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Subject Topic: Towing with an EV - trip report
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Message posted by tdrees09/12/2021 at 9:48am
Outfit:  Bailey Unicorn S3 Vigo + Polestar 2     Location:  Northamptonshire
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My first post here having been a member for ages! Thought some might find it of interest. I have towed about 1600 miles this year all with my EV, and decided to share my findings.

Warning - Very long post alert!

Towcar - Polestar 2 LongRange Dual motor Launch edition. (300kW motors (408ps) , 78kWh battery)
Caravan - Bailey Unicorn Vigo S3 Max weight upgrade.
2 Passengers on way - me and SWMBO - 4 on return (daughters joined us mid trip).
Start - Towcester in South Northants. Destination Borrowdale cub site in the Lake district.

7:00am 100%
We left home on the Friday morning (22nd Oct) at about 7:00am Car was charged to 100% over night and preconditioned using mains power. Roads were damp but clear skys and about 8C. Our route planned was A43 to M1, M1 to M6, M6 to Penrith and then down to Keswick and the site. I had planned for two charging stops, the 1st near Stoke on Trent and the second around Lancaster.

We got going in fairly light traffic until joining the M1. When towing with the EV, I set cruise at 56mph, but as soon as I find a big lorry, I tuck in behind it for slipstreaming and follow it. If a faster lorry comes past, I will pull out and follow that.
Progress was fine with a minor slow down on the M6 near J3, and good all through Birmingam. From getting started, I was watching my economy (kWh/100miles is how the car displays it) and looking for a number below 67 (lower is better) - my target for the journey. By Birmingham the number was at about 60 and I was very comfortable with a 2 stop strategy. Unfortunately, as we drove we were getting reports of major congestion on the M6 after Stafford with major queues. While that would be good for the EV economy - not so good for arrival time, so we opted for an early pit stop in Stafford services.

9:00am 35%
Stafford Northbound has two new Gridserve chargers and I had already looked at the location in the carpark. Ignoring the "caravans here" sign, we headed for the main carpark and found a quiet spot away from the cafe area near the white vans that accumulate there. Unhitched the van in a space, and I drove the 50 meters to the charger. One was in use and I popped the car on the other, starting the charge at 9:09. After 2 hours on the road I was ready for a coffee and cheeky bacon sarnie, so Greggs did the job. My wife and I took turns to head in and use the facilities, while the other guarded the van (corner steady down, sat inside). I consumed my coffee and food, opted for a second bathroom break and then we were ready to go again. 40 mins of charging yielded 34.7kWh (half a battery) and 72%. The charge was pretty slow by my cars standard averaging about 40kW


9:50am 72%
We hit the road again and battled through the rest of the M6 hold up with some rain kicking in. While in Stafford, we had decided to stop at Crow Orchard, a new 8 station charging hub South of Charnock Richard or - if the battery would stretch - at Charnock Richard, and then again near Penrith. The 1st stop at Stafford was earlier than I had planned and a 3 stop strategy seemed inevitable. As the miles rolled on, slipstreaming another big rig, I realised my economy was around 57kWh/100miles - much better than I had hoped. A quick calculation and look at WhatsApp and ABRP, revealed the E.ON chargers at Preston East - an ultra rapid, and in reach of our destination in one go if we got a good charge.

11:35 16% 164 miles
We pulled in again to the Starbucks at Preston East. A big wide space, right next to the 2 chargers was sitting waiting to take the caravan. Quick unhitch and onto charge. Once again, we took turns to use the facilities, had a coffee, and decided to eat a bit of early lunch. A couple of other EVs came and went, with the usual chatter (Is that a citroen - no, its a Polestar; What's it like towing the caravan - great; is it fast - very.) 48 mins ticked by and we hit the 90% needed to get all the way to Keswick. In the time it took me to get out and ready to unplug we hit 92.


12:31 92%
The E.ON charger had been fast, 63kWh pulled in in 56 mins, still not as fast as the car can charge, but good. On the road one final time. We had a hard time finding a lorry to follow after ours inconsiderately left the M6 toward Blackpool, but did get onto one on the way up Shap. Economy suffered a bit, but not too badly, and I had built in a reserve. We left the M6 at Penrith, and headed down the A66. Back on the single lane section, it was much harder to keep the speed below 50. With the car set up to coast when my foot was off the accelerator, it would roll very easily over the speed limit on the down hill sections. Much attention needed.

14:30 11% 257 miles
We finally pulled into Borrowdale at about 2:30pm, having covered over 90 miles on the last leg, with 11% remaining. I paid for the pitch and paid for one nights EV charging from the post (8). The wardens confirmed that we were the first full EV towing to use the site that they were aware of. We got set up and plugged the car in, with the car constrained to 8A to leave some headroom for the van appliances. By next morning we were back up to 55% and ready to head out.

Return Journey.

30/10/2021
8:40am 100% 7c Very wet 0miles
Again - we charged the car overnight on the Club site from the van, and preconditioned. The weather was poor, and had been for the last few days with the lakes making the national news due to rainfall. The lakes were high, rivers had burst, and the car had coped well.

We towed off the site, through Grange and gingerly headed back up toward Keswick, knowing there was at least one flooded section to drive through. Needn't have worried as the Polestar never missed a beat.
Heading up the A66 was miserable it was cold and wet and uphill all the way to Penrith. The target economy of 67 kWk/100m was nowhere to be seen with more like 85 showing. I told myself "its all up hill here, and Shap is downhill" and kept going. We joined the M6, and it was empty. Usually great for a holiday, but not if you want to follow a lorry. After a few mins we spotted on in the distance ahead and I eased the car up to 60 to catch it. We ducked into its stream and followed it to Preston. I shouldn't have worried as I was right; as soon as we were on the motorway, heading down hill and with a windbreaker lorry, the economy climbed and we were back below the target 67 by Kendal. Whilst we could have gone further on the battery charge remaining, we opted for the same stop as we had on the way up, as the driver and one passenger really needed to. Making the diversion into Preston East, we popped into exactly the same spot and charger as on the way up.

10:40am 17% 93 Miles
The sun came out, as we parked the caravan, this time with 4 of us. Coffee and hot chocolate, and a rapid charge. Target was 85%, but we hit 87% in 48 mins, loading in 60kWh. This time we had a two stop strategy in mind and I was aiming for Hilton Park services north of Birmingham.

11:30 87%
Back on the road, and the weather continued to improve. Following lorries all the way down, we got to Hilton Park services with no issues.

1:24pm 18% 187 miles
At Hilton park, the Caravan bays are separated from the main carpark by a low wall. We pulled into the caravan area and un-hitched. I then drove round to the charger and got started.
We manually turned the van round through 180, got a steady down and set up for loo stops and lunch. For whatever reason the new gridserve charger was on a go slow, delivering 51kWh in an hour. It didn't really matter as we ate lunch in the caravan, and had a coffee after. Our target was 80% and we left with 83% for the final leg home.

2:50pm 21% 260 miles
A stilly mistake as we came to the end of the M6, I got in the wrong lane, and ended up on the A14 east instead of the M1 south. Having chastised myself, we got of at the 1st junction and decided to head direct south through Northampton to home. A slightly longer route over all, but not as long as going back to the M1. We got home around 15 mins later than we would have hoped.

To fill the battery at home costs about 4. The two charges on the way to the lakes were 10.42 and 24.55 respectively. So to travel 257 miles from home to the Lakes cost me about 40, arriving with 20 odd miles of range left for solo travel. It used to cost me 1 tank of diesel in my XC90 or V60 for the same tow (I used to top up at Rheged before heading to Keswick) and that would be 70 back when diesel was 1.20 a litre.
The return trip was 8 + 23.39 + 15.36 = 46.75 and I had about 40 miles solo at the end.

Works out at less than ~17p per mile towing vs about 27p per mile using diesel

Take aways.
Average consumption
Outbound 57kWh/100miles;
Return leg - 60.6kWh/100m
(usually 34-36kWh/100m Solo)

1) The weather on the way back made a huge difference - wet more than cold impacts the economy.
2) We charged too much for the last section, I built in a good 15% more than I needed to, which was perhaps 15-17 mins of charging.
3) Planning really helps - knowing where you can stop, but not necessarily where you WILL stop. Gives you options.
4) Motorway services are not bad - just make up your own rules as to where you will park, and ask forgiveness rather than permission (not that I needed to).
5) Non-motorway services work really well too.
6) Longer distance caravanning works great in an EV if you are prepared to stop (like me). For those who want to do a 6 hour 300 mile tow in one go, not so much.
7) Would I trade in the extra range for going back to an ICE tow car? Emphatic no for me. The Kia EV6 would be on my list of tow cars though for the ultra rapid (18min 10-80%) charge speed.

Message posted by tonyv8power via mobile 09/12/2021 at 10:01am
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A very informative report indeed, thanks for taking the trouble. It's timely for me, what to replace our Discovery with. Thanks again.

Message posted by marg609/12/2021 at 12:26pm
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as your car is only rated for upto 1500kgs towing how have you managed to get around that and also increase your payload limits?

Message posted by martin73409/12/2021 at 12:27pm
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Did it really take over 7 hours to drive 250 odd miles?
There are a few of questions I have if that's ok. You say you were slipstreaming lorries, but in wet conditions the minimum safe following distance for wet conditions is 4 seconds, how much slipstreaming effect did you actually get at that distance, does it really make much difference? Do traffic conditions make much difference to the range of an EV? How common are the ultra fast chargers and how long would it take to charge on a standard EV charge point?

Message posted by blueexpo9709/12/2021 at 12:41pm
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"Did it really take over 7 hours to drive 250 odd miles"?

Not if you take out approx 2 hours of charging, if I read it right.

A very detailed and informative post tdrees.

Thanks for posting.

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Message posted by tdrees09/12/2021 at 12:51pm
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Quote: Originally posted by martin734 on 09/12/2021
Did it really take over 7 hours to drive 250 odd miles?



Yes - It used to take about 6:15 when towing with diesel for me. I would have taken two stops on that trip before, all be it in different places.

Quote:
There are a few of questions I have if that's ok. You say you were slipstreaming lorries, but in wet conditions the minimum safe following distance for wet conditions is 4 seconds, how much slipstreaming effect did you actually get at that distance, does it really make much difference?



The closer you get, the more difference it makes, but yes, even at 50 to 70 meters, it makes a significant difference. F1 drivers get a tow at 100m. Lorries make a considerably bigger hole in the air which lasts much longer, and a caravan takes more advantage of it. You absolutely don't have to be driving on the vehicle in fronts bumper to get an assist, and can still be safe.

Quote:
Do traffic conditions make much difference to the range of an EV?



Both road and traffic conditions make a difference. Heavy (slow) traffic will extend you range. The biggest impact on economy is aero drag, which increases with the square of your speed. Rain (or more specifically a wet road surface) also increases drag.
Almost all of the range impact from towing a caravan comes from the aero drag, and not from the extra weight.

Quote: How common are the ultra fast chargers and how long would it take to charge on a standard EV charge point?



Thats a tough question to answer without saying have a look at zap-map.com. For me, an ultra fast charger is anything that is over 150kw, as that will max my charging rate, but rapid chargers vary from 50kw to 350kw. Almost all the MSAs (motorway service areas) are being upgraded to 120kw chargers, but is a staged work in progress. Lots of supermarkets (notably Morisons, Tesco and Lidl) have 50kW chargers. Booths have 50kW or 90kW.

Lots of fast food franchisees (MacD, KFC) have 50kW, 90kW or 120kW.

On a 50kW charger, my car will do 10% to 80% in about an hour. On a 150kW charger, its about 30 mins.





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Quote: Originally posted by tdrees on 09/12/2021
Quote: Originally posted by martin734 on 09/12/2021
Did it really take over 7 hours to drive 250 odd miles?



Yes - It used to take about 6:15 when towing with diesel for me. I would have taken two stops on that trip before, all be it in different places.

Quote:
There are a few of questions I have if that's ok. You say you were slipstreaming lorries, but in wet conditions the minimum safe following distance for wet conditions is 4 seconds, how much slipstreaming effect did you actually get at that distance, does it really make much difference?



The closer you get, the more difference it makes, but yes, even at 50 to 70 meters, it makes a significant difference. F1 drivers get a tow at 100m. Lorries make a considerably bigger hole in the air which lasts much longer, and a caravan takes more advantage of it. You absolutely don't have to be driving on the vehicle in fronts bumper to get an assist, and can still be safe.

Quote:
Do traffic conditions make much difference to the range of an EV?



Both road and traffic conditions make a difference. Heavy (slow) traffic will extend you range. The biggest impact on economy is aero drag, which increases with the square of your speed. Rain (or more specifically a wet road surface) also increases drag.
Almost all of the range impact from towing a caravan comes from the aero drag, and not from the extra weight.

Quote: How common are the ultra fast chargers and how long would it take to charge on a standard EV charge point?



Thats a tough question to answer without saying have a look at zap-map.com. For me, an ultra fast charger is anything that is over 150kw, as that will max my charging rate, but rapid chargers vary from 50kw to 350kw. Almost all the MSAs (motorway service areas) are being upgraded to 120kw chargers, but is a staged work in progress. Lots of supermarkets (notably Morisons, Tesco and Lidl) have 50kW chargers. Booths have 50kW or 90kW.

Lots of fast food franchisees (MacD, KFC) have 50kW, 90kW or 120kW.

On a 50kW charger, my car will do 10% to 80% in about an hour. On a 150kW charger, its about 30 mins.







Thank you very much for that, that is interesting. I suppose a lot of how useful an EV is depends on what type of driving you prefer. I would probably not stop at all on a drive of less than 350 miles and a minimum of a 30 minute stop every three hours would be a major pain in the backside for me, I don't even stop that often or that long on my motorbike.
I really do like the idea of an electric vehicle but they just are not a practical vehicle for me yet. I would love a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as they have all of the advantages of battery vehicle but none of the drawbacks, but the infrastructure for them is nowhere near ready yet.

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Quote: Originally posted by blueexpo97 on 09/12/2021
"Did it really take over 7 hours to drive 250 odd miles"?

Not if you take out approx 2 hours of charging, if I read it right.

A very detailed and informative post tdrees.

Thanks for posting.


It is that 2 hours of charging that is the big problem though. Even my V8 LPG/petrol Land Rover can go further than that without having to stop at all, and it only takes 5-10 minutes to refuel with enough gas to do 300 miles, or 600 miles if I use both gas and petrol. Though I will admit that to fill both petrol and gas tanks completely will cost about 200 at the minute, that is more than 50 more than it cost this time last year. Thankfully, 300 miles on LPG only costs around 50-60 depending on where I refuel.

Message posted by tdrees09/12/2021 at 2:12pm
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Quote: Originally posted by martin734 on 09/12/2021
Thank you very much for that, that is interesting. I suppose a lot of how useful an EV is depends on what type of driving you prefer. I would probably not stop at all on a drive of less than 350 miles and a minimum of a 30 minute stop every three hours would be a major pain in the backside for me, I don't even stop that often or that long on my motorbike.
I really do like the idea of an electric vehicle but they just are not a practical vehicle for me yet. I would love a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as they have all of the advantages of battery vehicle but none of the drawbacks, but the infrastructure for them is nowhere near ready yet.



350 miles solo would be between 6 and 7 hours driving for me. No way I could manage that long in the car without a stop.

I just came back from north Wales on Monday morning. We left Bala at about 9am, stopped at a farm shop about 10 mins up the road for some lunch to take with us. Then headed for home. It's 153 miles, and by the time we got to Corley services on the M6, I had to stop for me. I could have charged the car there - there were two free spaces on the Instavolt rapid charging location, but didn't need to. It was a freezing cold day with horrible rain for about 1/2 the journey, but traffic flowed freely on the motorway. We were home before noon with two 20 mins stops (didnt charge at either), and with about 35 miles of range left.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a bit interesting except for three key areas. 1) as you point out the infrastructure. 11 hydrogen locations in the whole of the UK (used to be 12, the Coventry one seems to have closed) is not going to cut it. 2) Cost of hydrogen will be about 4 times the cost of electricity and less efficient. 3) cost of a fuel cell vehicle. No doubt they would come down in mass production, but FCs are not cheap to produce.

Message posted by martin73409/12/2021 at 2:36pm
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That is true what you say about hydrogen fuel vehicles being more expensive to run and produce at the moment, but again that is something that will likely change over time. Electricity prices have increased massively this year and may continue to do, albeit at a much slower rate, for quite some time yet so it may come to a point where hydrogen and battery vehicles are not too far apart in terms of running costs, same with the production cost of the vehicles. An FCV costs about the same now as a BEV did when they were introduced, when inflation is taken into account. The biggest problem with hydrogen is the fact that there are so few fuelling stations but many commercial vehicle maufacturers are moving towards hydrogen technology rather than batteries and this will hopefully lead to better infrastructure.
If there was a hydrogen vehicle on the market with more convenient refuelling that could do everything I wanted it to do, I would have one immediately. I don't care that they are more expensive to run than a BEV or are less energy efficient, that is totally irrelevant. For me all that matters is that it does what I need a vehicle to do. Which is why I doubt I will be getting rid of my Land Rover until after I stop driving.

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Message posted by tdrees09/12/2021 at 2:53pm
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Quote: Originally posted by martin734 on 09/12/2021
Electricity prices have increased massively this year and may continue to do, albeit at a much slower rate, for quite some time yet so it may come to a point where hydrogen and battery vehicles are not too far apart in terms of running costs, same with the production cost of the vehicles.



Green Hydrogen is produced from electricity, so its cost is directly related to that of electricity. It will never be cheaper than electricity simply because it needs more electricity to produce than then energy you get into the tank.


Message posted by dk16809/12/2021 at 10:58pm
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Thanks for the comprehensive write up/feedback, very interesting read.

DK

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Thanks for the post, very informative.

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Message posted by daveyjp10/12/2021 at 1:14pm
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Useful report. I don't however understand the 50 limit comment.

Doesn't such an advanced car have cruise control which maintains speed both up and down hills?

Message posted by tdrees10/12/2021 at 2:39pm
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Quote: Originally posted by daveyjp on 10/12/2021
Useful report. I don't however understand the 50 limit comment.

Doesn't such an advanced car have cruise control which maintains speed both up and down hills?



Yes it does, but it you have towed on the A66, my guess is you would have it turned off (I do). There are sharp bends on that road round which 50mph seems like light speed when towing.

Message posted by iank0111/12/2021 at 9:12am
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Quote: Originally posted by tdrees on 09/12/2021
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a bit interesting except for three key areas. 1) as you point out the infrastructure. 11 hydrogen locations in the whole of the UK (used to be 12, the Coventry one seems to have closed) is not going to cut it. 2) Cost of hydrogen will be about 4 times the cost of electricity and less efficient. 3) cost of a fuel cell vehicle. No doubt they would come down in mass production, but FCs are not cheap to produce.



However I would think it is possible ton vert current ICE vehicles to hydrogen as opposed to paying a lot of money for an EV just to be green and get stressed out about recharging especially if your area is hit by a huge storm!


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