Towing with an electric van

All you need to know about towing with an electric van

Towing is a key task carried out by many van fleets, so what happens when companies introduce electric vehicles. Can you fit a tow bar to an electric van? How much weight can electric vans tow? We take an in-depth look at the key questions facing businesses and list some of the best electric vans for towing.

Electric vans and towing

A growing number of fleet operators are asking whether it is possible to tow with an electric vehicle, as they plan for the switch away from fossil fuels over the coming decade.
We answer the key fleet questions, identify the issues you need to consider when choosing towing vehicles for your business, and reveal which electric van holds a world record for towing. 

Can I put a tow bar on an electric van?

You can add a tow bar to a growing number of battery-powered models from van manufacturers. In some cases, you may be able to order a tow bar as a factory-fit option. Before deciding whether this is the right decision, you need to consider the towing ability of the van you are reviewing along with its potential range. Consider how towing might affect the real-world distances the van can cover on a single charge.

Can you tow a trailer with an electric van?

A growing number of electric vans are suitable for towing, but not all of them. Many are limited to 750kg, but as manufacturers recognise the scale of demand in the market, several new models have been launched with much greater towing capacity. For example, the Iveco eDaily can be specified with up to 3.5 tonnes towing capacity. However, some others are not capable of towing, so it’s important to check the specification before ordering. 

Are electric vans good for towing?

Electric vehicles have excellent torque from standstill, so many are well-suited to pulling heavy trailers. However, fleets need to consider the distances they will be towing, as batteries will drain much more quickly with the added heavy load behind the vehicle, which also increases wind resistance. Just as fossil fuel vehicles consume more diesel when towing, electric vehicles will use more energy from their battery to pull a trailer.

How much weight can electric vans tow?

Manufacturers publish the towing capability of their electric vehicles in brochures and the figures differ significantly between models. Many can tow up to the legal limit for an unbraked trailer, which is 750kg. However, models such as the Renault Kangoo E-Tech can tow a braked trailer. In the Renault’s case, its braked trailer limit is 1,500kg, which is the same as the petrol or diesel version in the Kangoo range. Iveco claims 3.5 tonnes towing capacity for the largest version of its eDaily.

Can electric vans tow as much as a diesel van?

In most cases, the towing capability of electric vans is less than a diesel equivalent. For example, the Citroen e-Dispatch can tow 1,000kg, while the diesel variant is rated to tow 2,500kg. However, some models can tow the same as a diesel, such as the Iveco eDaily or Renault Kangoo E-Tech. 

How far can an electric van tow a trailer?

The added weight and wind resistance of a trailer can substantially reduce the distances electric vans can cover in a single charge, so fleets need to plan routes carefully to include charging stops. As a broad estimate, range may be reduced by around 30% with a full load. However, other factors need to be considered in addition to trailer weight. Range will also be reduced in colder weather, or if drivers use power-sapping devices while on the move, including heating and air conditioning. Speed also has an impact. For example, driving at 70mph instead of 50mph can increase fuel consumption by more than 30%. Commonly fitted items such as external racking can also increase drag and energy use. Fleets need to ensure they test vehicles in a variety of real-world conditions to understand if vehicle performance is suited to their requirements.

Where do I find the towing capacity of an electric van?

Most electric van manufacturers publish the towing capacity of their vans in their brochure, many of which can be downloaded from their websites. You also need to review the van’s Gross Train Weight, or Gross Combination Weight (GCW), which is the maximum combined weight of the vehicle, trailer and any loads carried. For example, the Vauxhall Vivaro electric panel van has a GCW of 4,100kg. This information can be found in the manufacturer’s brochure or on the vehicle’s weight plate, typically fitted under the bonnet or in a door opening. 

Do drivers need a special licence to tow with an electric van?

Most drivers with a car licence will be able to tow in most electric vans. The government has already legislated for drivers with a standard car licence to operate electric vans weighing up to 4,250kg, compared to a 3,500kg limit for fossil fuel vans, which reflects the extra weight of EV batteries. For towing, legislation changes mean standard licence holders can tow with a maximum electric vehicle and trailer combination weight of 7,000kg, (8,250kg if you passed your test before 1 January 1997). The government recommends accredited trailer training first, either for those towing for the first time or as refresher training for experienced drivers. However, the Association of Fleet Operators says there is disagreement on rules relating to areas such as when a tachograph is needed, or whether vehicles are subject to the same annual testing requirements as HGVs. 

What are the best vans for towing?

Here are some of the top electric van picks for towing:

Ford E-Transit

Towing capacity - 750kg

The Ford E-Transit may not have one of the biggest payloads when it comes to towing, but it has more than five decades of Ford heritage behind it from the manufacturer of the UK’s best-selling van. Ford also points customers to the new Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid for pulling heavier loads, with a targeted maximum towing capacity of 2,300kg.

Iveco eDaily

Towing capacity – up to 3,500kg

Depending on the configuration of your eDaily, the heavyweight contender can tow the same as its diesel equivalent. For additional bragging rights, a standard Iveco eDaily holds a Guinness World record for towing, having pulled more than 153.58 tonnes on a private test track, when it was driven by Britain’s strongest man, Adam Bishop, for a special tow challenge. You can see the record breaking pull here -

Renault Master E-Tech

Towing capacity - 2,500kg

The new Renault Master E-Tech will be available to order later this year and offers a hefty 2.5 tonnes of towing capacity. Nissan has revealed a new Interstar electric van on the same platform.

Vauxhall Movano Electric

Towing capacity – 2,400kg

Vauxhall’s biggest van also offers plenty of towing talent. Along with a 1.3 tonne payload, it can tow 2,400kg, delivering similar capacity to some Movano diesel variants.

Renault Kangoo E-Tech

Towing capacity - 1,500kg

You can pull up to 1,500kg with a braked trailer in the Renault Kangoo E-Tech, which recently secured the Best Small Electric Van trophy at the What Car? Awards 2024.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

Towing capacity - 1,500kg

Mercedes-Benz has opened order books for its new electric eSprinter, which comes with a potential towing capacity of 1,500kg and increased range compared to the outgoing model.

Maxus eDeliver 7

Towing capacity - 1,500kg

While there are three models in the Maxus eDeliver range, all offering more than 1,000kg towing capacity, the eDeliver 7 ‘leads the weigh’, with its rating to tow 1,500kg with a braked trailer.

Stellantis medium vans

Towing capacity - 1,000kg

Citroen, Fiat, Peugeot and Vauxhall all produce medium-sized vans from the same capable Stellantis platform, meaning they offer similar towing capacity.

The Citroen e-Dispatch, Fiat E-Scudo, Peugeot e-Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro Electric all offer 1,000kg towing capacity with a braked trailer. The Toyota Proace Electric, built on the same platform, has the same towing capability.

Citroen e-Dispatch

Fiat E-Scudo

Peugeot e-Expert

Vauxhall Vivaro Electric

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo

Towing capacity - 1,000kg

One of the most eye-catching vans on the road can also pull its weight when it comes to towing. The Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo can haul a 1,000kg braked trailer.

Where can I find out more about electric vans and towing?

For the latest insight on everything electric when it comes to commercial vehicles, speak to a member of the Reflex Vehicle Hire team.

We can tell you what you need to know about any of the vehicles covered or arrange a potential test drive through the Reflex Renewable Drive programme.

We always focus on understanding your unique requirements so we can tailor our approach to offer a fully personalised service. Whether it is diesel, petrol or electric power, Reflex Vehicle Hire is here to help and power your fleet forward, with a wide range of vehicles and expert guidance.

Ask about our award-winning EV:IE (Electric Vehicle Information Exchange) service, which provides expert analysis of your current fleet and detailed guidance on the most suitable alternatives to your fossil fuelled vehicles, so you can make the best choices when introducing electric cars and vans.


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