Caravan and Caravan Magazine tests: EL car + caravan = true
Norwegian politicians talk about banning the sale of new cars with gasoline or diesel engines in 2025. Then we will drive electric zero-emission cars. How would you like to go with me on a car trip with a caravan behind - maybe you think? Will this still be possible? As a first journal, BoCM has conducted a test trip with just an electric car in front of a caravan
The electric cars have come to stay. So far this year, 28% of all newly registered passenger cars in Norway were powered by electricity, and the production capacity of the car factories was higher, this figure would be even higher. What does this mean to those who love to hang the caravan on the hook and travel crosswise - free like the bird and full of adventure? It has been written as much about "range anxiety" associated with the use of electric cars, and although the batteries have grown and charging stations many, there are still many who are still skeptical. And what happens when you want to hang a car up to 1500 kg behind the car? Are electric cars at all useful for the caravan people?
Electric cars in different formats
We will not be very many years back before small electric cars like the Norwegian Think and the Japanese Mitsubishi iMiEV were unprecedented among the electric cars. Small, narrow and quite lean equipped to take advantage of expensive battery packs to acceptable mileage. In practice, these cars are suitable for small driving within a local area, or commuting over a limited distance. The big and advanced electric car Tesla turned down on people's perception of electric cars. Well-helped by Norwegian politicians' desire to phase in zero-size vehicles on a large scale, this newly-developed US electric car brand became a "flying start" when launched in Norway in 2013. Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla, definitely took the traditional car brands "on the bed" and gained a leading position in the more expensive and luxurious part of the electric car market. From being a completely unknown brand, Tesla today has become the benchmark for how technically advanced - and how big batteries an electric car has to have - for car buyers to equate this with any large family car with a traditional combustion engine under the hood. All major car manufacturers in the world now have electric cars on the program, or will launch them in the next two years. Meanwhile, Tesla has moved the boundaries further, and with the big Model X, Norwegians have fulfilled two important wishes: It has four-wheel drive and trailer fittings.
The battery determines
How far an electric car can run between each charge is about the size of the battery and how much electrical energy it takes to drive the car one kilometer. It's just like a traditional car: how big is the fuel tank and how many liters of fuel does the car use per mile? Then we know that the stated petrol or diesel consumption in the car's brochures is dependent on factors such as traffic conditions, geography, weather, season and, not least, personal driving style. If you hang on a trailer, consumption increases significantly, and with the full load the steep slopes up to the cabin multiply the consumption. A large caravan represents not only increased weight but also high air resistance that must be overcome. The range of electric cars has so far been reported according to a so-called NEDC standard. This is, to put it mildly, a bit optimistic in its method. A new standard, WLTP, is about to be introduced, and this gives a more truthful picture of electric cars power consumption and range. Every day I drive a Hyundai Ioniq Electric. This one has a battery of 28 kWh. With a stated consumption of 100 watt / km, the theoretical range 280 km will be stated in the car's brochure. Is it possible to get the car going so far? Well ... but we will come back to the end of the article.
Amounts of excitement
As a test car for our trip with a caravan, we have used a Tesla Model X P90D. In addition to four-wheel drive and trailer fittings, the car can be configured with up to seven seats, making it a fully-fledged family car that offers both space and fine speed resources. The model designation coincides with the battery capacity, which in this case is 90 kWh. Tesla reports a mixed consumption of 184 watt per kilometer (1,84 kWh / mile) for the 539 hk strong car. In theory, this gives a range of 480 km, but now we are going to begin to look into the battery's technical limitations and how driving conditions also play in the range you can achieve.
To ensure long life of the lithium-ion batteries found in the vast majority of electric cars today, the electronics ensure that the batteries can never be used fully down to zero, nor should they ever be charged up to the maximum. It is not uncommon for these limits to be around 10% at each end, and then we get a net battery capacity of 72 kWh for this Tesla. Such an estimate complies well with both the stated consumption (1,84 kWh / mile) and the calculated mileage of the car's computer, we say that we have full batteries. At four full loads - where we loaded to the maximum level - we were given the 384, 384, 387 and 385 km range in the car's display. However, there are few Tesla X owners who "drive on spare blus" to achieve the lowest possible consumption.
The good range, coupled with a well-developed network of "Supercharger" charging stations, makes the most of both power and electrically powered comfort equipment, such as air conditioning, without having to "save" to reach the destination. A typical consumption of around 2,5 kWh per mile is stated by Tesla owners I have talked to, and a couple of them have also driven a bit of trailer behind the car. When consumed at least the double, I heard. Other Norwegian car journalists have stated 3,0 kWh as test results when tested by the Tesla Model X P90D, but then the right-hand side has been heavy, the pleasure of the car's dynamics is high, and the driving hours are quite short. My project with a camping trip therefore has certain challenges. If I've been told voices, I only get a range of around 17 miles before the battery is empty - and I must also have a spare in order to reach the charging stations on the trip.
Free route selection
After all, it has become a well-developed network of charging stations in Norway. Initially, most charging points were set up in municipal government. Most people have a 16A course for use with a regular power outlet and a charging time of half an hour for an empty battery. Now it has become a well-developed network of quick chargers, driven by private actors. Thus, it is possible to charge the batteries to 80% on most electric cars at anything from anywhere between half an hour and an hour. A Tesla owner has an exclusive network of quick chargers that owners of other car brands can not use and if the owner additionally registers as a customer of the two largest private players, Fortum and Green Contact, there is also a large network of quick chargers available. .
One of my favorite tours in the spring is a trip of a couple of three days from Oslo over to Western Norway and back. From spring and light green birch jungle in eastern Norway, past the last remains of snow on the mountain crossings, to flowering in warm and sheltered fjords in western Norway. A look of different kinds with available charging stations showed that this would not be impossible with an electric car this time, but would it be feasible with a caravan on the hook?
As "electric carist" you learn many different "tricks". Not only when it comes to the lowest possible power consumption when going out for a long trip, but also how the trip can be done with the least amount of stress in relation to the battery's reach, time wasted at charging stations and what are practical day-trips. First bid, of course, is to start with fully charged battery. Then try to plan charging stops where it also fits with a coffee cup, a little eating, shopping or visiting attractive sights. With good planning, you will find that "wasted" time for charging is reduced to a minimum and your trip will be enjoyable. All of this is obviously easy to see in theory, but what happens when we hang a caravan on 4,6 meters and 1256 kg behind the electric car?
The first Tesla Supercharger charging station on us from Oslo (or Drammen, which I started from the morning) is on Gol. The distance is 17, 5 mile and after two hours and forty minutes, it just matched the morning meal. Consumption had been 3,0 kW per mile, 32% of capacity was still left. After an hour and fifteen minutes, I had a full tank and was ready for Hemsedalsfjellet. When the slopes get steeper, power consumption increases and some average measurements on the way to the county boundary between Buskerud and Sogn and Fjordane tell us that 4,74 kwh of battery capacity disappeared for every mile we climbed upwards ...
But happiness is regeneration, and after 23,2 mile driving to the next charging station in the evening, average consumption was down in 2,87 kWh per mile. Do not mess badly, and far better than the skeptics had predicted in advance. A day trip on 40 miles is absolutely approved.
One slight challenge is to leave the car with a caravan on a tow. It is quite common with the charging switch at the front or rear of electric cars - and then you have to drive in with the front or back to the ladder. Tesla has the charging switch on the left side and the posts are positioned so that the car must be retracted. A little unhappy with a caravan, which must be disconnected. At some charging stations, you drive sideways - as with a petrol pump - and if you do not pick up space for others, you do not need to unplug the car. On this trip I was lucky and it was only once I needed this.
Måbødalen sucks energy
One of the greatest energy challenges of this trip was Måbødalen. After a short photo stop midway between Eidfjord and Vøringsfossen we got the proof of how much energy it costs to move four tonnes seven hundred meters above sea level. At the most extreme - when I set the equipement in motion and drove the steepest kilometers - power was equivalent to a consumption of 9,44 kWh per mile. Then it was reassuring to know that I had many alternative charging stations on the road to Oslo.
Taste of success
Total mileage was at 79,7 mile, and on the trip we visited lovely tourist pearls like Lærdalsøyri, Aurland, Flåm, Voss, Ulvik and Eidsfjord. Hardangervidda is one of our National Tourist Routes and is a great experience in yourself. On our way east we left the trip through Numedal: the medieval valley with its many well-preserved farmstead, stabbur and stave churches. Only one place I chose to change the route because of "loose stomach" compared to having enough power reserve to reach the planned quick charger. Then I got a hint of range anxiety, and with the air conditioner switched off to save power it was uncomfortably hot behind the big windshield. But dare, I've learned to live with it, and I've never run out of power for all the years I've driven an electric car.
The average consumption of the trip was 2,82 kWh per mile - and no one had believed in advance. Compared to cars powered by gasoline and diesel, it also sounds good. My Hyundai Ioniq Electric - which is a golf-sized car - I get to use 1,15 kWh per mile. A real tractor with a caravan on tow uses about two and a half times as much fuel as a middle-class car without hanging. Consumption of power appears with almost the same ratio. But ... and that's a big but. Electric winter driving is challenging in terms of reach, and with a forecast of 350 - 400 000 electric cars on the road in Norway in 2020, we need charging stations that can handle a larger number of electric cars at a time. It does not help with quick charging if the queue in front of you is long.
It was an unforgettable trip - so camping tours always stay. Nice meetings, dedication and beautiful scenery are a winning combination, and the electric car made it an extra exciting experience this time. BoCM's test shows that it is possible to drive a caravan by electric car as a tractor, but it poses some challenges along the way.
BoCM thanks Camping in Drammen for lending of car and Tesla Norway for car lending for this test trip.
A typical driving license
To carry out this test we have used a Hobby caravan. This brand has been the best selling in Norway ever since 1982 and is well-known among magazine readers. The model is called 460 LU De Luxe Edition and is a typical travel car for a couple on a trip, where it can also sleep up to two people in the lounge. Seat section in the front, middle section with kitchen and bathroom, as well as two single beds behind is a classic and well-functioning solution. Vogna is nice and stable with a good aerodynamic design of the front and the dragon. With a weight weight of 1256 kg and the total weight of 1500 kg, this is a vehicle that is in a favorable weight class for many different car models. Vogna has been loaned by Campinggården in Drammen.
The hangers come
Our choice of Tesla Model X P90D as a test car is because this is the only electric car that can pull a caravan as in this article. Maximum trailer weight (with brake) is 2250 kg. We have been in contact with all the Norwegian importers of electric cars, and in addition to the Tesla X, only the Renault Kangoo ZE can be delivered with a trailer fitting. However, the permissible towing weight is only 375 kg - and in practice, only small loading trailers can be used.
However, we stand in front of the launch of several new electric cars that will allow for attachment of trailer trailer and good towing capacity. Jaguar i-Pace coming to Norway in September. The information suggested 700 kg towing weight on this four-wheel drive electric car. A little later, Audi will be e-throne. The importer of Audi, or Mercedes, who launches the EQC electric car in February next year, confirms that the cars will be delivered with trailer fittings - and they will hardly let Tesla be alone to offer cars that can pull a caravan.
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