Tesla Model 3 – What Can It Tow?

Hi, I’m Chris. About Me

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). There are currently three versions of the Model 3 the base RWD version, Long Range AWD and Performance. However, only the RWD and Long Range AWD versions have a towing capacity of 1,000kg.

Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 has an official UK rated towing capacity of 1,000 kg: Image – Tesla.com

Key Tesla Model 3 Specs

  • Official Towing Capacity – 1,000 kg
  • Availabiity – Now
  • Price – Starting £41,990 (RWD) > £46,490 (AWD Long Range)
  • Range (EV Database) – 235 miles (RWD) > 280 miles (Long Range)
  • Estimated Towing Range (50%) – 118 miles (RWD) > 140 miles (Long Rage)
  • Maximum DC Charge Rate – 170kW (RWD) > 210kW (Long Range)
  • Rapid Charge 10% to 80% – 25min (RWD) > 29min (Long Range)
  • Check Used Tesla Model 3 Specs

Tesla Model 3 HP & Torque

  • Model 3 – RWD with 321 HP and 310 b-ft of torque
  • Model 3 Long Range – 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. However, the updated towing specifications for the base RWD Model 3 and the Long Range Model 3 is 1,000 kg.

Currently, the Tesla Model 3 Performance is not rated to tow. 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 previously stated:

Tow Hitch cannot be installed after delivery” – Tesla.com

Now, this is no longer stated on the Tesla website, so it would appear it’s possible to get Tesla to fit a tow bar to a Model 3 after purchase, maybe to a second-hand Tesla Model 3?

If you are interested in the Model 3 best to talk to Tesla directly to check the latest circumstances to do with the tow bar. After all, on a Tesla in particular you want to make sure the car’s software knows a tow bar is fitted.

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.

Well, it would appear that the noseweight limit of the Tesla Model 3 is limited to 55kg. Therefore, when taking full advantage of the cars 1,000kg towing capacity, that 55kg noseweight limit is not ideal.

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.

How to fit the official tow hitch on the Tesla Model 3

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

So the first video I’ve included below is a UK example of the experience of using a Tesla Model 3 Long Range to tow a small Bailey caravan. After some initial range anxiety concerns due to high consumption, the end result was a positive experience.

Using a Tesla Model 3 AWD Long Range to tow a small Bailey Discovery

If you want more data on towing with a Model 3 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.

Tesla Model 3 range test results while towing a small trailer

As you can see from the video above, the Tesla Model 3 in rainy conditions will increase the consumption/reduce range achieved to a range of 214 miles while towing. As Bjørn states in the video had the conditions 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 I’ve stated above of 140 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.

DrivingElectric review of the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

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.

My Thoughts…

So how practical is the 1,000 kg towing capacity of the Model 3? Well, its suitable for 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 such as the Bailey Discovery as seen in the video above.

Furthermore, as of writing this article, the Tesla Model 3 can charge at reasonably fast rates and has access to the Tesla Supercharger network. What’s going to become very clear to anyone interested in an electric tow car is charge rate along with rapid 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/rapid charging network.

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