. You have to get close to the ground to be able to see where the electrical connector is positioned and to fit the cable.
At the end of the video, you can see how Trailer Mode should be enabled prior to towing. Activating Trailer Mode will disable Autopilot which is not currently designed to work safely while towing. In the future, I predict Trailer Mode will be updated with advanced Sat Nav/Towing range statistics etc.
Tesla Model 3 Towing Range/Efficiency Results
Currently, I’m not aware of any UK specific towing tests with the Model 3 which have been conducted. However, Bjørn Nyland has a YouTube channel and is well known for producing some of the most detailed electric car range and efficiency tests over in Norway. The first video he produced towing with a Model 3 was for a large trailer.
However, really, for the 1,000 kg towing capacity of the Model 3 that larger trailer with anything in it would really be above the towing capacity of the car. Therefore, I’ve included Bjørn’s second test below of towing a much smaller trailer with the Model 3, which is more representative of how the car could be used for towing.
As you can see from the video above, the Tesla Model 3 in rainy conditions which will increase the consumption/reduce range achieved a range of 214 miles while towing. As Bjørn states in the video, had the condition been dry the towing range could have been higher, around 230 miles.
Now, you may have noticed that 230 miles is significantly more than the estimated towing range stated above of 145 miles for the Long Range Dual Motor Tesla Model 3 which Bjørn is driving. This is an example of where currently, predicting the towing range of EV’s is still a dark art.
The 50% range reduction is just a guestimate. Depending on weather conditions, the aerodynamics of the car/trailer and elevation changes then the range can potentially be significantly more or less than the 50% guestimate of the cars non-towing range.
Tesla Model 3 Features and Reviews
So above we’ve covered what the Tesla Model 3 is like as an electric tow car, we should also look at what its like as an electric car in general. Currently, I think the best UK specific Tesla Model 3 review is from DrivingElectric below.
While towing is referenced in the review above, please note the video above was filmed in the summer of 2019 before the revision to the towing capacity took place. Therefore, as I’ve stated above, while the Model 3 was originally spec’d to tow 910 kg, the rating is now 1,000 kg.
As of writing this post (October 2020) the Tesla Model 3 is currently the cheapest electric car you can buy with an official towing capacity from the manufacturer. How practical is the 1,000 kg towing capacity of the Model 3? Well, its suited to small trailers for camping trips or going to the recycling centre/tip. Its not really sufficient for many caravans seen commonly on UK roads, though it could be used to tow teardrop campers and certain small caravans.
Furthermore, as of writing this article, the Tesla Model 3 is actually capable of a faster charging rate on a V3 (250 kW) Tesla Supercharger than most electric cars. What’s going to become very clear to anyone interested in an electric tow car is charge rate along with charger availability is going to be very important. If you lose 50% of your range when towing, getting charge back into that battery as fast as possible is doubly important. And currently, Tesla’s Supercharger network is hands down the most widely available of any high-speed charging network.