Tesla Model X Boat Towing Acceleration & Energy Usage / Range Test – Videos

2 years ago by Mark Kane 32

Tesla Model X and boat

Tesla Model X and boat

Max Kennedy’s Tesla Model X towing boat is having a busy January.

One of the latest test concerns acceleration with some 4,850 lbs / 2,200 kg boat (but not in Ludicrous mode, as that would be too Insane).

Just 6-7 seconds for acceleration from 55 mph to 80 mph (88 km/h to 129 km/h) with 400 kW.

According to the driver, that Model X accelerates like the boat is not even there.

There seems to be no trailer image in the instrument cluster; maybe something for an update in the future?  Update/Editor’s Note: Correction, Tesla does have a towing icon on the dash – thanks to Scottf for the image.

Tesla Model X Trailer Icon (thanks to ScottF!)

Tesla Model X Trailer Icon (thanks to ScottF!)

Tesla Model X Trailer Icon (thanks to ScottF!)

Tesla Model X Trailer Icon (thanks to ScottF!)

The second video (below) is the all-important range drop on the Model X with the boat in Trailer Mode.

The energy usage on the highway at 55-60 mph seems to changing from over 550 Wh/mile to over 900 Wh/mile depending on road conditions (flat / hill) and the time frame of average energy consumption.

We believe that the average for the journey while towing should be well below 600 Wh/mile if driven conservatively, and range then could be over 150 miles (it seems it would even be possible to get up to a max of 200 miles) on the 90,000 Wh (90 kWh) pack.

The EPA rates the 90 kWh versions of the Model X as seen below:

EPA Rating For Tesla Model X – From Left To Right – City, Highway, Combined

EPA Rating For Tesla Model X – From Left To Right – City, Highway, Combined

Tags: , , , , ,

32 responses to "Tesla Model X Boat Towing Acceleration & Energy Usage / Range Test – Videos"

  1. MikeG says:

    Energy usage is higher than a Tesla Model S in the cold driving up a mountain highway.

    Good thing this is flat Florida on a hot day!

  2. Ambulator says:

    It looks to me like you should get about half the range towing something that large. I wonder if you would have to unhitch the boat to charge at most Superchargers.

  3. Brian says:

    So around 1/3 standard range to tow something at 4800ish pounds. If you want to cross country trip with a heavy camper this might not be the SUV you want.

  4. bibou64 says:

    Well, i think that the test to do is not acceleration ont the highway, when you are towing a boat, acceleration is not the problem.

    Throwing away the boat from the lake on a ramp at 15 or 20% with 2,5 tons is the TEST to do : Does the Tesla is able to do that ? This is the real test to do.

    1. BraveLilToaster says:

      I don’t even see how that would be a problem. Are you concerned about how its electric motors would be able to produce torque at the low end?

      The Model X is literally the king of low end torque. The only other vehicle out there that could top it would be a train, and there’s a reason they use a diesel-electric powertrain.

  5. Murrysville EV says:

    I interpret this to mean that range while towing the maximum load is about 1/2 that of normal driving. Lesser loads would have less effect.

    This makes sense; while towing a U-Haul behind my minivan, its highway mileage dropped to about 12 mpg, rather than the 23 mpg it can normally get with the same internal load. In my case, I was towing about half of what the car was rated for, but it had a full complement of passengers and stuff.

    I think only a diesel wouldn’t be as affected by a towing load.

    Science is vindicated.

  6. Phr3d says:

    I realize that the test is far from in-depth, but to go from 55mph=650Wh to 60mph=950wH makes me thing of the gas-crisis 70’s when the 55mph national speed limit was enacted.

    With a boat, you Definitely don’t need to get there 5mph sooner, lol.

  7. sveno says:

    And what is that blue icon next to the cruise control icon, Mark?

    1. scottf200 says:

      Re: there is no trailer image in the instrument cluster —
      Blue icon is a trailer for Trailer Mode.
      Icon:

      Desc: http://i.imgur.com/p3rWtEy.jpg

  8. Jeff Songster says:

    This really points out the need for an aerodynamic, and lightweight trailer. I would imagine a midsize Airstream would do alot better. Also would be a good idea for Tesla to govern speed in trailer mode just so folks with very heavy ones don’t have the tail wagging the dog during heavy braking. Another Idea would be to offer an additional battery that could be carried on the trailer to help with range and connect at the hitch for charging purposes.

    1. BraveLilToaster says:

      Never going to happen. The whole point is to pull something that’s heavy and un-aerodynamic.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yeah. At highway speed, on relatively level terrain, wind resistance is almost certainly even more important than weight, for how much it’s gonna reduce your EV’s range. For mountain-climbing, weight may well count more than wind resistance.

      Instead of a “midsized Airstream” camper, I’d recommend one of those low-profile pop-up campers, if you really want to reduce the impact on range.

      And as has already been pointed out in at least one comment, a lower speed while towing something large will also have a great impact on range.

      P.S. — My math indicates a 39% range reduction while towing this trailer “at 55-60 mph”, not 1/3 or 1/2.

      1. Murrysville EV says:

        Not sure I can agree on the aerodynamics comment (although I normally agree with your sentiments here). Improved aerodynamics are often cited as the key to better highway fuel economy, but weight is still more important in my opinion (see my comment above about towing).

        Weight drives up tire and bearing friction, even on level surfaces, as well as internal drivetrain frictional losses. It’s interesting that placing a towed load in the slipstream of the towing vehicle can reduce its range so dramatically.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Well, you could be right; I’m no expert on this subject, by any means. But here’s my understanding, so do point out any misconception I may have:

          The amount of energy required to push a vehicle down the highway goes up as the cube of the speed! They say that at 55 MPH, the average car spends half its energy just fighting wind resistance. Obviously that percentage goes up a lot at even higher speeds. By comparison, rolling resistance on level ground is (as I recall) only about 7-8% of energy usage at highway speed. Doubling that still won’t make it that significant a drain on range.

          So that’s why I think that wind resistance counts more than weight, when towing on the highway — that is, mostly at a relatively high but constant speed — over relatively flat terrain.

          Now, if you get into stop-and-go traffic, or hilly terrain, or driving up a mountain, then of course the weight is gonna make a lot more difference in how much energy is used in towing a load.

        2. Hipu says:

          Wind resistance is the biggest problem unfortunately. It is easy to see that if that same trailer is towed at 20mph consumption would drastically reduce. Or just tow sand or rocks. Wind is the biggest problem at 55mph! Bearings and tires are designed for that load (I hope they were, because maybe tires were underinflated, like trailers usually do, and bearings not lubricated, brake system rusty, etc).

    3. sven says:

      Even better for aerodynamics and minimizing electricity consumed, he could rent a dock and keep the boat in the water instead of constantly towing it back and forth to his home. He’s in Florida, where you can keep the boat in the water 12 months out of the year.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        Well . . . he’d save tens of dollars of electricity by paying thousands in slip rental fees.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Yeah. And I dunno if fiberglass hulls are as prone as wooden ones to having barnacles, kelp, and other stuff attached to it, stuff that requires a lot of work in a drydock to clean off, but surely having your boat in the water year-round isn’t desirable if it’s not necessary.

      2. ggpa says:

        Leaving a boat in full time creates other issues like barnacles

    4. Murrysville EV says:

      I’d argue that towing a boat is about as aerodynamic as you can get. Boats are shaped for easy passage through the water. The cover on the boat also helps.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Certainly more aerodynamic than a camper. But you can’t get away from the energy-sucking impact of pushing that boat’s large frontal area thru the air, no matter how aerodynamic it is. A small or mid-sized pop-up camper would cause less drag, even if it’s not as aerodynamic, because of significantly less frontal area.

      2. This Boat – is point at the front, but Fat and Square at the back – Not Exactly Hydrodynamic, OR Aerodynamic!!! It, just like most people who put a car topper boat up on the roof of their car, is actually being towed (or the car topper boat – roof mounted) BACKWARDS, Aerodynamically!

        The Primary Reason Boats are towed pointy end forwards – is that is the way the boat comes towards the Trailer when it is being loaded back up onto the Trailer from the Water at the Boat Ramp! The Designed Towing Orientation has NOTHING to do with Aero or Hydro dynamics; only simplicity of release, and launch, as well as recover!

        And A Boat that looks like this one will have large wakes, due to it’s lack of ability to cleanly cut through the water, without disturbing it much! the bigger the wake left – at any speed, the more energy lost as wasted energy from propulsion, and hence – more towing drag in this orientation, as well!

        Wings – are more efficient, when they taper to thin at the back, and have the big, fat parts at the front (rounded though!) Look How Fat the Wing Rood is at the Leading Edge of the Airbus A-380, compared to it’s Trailing Edge, and compare that to a DC-3 Wing Root similarly! Fat at the Front – Thin At the Back! It’s the way of the Teardrop!

        Some Reality Pints – this boat approximates a re-shaped Prism – like the one in this image on drag:

        – which shows a Prism as a Cd of 1.14!

        (Tesla’s Model S Cd is about 0.24 in comparison, so – this boat, be it 4850 lbs or 485 lbs – aerodynamically – has a Drag load equal to almost 5X of a Model S!, So – I wonder what the Model X Energy consumption would be of towing a Tesla Model S in Comparison – or Even – towing a Model X?)

        More References here: http://www.ceepo.com/images/tech_airfoil.gif – and here: http://forums.pelicanparts.com/uploads8/Katz1154386048.jpg

        Notice – the Small Circle (A Pipe, or a Rope – in the wind) has the same amount of drag of a much larger, but properly Aerodynamically shaped Fairing, cover, or container!

        See all about Efficiency in action and shapes at Craig Vetter’s Website – ant this page in particular: http://www.craigvetter.com/pages/470MPG/high%20mileage%20fairing.html

        Take a Semi Tuck Rig, and Clean it up – to deliver about 2X the Fuel economy compared to regular rigs – here: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/09/aerodynamic-trailer-design-doubles-fuel-economy/ – and here – http://www.airflowtruck.com/

        For Trailers themselves – they have a ways to go, with Regulations, technology, and permissions – to make them operationally Viable yet Aerodynamic, but some of the beginnings – might be found in STEMCO’s TrailerTail® for semi truck trailers, that increases fuel efficiency by 5.5% and improves stability and visibility, increasing both safety and peace of mind. http://www.stemco.com/product/trailertail/

        Even Transport Canada says this is better:
        https://www.tc.gc.ca/media/images/programs/aerodynamics_eng_fig23.jpg

        And for a New Twist on Vehicle to Vehicle Communication, ‘Stella’ spoke to a Tesla Models – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2767806/Meet-Stella-solar-powered-car-drives-500-miles-SINGLE-charge-warns-traffic-lights-change.html

        1. Jay says:

          Uh yes, that’s called a planing hull. Very inefficient at low speeds, but once it gets ‘up on plane’, it acts as if the hull is much longer and much more efficient (going much faster in a smaller vessel with a smaller engine). This is a similar principle to a Kammback on a car.

  9. Speculawyer says:

    Just be careful when you launch that boat that you don’t back too far into the water!

  10. Mike McG says:

    The solution is a transmission that’s geared properly.

    Think of a bicycle with gears. If you’re in a high gear you’re going to use a ton of energy to make it up a hill. That same hill is a breeze in a lower gear and your legs will thank you for it.

    The benefit of an EV is the smooth acceleration due to having one gear but it lacks efficiency. We could see HUGE gains in range with the addition of a transmission. We could then limit the capacity of current battery technology at 90-100kwh and see 500 miles of range on a single charge.

    1. The energy doesn’t change because it’s geared down. The electric motor can handle this just fine with one gear, as does a locomotive (train).

      Yes, there may be a perfectly optimum gearing, but I suspect it isn’t significantly different than what it already has.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Mike McG

      “The benefit of an EV is the smooth acceleration due to having one gear but it lacks efficiency.”

      Nope. Modern EVs, using a fixed gear ratio, are highly efficient over a wide range of running speeds; see graph linked below.

      You can thank Alan Cocconi for his invention of an integrated motor controller (including inverter) that makes an AC motor very efficient, and with good torque, over a wide range of RPMs. That’s why all or nearly all modern production EV passenger vehicles use AC motors, not DC motors.

      http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=96558&d=1443881538

    3. Other than not being able to find a Gear-box Maker that could build strong enough Two Speed Gear Sets for the Roadster, due to ‘Ludicrously Instant Max Torque’ of Electric Motors, The key to Long Range – is Less Weight (Better Vehicle Design and Build Materials, and More Energy Efficient Batteries), and Less Drag (They are targeting a Cd (Coefficient of Drag) of under 0.20 for the Model 3!

      Oh, but the way – the erodynamic and light weight ‘Stella’ has already got that 500 mile trip ‘in the bag!’ – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2767806/Meet-Stella-solar-powered-car-drives-500-miles-SINGLE-charge-warns-traffic-lights-change.html

    4. Mutwin Kraus says:

      In Formula E this season different gearboxes are allowed. Some teams have a single gear, some have two, and I think at least one has 5 gears. So far I have not noticed any difference in performance or efficiency. All cars have the same battery pack, so it would be easy to see. The individual driver actually has a higher impact on range and performance. Considering this, I think single gear is the way to go. If you have any data proving the opposite, please share it.

    5. windgrins says:

      @Mike with regards to your comment:

      Mike: “Think of a bicycle with gears. If you’re in a high gear you’re going to use a ton of energy to make it up a hill. That same hill is a breeze in a lower gear and your legs will thank you for it.”

      It’s going to be a lot easier (less force on the pedals but not less energy) This is because you are applying more force through far less revolutions of the pedals in high gear. What you are thinking of is that you can get away with less force and less power (energy/unit time) which is why in a lower gear, it’s easier but slower.

      Mike: “The benefit of an EV is the smooth acceleration due to having one gear but it lacks efficiency.”

      Not true. The energy requirements are just the same with one gear as much as 10. The torque requirement (force), like the bicycle are less but not the energy.

      Mike: “We could see HUGE gains in range with the addition of a transmission.”

      Sorry, not true, a transmission only helps with torque reduction needs. The energy requirements remain the same. The reason an ICE car has a transmission is to match the power curve maximum point (rpm speed) of the engine to the speed of the car at that moment. Electric motors don’t have this need as they produce much of their torque across the total operating range. Hence, no matching required by an expensive transmission.

      Mike: “We could then limit the capacity of current battery technology at 90-100kwh and see 500 miles of range on a single charge.”

      Sorry, Nope. Range is a function of energy amount stored in the battery and efficiency of conversion which is hardly affected by the speed of the motor (it is a bit though). A complex transmission would only produce more losses due to friction and actually reduce range.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Robert Weekley said:

    “This Boat – is point at the front, but Fat and Square at the back…”

    You appear to be arguing that the boat would present less air resistance if mounted backwards on the trailer. This is incorrect. Sure, a squared-off rear end does cause turbulence and does increase drag from wind resistance. But the increase isn’t nearly as much as a lack of streamlining on the frontal area would be.

    “…STEMCO’s TrailerTail® for semi truck trailers, that increases fuel efficiency by 5.5%…”

    Yeah, only 5.5% improvement… as opposed to a claimed 50% improvement for the Airflow truck you also linked to, with its highly streamlined semi tractor. As I said, the frontal streamlining is far more important, for reducing wind resistance, than the rear. That claim of a 50% improvement is probably an exaggeration, but it’s still going to be several times more effective at reducing drag than streamlining the rear of the trailer.

  12. Kracky says:

    “The energy usage on the highway at 55-60 mph seems to changing from over 550 Wh/mile to over 900 Wh/mile depending on road conditions (flat / hill) and the time frame of average energy consumption.

    We believe that the average for the journey while towing should be well below 600 Wh/mile if driven conservatively, and range then could be over 150 miles (it seems it would even be possible to get up to a max of 200 miles) on the 90,000 Wh (90 kWh) pack.”

    Actually I don’t believe the trailer was on for much of the time you used for your calculation.
    If you go to 6:00 min on the video
    using 653 wh/mi
    He has driven 5 miles on flat road with cruse set at 55.
    135 mi on the dashboard and 68 miles using 5 mi the average.
    68 x 2 = 136.
    Technically you can get 50% of the range.

    Most of the time it is worse. 34% to 37% the two times I checked. one was an instantaneous time at 2:30 the shorter was At 4:50
    Average range over 5 miles at 60mp includes “Some traffic lights and on ramps.”