After pertinent criticism, we reviewed the reasons and the answer is still yes.
Our article about rescuing and towing EVs raised eyebrows in many readers. Some of them made really pertinent points. If we were to sum them into only one, it would be this: why discuss towing and rescuing EVs restrictions if combustion-engined cars also have them? We wanted to make sure we did not get our talk with AA and AAA in the wrong way and got back to bother them. The bottom line is that the discussion we proposed with the first article is still valid.
As we mentioned before, the lack of a proper neutral mode on EVs – one that disengages the wheels from the motors – makes them harder to tow and especially to flat tow in any emergency.
Some readers thought we were talking about a neutral mode that could be selected and that was not the case. We seize the opportunity to apologize for not being clearer about that.
Greg Carter, the technical specialist at AA, addressed that in more detail.
“While EVs will have a neutral position, it generally just stops power going to the motor. It doesn’t physically disconnect it. Therefore, the motor continues to turn with the wheels. You can see this in technical repair information where the motor output goes directly into the differential.”
Towing with the drive wheels on the ground would be a problem not only to EVs, but also to some vehicles with automatic gearboxes. The AAA does not recommend cars to ever be towed in such conditions, but the AA reinforces flat towing is sometimes the quickest way to get a vehicle out of trouble.
“With regards to automatic transmissions, we have an extensive recovery database which tells us which vehicles can be flat towed. Some can’t but a great many can be towed at up to 30 mph without risk of damage. Again, this is all based on what the manufacturers tell us. It’s a similar story with a lot of AWD and 4WD vehicles.”
The difference is that rescue services know why it is not recommended to flat tow these ICE vehicles, something that is not so clear with EVs.
“Many conbustion-engined cars have restrictions – 30 mph for maximum 30 miles, some have lower speed/distance guidelines – but, for some reason, manufacturers of EVs seem to have more stringent ones. However, they have not been forthcoming as to the reasons why. It may be that unregulated voltage can be created which could damage sensitive electronics that remain connected.”
With all that said, we still defend EVs to have a standard for fast rescuing and towing procedures, as well as more transparency about the reasons for them. Why mention that about EVs and not about regular cars? Because electric cars are still new for most customers, who may prefer to stick with what they already know should they believe EVs present any disadvantage.
Gallery: Lack Of Standard Makes EVs Towing Difficulty Depend On Manufacturer
As NAF and Carter already stated, EVs are very reliable. They do not usually stop all of a sudden in the middle of the road. The problem is how to deal with them if they ever do. In such cases, flat towing may be the best solution available.
If it is not possible, EVs can go from being the solution to personal transportation to a hindrance to traffic flow in a snap. That is what we want to avoid by making EV manufacturers and clients aware of this concern. If we fix this before it even becomes an issue, electric cars and their fans will only benefit from that.