Can You Tow Charge A Tesla Model 3? Watch To Find Out


Miles in, more miles out!

Most electric vehicles have a special superpower. Pull them down the road using another vehicle — rolling down a steep incline has a similar effect — and the regenerative braking function can actually put power back into the battery. Turns out, the Tesla Model 3 is no exception here and can also pull off this party trick if needed. How do we know? The Tech Forum YouTube channel, hosted by Matt Shumaker, has posted a couple of videos of the car doing just that and they’re a lot more interesting than one might suspect. The first video (above) shows their initial attempts at the range-extension technique, while the second (below) sees them try it again and attempt to acquire some useful data.

Now, between the two towing attempts, Shumaker updated his car’s software to version 9. That may have had a slight effect on his results, as he says regen is a bit stronger with the updated software. Also, while the distance covered in the first video was less than a mile, the second test, performed on a flat loop in a residential neighborhood at low speeds, was a full mile.

As they pull, the screen in the Model 3 screen energy consumption screen displays the effect of the electricity being generated, which, for the most part, measures out at a little more than 1 kWh per mile. Though, as we said, the experiment was conducted at low speed, going faster wouldn’t necessarily put even more energy back in, as that rate is limited by the car.

After they cover a mile, our host completes a number of circuits around the test loop using the energy loaned to it by the tow vehicle. Keeping the speed about the same — around 15 to 20 miles per hour — he finds that he can travel more than 10 additional miles just using that energy absorbed from the mile while under tow.

Though the circumstances where this knowledge could be employed are rare, we have heard of this being done before when a vehicle has run out of charge on the road. Before doing it yourself, though, we recommend first checking to make sure any warranties aren’t being voided.

Source: YouTube

Categories: Tesla, Videos

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33 Comments on "Can You Tow Charge A Tesla Model 3? Watch To Find Out"

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I need to replace my wall charger with an F150 truck to introduce some variety in my Tesla charging methods.

What? No Old 1950’s ARMY 6 x 6? That would “Greatly Improve” on the “Impracticality” of using this as a routine approach to charging!

However, if you Do Run Out of Juice, a Semi would be nice to “Hitch a Tow From”, to top it up! A 10 Mile tow should get you another 30-40+ Miles of charge!

Can anyone confirm which model 3 has the best regen the RWD or the AWD or are they the same?

Logic says the AWD, with its two motors, should regen significantly better than the single-motor RWD. But I don’t recall seeing any report of a direct comparison test.

One of the dumbest articles ever to appear on this website. Does using a Tesla to tow another Tesla create a perpetual motion machine? I think not.

Next test– tow a Model 3 with a Model 3 and see how much energy is used by the lead vehicle. You see where I am going here. 🙂

I’d be curious to see energy consumption of a Model 3 drafting a Model 3. In a future with autonomous cars that can communicate with one another, it seems they would all arrange themselves nose to tail like box cars in a train.

Like geese flying in formation, the one breaking trail (so to speak) could drop to the end of the pack when its battery pack gets “tired”. 😉

Before someone gets the brilliant idea to tow a Model 3 behind a motorhome– once the batteries get full, that energy has to go *somewhere*– and I doubt that the cooling system is up to it.

You might end up towing a ball of flame.

Alas, all those people who live on a hill and fully charged their EVs before leaving home only to have it explode before reaching the bottom of the hill! /sarc
Clearly, you have not considered how EVs reduce regen as their batteries get full.

The Bolt has a hilltop charge mode for just this situation. Great idea where I live in Colorado. It isn’t uncommon for people to have a 1000 foot elevation difference between home and work

Regen is decreased significantly when close to a full charge.

Regen is 0 at full charge in my eGolf. I can’t believe OP posted that….definitely not an ev driver.

Kind of an obvious this that the engineers all would have realized. Otherwise we’d be seeing EVs self destruct on a regular basis.

“he finds that he can travel more than 10 additional miles just using that energy absorbed from the mile while under tow.”

So regen braking generates 10+ times the energy that it takes to power the vehicle the same distance?

I’m calling BS on this one…

He shows that it used more than half (1052-489)/1052 = 53.5% for the first mile, which is believable. From there, it’s a s/w bug.

I find it a bit strange, too; but, at a normal (read: Highway Speed) energy usage giving 4.1 Miles per kWh, and driving gently at 15-20 Mph Quite Likely using even LESS energy, based on my experience in my documentation I was developing in my EV Conversion!

Still, 10 Miles per kWh is quite good, since the best I Ever Got was 67 Wh per Km, which is about equal to 100 Wh per Mile, or what they claim.

I had 2 differences: my Lead Acid Powered Conversion used a Series DC Motor, so No Regen, and 2nd, it was a Firefly (Geo Metro), and running weight was 2,000 Pounds, plus me! My 67 Wh per Km was driving oh so gently, and it still had the 5 speed Manual Transmission, so I could drive at low motor RPM’s, or lower than if I was fixed in 2nd or 3rd gear!

Here’s one reason perhaps short-sellers are getting their butts kicked, they read poorly researched articles like this. and believe them. In just a just few short paragraphs the writer makes a number of errors: Tesla hit 200k in July, beginning of the 3rd quarter, not the 2nd quarter as this article states. “The current CAFE standards will hurt big truck makers such as Ford.” Not really. Light trucks that exceed 8,500 lbs gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) do not have to comply with CAFE standards. These vehicles include pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and large vans. “Zev credits were a big part of their, (Tesla’s) profit for the quarter.” How much of a part you may ask, a big part, well that’s correct of the net: 44 percent of the net profit according to Tesla. “But the subsidy covers only the first 200,000 such vehicles.” Again an error he should say the full subsidy, and once 200k is hit still a full quarter of production gets the full credit and then it falls, cut in half every subsequent quarter. Is that too hard? I mean really. Well it’s pretty bad when a standard of financial reporting can’t even get… Read more »

In addition: Tesla (TSLA) sells EVs to motorists and CAFE credits to other manufacturers.
They are called ZEV credits.
So in conclusion rely on sites that specifically know what they are talking about when it comes to evs, such as insideevs.

Hey, major kudos for being our fact checker here, Ffbj! 🙂

But on the other hand, sadly, I don’t think a lack of critical reading (or lack of critical thinking while reading) is confined to the narrow ranks of TSLA short-sellers.

Thanks, and I agree.

I’m not knocking it, but two minutes into the video I was already bored and quit watching.

And people should stick to Tesla’s recommendation and only tow a Tesla on a flatbed truck.

hes confused as to how the range relates to the battery capacity

or rather he’s confused as to how rated range relates to state of charge.

With a name like Tech Forum this guy doesn’t seem to have much knowledge of technology.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just compare the areas under the curve? Also, if he started at 227 miles or range, tow charged it, and then continued to drive until he zero’d out all the charge he gained, why didn’t he end up at 227 miles instead of 219 miles.

Great video! And really cool to know that the Model 3 can actually charge unplugged so to say.
But I don’t think that the “miles driven on energy generated by towing” is a good enough indication. Do the graphs available on V9 give this other indication : how much kWh (not the Wh/mile number) were gained during towing. Once you know that, you can extrapolate a percentage of battery that can be regenerated by towing relative to the full battery capacity (~ 75kWh). Exemple : if one mile of towing at 15 miles/h generates 3 kWh, then one mile of towing at 15 miles/h equals to 4% SOC.

Tractor Beam of Star Trek would be perfect for this. SpaceX can make this happen! That wouldbe really cool feature.

The guy bases his conclusions on towing the Model 3 for recharging, only a single mile?

This guy is a dilettante! Some Russian Model S owners, with no access to an EV charger, have been known to tow their Model S’s to charge them enough for some real range!

The Tractor Beam of Star Trek is perfect for this!!! SpaceX can make this happen!

Doing it totally the wrong way, needs to be looking at battery percentage rather than miles added to a GOM.

Not a single mention of how much more energy the towing vehicle is using for this (hint: The operation is an energy net negative, and a huge one if the towing vehicle is an ICE).
A Model 3 uses ~250 Wh/mile. Getting 10mi of range requires ~2500Wh.
It would take a lot less energy to charge the Model 3 for the necessary 10mi using a (e.g., Honda) mobile AC generator, which would require ~0.4 USGal of gasoline, than using a towing ICE vehicle, which would use a lot more energy since it also need to move itself for the same distance.

That YouTube channel is no tech forum, and in any school deserving of the name, this timewaster would have flunked 8-grade physics, ignoring conservation of energy.

I don’t think anyone was suggesting this is a practical way to charge a BEV, let alone an energy efficient method!

I’d expect a reference to that fact in a video channel calling itself “tech forum”. Bet you the presenter doesn’t know about it. Sure, if you have absolutely no other way to charge a car with a depleted battery for a short while, just to get to the nearest charger, it beats waiting a few hours for a tow truck.