Tesla Model X And 24 Foot Bowlus Road Chief Towing Test: 60 MPH in 5.5 Seconds, 175 Miles Range

1 year ago by Jay Cole 30


After delivering 2,400 all-electric Model Xs over the past three months, and 2,614 in total since the launch last September, performance reviews on the Tesla SUV are becoming more and more common.

Tesla Model X And A Bowlus Road Chief - Ready For Long Range Trips...and racing Mustangs

Tesla Model X And A Bowlus Road Chief – Ready For Long Range Trips…and racing Mustangs

Reviews on the Tesla Model X pulling a 24′ trailer?  Not so much.

In this case, a Model X P90DL (vin #006 specifically) gets hitched up to a Bowlus Road Chief, a pretty swell rig that is 24 feet long, is very aerodynamic, and weighs just 2,300lbs.

The results:

  • 0-60 MPH in 5.5 seconds
  • Range (at speed): 175 miles (or “70% of the 250 miles EPA rated distance for the P90D)
  • Retro coolness: off the chart

On the Road Chief itself:

“The 8,000-BTU air-conditioning unit, propane fuel tank, absorbent glass-mat batteries and various antennae are packed within the metal envelope. Bikes, kayaks and other long items can be transported inside the trailer using integrated cargo racks to suspend them in the aisle.” – states a recent WSJ review on the Bowlus

Find out more on the Bowlus Road Chief for your new Tesla Model X here.

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30 responses to "Tesla Model X And 24 Foot Bowlus Road Chief Towing Test: 60 MPH in 5.5 Seconds, 175 Miles Range"

  1. philip d says:

    “The 8,000-BTU air-conditioning unit, propane fuel tank, absorbent glass-mat batteries and various antennae are packed within the metal envelope.”

    State of the art EV with 90 kWh of Li-Ion batteries pulls a trailer with lead-acid glass-mat batteries. That just seems wrong.

    Maybe Bowlus should work with Telsa to design a Powerwall tailored for RVs.

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

      Hows about Model X Owner towing a 4,800 Lb boat on the expressway?

      (Posted here back in January) This Is Great!

      Link Goes To YouTube-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3QbKexTSok

      Best-

      Thomas J. Thias

      Sundance Chevrolet

      517-749-0532

      Publisher:

      https://twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

  2. bro1999 says:

    Curious the % of MPG hit a F-150 or similar pickup truck would take towing that thing.

    Plus…how the heck do you Supercharge with that hooked up?!

    1. ffbj says:

      I think you would have to drop the trailer first, unless you have the space to pull in horizontally.

    2. mike says:

      Dunno about supercharging, but you will definitely be able to charge at the RV site on the regular 50amp outlet 🙂

  3. ffbj says:

    Cool.

  4. SparkEV says:

    I might be the rare nut who gets excited to see EV towing stuff. Is it for being Southern CA hick, I don’t know. Rather than racing a 737 as in recent article, towing a 737 might’ve been more exciting. I can’t wait to get an affordable EV with tow hitch! Thank you Tesla!

    1. System F says:

      I thought for sure your post would be about the Spark EV’s ability to tow the Model X and that trailer 😉

      All kidding aside, it’s nice to see you appreciate other vehicles.

      I also like seeing EVs tow (some interesting stuff out there), and look forward to my first e-Truck Nutz (set of AA batteries hanging of the hitch?).

      1. SparkEV says:

        If SparkEV can tow, I’d be all over it, may not even need Model 3 (do you believe that? I don’t!)

        SparkEV GVWR minus empty weight gives about 900 lb. It could probably tow 700 lb of plywood and bricks (driver=200lb), at least at 55 MPH, but it’s not rated to tow anything like all the other EV except Model X and soon Model 3.

        Interestingly, even gas cars are moving away from towing. Elantra was capable of 1500 lb (3500 lb with trailer brake), but new ones are not rated to tow anything. As such, EV (Model 3) makes far more sense than gas cars.

        1. sven says:

          I wonder if the lack of towing in new cars is because of the new CV transmissions many new ICE cars now come with.

          1. Yup says:

            No, it’s all about marketing. The same cars that are sold in America with little or no tow rating are sold in Europe and Australia with respectable tow ratings. They lower or eliminate the row ratings here to push people into more profitable SUVs. It’s the same reason that sedans all used to have 6 seats, then all went to 5, and are now trending toward 4.

        2. The 2012-2014 Toyota RAV4 EV doesn’t have any problem towing.

          You can buy a receiver for about $150.

          4 bolts and maybe 15 minutes, and it’s hooks up.

          If you want or need trailer lights, obviously that will take a bit more time, and thankfully there are kits to make it easy.

          I do NOT recommend towing even a light trailer without trailer brakes. EVs really solely on the disc brakes to stop the car when the battery is full or cold. That could smoke your vehicle brakes.

          I would limit the overall load to under 1500 pounds, even with trailer brakes.

  5. 2013VOLT says:

    Range still isn’t good enough for this purpose. My F150 towing a 5,000 pound brick of an RV trailer will easily go 330 miles on a tank of fuel. And we regularly take that trailer on road trips of 3-500 miles so the range is very important. Once an EV can deliver that capability I will gladly trade my truck for it. Although, my Volt is my primary car and the F150 is only used when I need a truck.

    1. Someone out there says:

      Exactly. Range isn’t just what you get in optimal conditions, what you get under “terrible” conditions is more important. What do you get when the car is 8 years old, towing max weight in pouring rain? A lot less but the car should handle that too.

    2. DS says:

      What you are looking for then if you are in the market is two Model X. The first will take you 150 miles @50mph. The second will ride ahead to the next SC, 150 miles in the distance, driving 65mph. After 150 miles you will meet X#2 at the SC. They will be rested 1 hour and ready to swap a charged X while you grab a chair and a coffee. They zoom off with your 5000lbs boat to the next SC. So on and so forth ad infinitum.

  6. Tilehead says:

    My Explorer pulling a 27′ Trailmanor (5′ tall when closed, 2750 lbs (1250Kg)) dropped the mileage from 17 to 14.5mpg. (a 15% loss)

    I think a 30% loss is rather high for an aerodynamic trailer.

    1. Scott B. says:

      This just highlights the existing inefficiencies of ICE vehicles. As the propulsion system gets more efficient, other external factors become much more significant. That’s why it’s very important to keep your tires inflated in an EV and why wind, rain, etc. become important considerations on vehicle range.

    2. Malevolence says:

      You have to remember that your Explorer’s engine and drive-train are way oversized for just maintaining speed down a freeway without going up a steep hill or towing a trailer. So when it’s towing something, the engine is likely running closer to its peak efficiency. The result is that your hit on mileage in percentage terms is less than the actual additional energy that makes it’s way to the tires. For an electric, on the other hand, the efficiency curve is very flat above low speeds (<10mph, generally) or very high loads (i.e. flooring it), so the motor is running at close to optimum efficiency while cruising with or without the extra load from the trailer. 30% seems quite reasonable considering how much extra frontal area and tire drag that trailer adds.

      Your math might look like this: if we assume your Explorer is 22.5% efficient to turn 6 gallons of fuel into 100 miles (approx. 17 mpg), it would be the same as turning 1.35 gallons into 100 miles at 100% efficiency and wasting the other 4.65 gallons as heat. But if at the same time your Explorer needs 7 gallons to go that same 100 miles while towing a trailer (approx. 14.5 mpg), but can do it at 25% efficiency since your engine is running closer to it's optimal efficiency point, your turning 1.75 gallons into motive force and wasting 5.25 gallons as heat. Take 1.75 gallons/1.35 gallons and you get a ratio of 1.30:1, or 30% more motive force for the cost of only 17% more fuel (7 gallons/6 gallons = 1.17). Those are all pretty realistic numbers and that's pretty close to the numbers in this article and your statements. So if the Tesla is no more efficient at getting electrons to the pavement with or without a trailer, but your Explorer is just 2.5% more efficient at getting gasoline to the pavement, you'll see the gap in efficiency you're talking about. There are, of course, other factors at play, but that is the big one.

    3. Gary Graunke says:

      Very interesting–I’m getting 90D model X 4343 this month or early May, and have ordered a Trail Manor 2720QB. The trail manor certainly has less frontal area and may draft the X well, but it would help if it were better shaped (lower coefficient of drag). Of course, it gets bigger when not towing, so I’m looking forward to seeing the WH/mi when towing. (Are you on the west coast by any chance? I’d like to try towing a trailmanor as soon as I get my X).

  7. Bradley Goldman says:

    How many people were in the X?
    Was the AC on?

  8. Bradley Goldman says:

    I would just like to know what the range of the X is with 6 people in it and the front and rear AC going at 75 mph. Ya know, a family trip in the summer. Does anyone have the range #’s in that situation.

    1. bro1999 says:

      All that, and going up Mammoth Mountain! Range would probably drop faster than a North Korean going after food scraps thrown to the ground.

    2. SparkEV says:

      You can calculate your range loss on hills. Because the hill could take significant portion of power compared to aero, calculation could be pretty close to actual. I’ve done such “study” using SparkEV in my blog post. If the link doesn’t show, search for “range polynomial climbing hill”. EV is lot easier to estimate as the efficiency tend to stay roughly the same in usable power levels.

      http://sparkev.blogspot.com/2016/03/range-polynomial-climbing-hill.html

      Previous blog post, I “studied” range loss based on additional power use. When you’re blasting AC/heat, it’s better to speed up a bit than going slow. That was called “range polynomial”. I think I might have to do another than combines AC/heat + climbing with more stuff.

      1. TomArt says:

        Clever – I was wondering if there was a point at which going faster was better when you have fixed, continuous loads (A/C or heat).

  9. Jeffrey Songster says:

    What a gorgeous trailer… and lightweight. Cost seems about 125k… love the style. Wish they would do the joint venture with tesla to bundle battery that could extend the range of the car and make trailer fully self sufficient. How about a trailer motor that can push it along at 70mph and provide regen trailer braking? Worthy idea or not?

    1. TomArt says:

      Having a built-in PowerPack that the car can feed from would be pretty cool, though you would need to SC both on that long camping trip.

  10. Alaa says:

    Add an extra battery pack in the trailer and that will extend the rang.

  11. Model Tres says:

    I will never tow a trailer or tow anything nor do I have any desire to

    1. All-Purpose Guru says:

      Thanks so much for your valuable contribution.

  12. Mark says:

    I like how the article points out the benefits of the trailer that make it have less impact on the vehicle (aero, low weight). The only serious impact is that the trailer is big. It’s not heavy or driving a significant aero load on the vehicle, it’s just big, like a 20 lb elephant.

    My little sedan can tow several elephants on a big trailer, as long as they all weigh 20 lbs.

    I keep hoping the greater EV community will get better at science, and what specs actually mean, but I’m perpetually surprise by how they don’t.

    The other caveat to Tesla’s towing claims is understanding what these ratings are spec’d using. The SAE specs and the manufacturers specs are not identical. GM, Ram, Ford, Toyota, and Tesla are not all using the same specs to generate a rating. Some may be equivalent, but based on the rate that previous tesla’so have overheated, I’m skeptical of what was used to define the X’s trailer rating.