If you’re planning on towing, chances are you’ll need a heavy car. Electric cars fit that purpose perfectly. Let’s explore why weight matters as well as 10 examples of electric car weights. For examples, I’ve used electric cars which have the longest range from my article on electric car ranges as a decent range is an essential feature for popular tow vehicles.
In principle, after sampling 10 electric cars, the average weight of an electric car is 1799 kg. However, the car will have a different weight depending on what you need it for. For example, towing needs a heavy car and carrying 7 people is likely to need a heavier car.
How Is Electric Car Weight Measured?
There’s a few methods of weighing cars which you will have come across. You’ve probably heard terms such as curb weight or gross vehicle weight, here’s what they mean:
Curb weight is the total weight of a vehicle which contains standard equipment such as electronics, oil (if applicable), a fuel tank and motors, even the air conditioning refrigerant liquid is included. However, a vehicles curb weight doesn’t account for any passengers or cargo, and sometimes doesn’t account for fuel.
Obviously, fuel isn’t an issue here as you are looking at electric cars here. Though batteries do get slightly lighter when discharged, the difference is so small that it’s negligible!
Gross Vehicle Weight
Gross vehicle weight (GVW) represents the total weight of your vehicle, including passengers and cargo as well as all the other above mentioned in the curb weight section.
Don’t confuse it with gross vehicle weight rating though, which is a rating placed on your car by the manufacturer. You should not exceed this rating with your personal GVW otherwise you’re subject to a multitude of problems and a potential void of your warranty. Basically, avoid doing that unless you absolutely have to.
Additionally, this measurement does not take into account your attached trailer (if any).
Perhaps these ones more obvious than the others due to the name. Though the last two measurements were fairly similar, this one is completely different. So, towing capacity is the amount of mass your vehicle is rated to tow. Whether that be a 1-tonne caravan or a 500kg trailer, each vehicle has a different amount it can tough.
Towing capacity is very import to consider if you wish to tow with your electric car.
Here are some examples of popular electric cars and how much they weigh in order of weight:
- Model X Long Range – 2459 kg without passengers or fuel (7 adult capacity).
- Tesla Model S Performance – 2241 kg without passengers or cargo (5 adult capacity).
- Tesla Model S Long Range – 2215 kg without passengers of cargo (5 adult capacity).
- Model 3 Performance and Long Range AWD – 1847 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- Nissan Leaf – 1775 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- Chevrolet Bolt – 1616 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- Opel/Vauxhall Ampera-E – 1611 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- Renault Zoe, 44 kWh – 1480 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- Hyundai Kona – 1399 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
- BMW i3 – 1343 kg without passengers or fuel (5 adult capacity).
How Is Electric Car Weight so High?
After finding out some of these numbers, I was very surprised at the astounding weight of some of these vehicles. Even smaller cars like the BMW i3 seemed to weigh much more than I expected. Here’s why:
Most of the weight difference comes in the battery pack. Fortunately, such battery pack lines the base of the car, keeping the centre of gravity low (44.5 cm above the ground) which is great for handling. Alone, the battery of a Tesla Model S weighs 544 kg, that’s half a tonne just by itself. The car itself weighs 2241 kg, so the battery pack is 24% of the car’s mass.
Next, there are all the electronics. Since electric cars (especially Tesla) are almost fully computerised, there’s a huge amount of cabling which goes into each car. Tesla’s vision system uses a series of 8 cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to enable partial driving. On new cars, that’s fed into a high powered computer which handles the data. Yeah, an that’s just one part of it.
Of course, conventional cars have cabling too, but there’s not as much, especially since there’s no battery pack and they’re not usually as high technologically advanced as modern electric cars.
Model S consists of a primarily aluminium body (a product of the bauxite ore) and the underside is made of titanium. As you’ve probably heard, lithium-ion batteries can make for some pretty spectacular fires, so Tesla made the wise decision to protect them with a strong metal undercarriage.
Titanium is preferred by Tesla because it is light, but also very sturdy. It protects the battery from any debris or sharp objects that may puncture it. this is extremely important to protect lithium ion batteries.
Best Car for Towing – Model X Long Range.
As anticipated, the Model X long range wins this category. It’s large mass and impressive combined 660 Nm (newton metres) of torque. That’s 330 Nm for each motor, one at the front and one at the rear. Tesla offers a manufacturer fit towbar attachment, but it’ll cost you an extra $750 on top of the extra rather hefty price tag.
All of that instant torque gives it the ability to pull away without holding other drivers up. I wrote an article about electric car acceleration here. Conveniently, you could even overtake slower drivers if they are holding you up.
It’s towing capacity is estimated to be around 2721 kg at the least, meaning you’ll be able to tow just about any standard sized trailer or caravan which will fit on a conventional towbar.
How Much Does Towing Reduce Range?
There have been several videos published on YouTube regarding how towing reduces range. For example, this video by Cars Guide in Australia. They conclude that, on average, range decreases by about 101% between the two routes which they tested.
Comparatively, the Toyota Land Cruiser VX which they also tested used about 63% more fuel over the two routes. The caravan they used had a weight of 1746 kg, which is at least 1 tonne below the Tesla’s towing capacity.
However, as one person rightfully pointed out in the comments, “It missed one other key factor – efficiency – if you consider that one litre of diesel fuel has the energy of 10 KWh the Land Cruiser used 186 KWh of energy for 100 km compared to the 43 KWh per 100 km for the Tesla – the Tesla is four times more efficient than the Toyota doing the same job.”
Conclusion – Should You Be Worried About Electric Car Weight?
Most often, weight will be an advantage to you if you’re thinking of buying an electric car. It keeps the centre of gravity low, reducing roll in corners, resulting in better handling. Also, it generally allows for more cargo to be loaded in, though not always. Finally, it allows for greater towing capacity, although gas cars suffer from less in terms of range decrease when towing.
There are some downsides though, lots of weight generally means slower acceleration. That’s not a problem if your car has a powerful battery, so in most EVs, you’re covered. If you’ve got any questions about the range of you’re electric vehicle, or on this article, feel free to leave a comment below.