We've seen and shared Dethleffs electric caravans in the past, but now it appears one of the German RV maker's campers has helped the Audi e-tron Sportback set a new world record for towing. While EVs are better than gas cars in nearly every way, towing is one of a few areas that need improvement.
Many electric vehicles still don't have enough range to satisfy all drivers, which means range anxiety still exists. This is especially true in areas where public charging infrastructure is limited. Add some relatively heavy towing to the mix and the anxiety could be amplified.
Back in 2018, Dethleffs revealed its E.Home Coco line of RVs that have batteries mounted beneath the floor. Since then, we've suggested that a company needs to make an RV that "helps" EVs with towing, either by having its own batteries and motor, or simply having batteries as a backup charging source for an electric car. There are many concepts out there, along with various ways to look at this, and now we have some proof that it works.
Interestingly, the company chose the Audi e-tron Sportback for the towing challenge, which is far from the most efficient EV on the market. Moreover, the e-tron has less range than most rivals, so towing a heavy load over a long distance with this particular electric SUV could prove problematic.
Nonetheless, the e-tron towed the Dethleffs camper 386 km (about 240 miles) on a single charge. Keep in mind, according to the EPA, the e-tron Sportback has a maximum estimated range of 218 miles.
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The goal here was to assure that an electric vehicle could tow a camper without losing any range. Not only did the electric towing rig succeed in its mission, but also the e-tron traveled well beyond its EPA-estimated range.
The Dethleffs E.Home Coco revealed in 2018 has two flat-mounted 40 kW lithium-ion batteries and a dual-motor axle. Some versions also had solar panels fitted to the roof. We don't know for sure how heavy the rig is, but it's estimated to be at least 1,000 kg (~2,220 pounds.).
The towing test took place on freeways, as well as over some rougher roads through the Alps. At the end of the journey, which was over six hours long, neither the e-tron Sportback nor the E.Home Coco's batteries were fully depleted. Caravan Camping Sales shared:
"All up, a total of 386km and up to 4870m in altitude were recorded without recharging. The average speed was 62.4km/h, with the e-tron Sportback consuming 62kWh of energy (i.e. 21.2kWh/100km), and the E.Home Coco consuming 74kWh (19.2 kWh/100km)."
The E.Home Caravan isn't yet ready for series production, but it has already proven that its technology works as intended. Is this the future of electric towing? Check out the video below to see the camper's 2018 debut. Then, scroll down and leave us a comment.