Owning a Tesla Model Y and being able to tow your Airstream behind you can seem like a dream. It would undoubtedly be the best of both worlds to have the leading electric SUV in the world at your helm with your camper in the rear. The question is whether or not it is possible.
Can you tow an airstream with a Tesla Model Y? Yes, a Model Y can tow an Airstream. However, it depends which Airstream and how much other cargo you are trying to take with you. The bottom line is that you can tow your airstream if you are willing to follow certain safety procedures, and willing to sacrifice the loss in Model Y range.
Continue reading to learn more about this topic and get a good understanding of what to expect when towing an Airstream with a Model Y.
Does the Tesla Model Y Have a Trailer Hitch?
First things first, does Model Y come with a trailer hitch or do you have to add one on after?
Yes, the Tesla Model Y has an available tow package that you select when ordering the vehicle. It is available on all types of Model Y configurations.
When you get the package, you will receive a high-strength steel tow bar and a 2” hitch receiver already built into the rear of the vehicle.
Here’s exactly what you’ll get with the tow package on the Tesla Model Y:
- A tow bar that is made of high-grade steel
- A 2” trailer hitch receiver
- North American customers will receive a 7-pin standard connector
- A trailer harness
- A “Tow Mode” software package
Keep in mind that ball mounts are not currently included with the Tesla tow package. This is because the type of ball mounts you need will depend on the specific kind of trailer you decide to tow. You will need to buy your ball mount separately.
What if You Didn’t Buy the Tow Package?
If you already own your Model Y, but didn’t opt for the tow package at the time of ordering, don’t worry. You can have the tow package installed anytime after purchasing the Model Y. Any Tesla service center can order and install the tow package for you at any time.
What Is the Towing Capacity for the Tesla Model Y?
If the Tesla Model Y is properly equipped with a towing package, then it will have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. That is quite respectable for an all-electric crossover vehicle.
How Much Does an Airstream Weigh?
You are probably reading this and thinking to yourself that airstreams come in different sizes, which means different weights as well. This is absolutely correct. In order to determine if a Tesla Model Y can tow your airstream, you will want first want to know the weight of the specific airstream in question.
Here are a few important things that are helpful to know:
- The average airstream weighs between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds.
- Some airstreams actually come in at 8,000 pounds, putting them well beyond the towing capacity of the Tesla Model Y.
- Also, some airstreams are only 2,400 pounds. A Model Y could easily tow one of these.
Keep in mind that towing an airstream with a Model Y means that you will not be able to carry much else back there. Your airstream will need to be fairly empty of cargo. In addition, continue reading for the section on battery drain while towing to determine how far you will actually be able to go with an airstream in tow.
Is It Safe to Tow a Trailer With a Tesla Model Y?
Yes, it is safe to tow a trailer with a Tesla Model Y. The vehicle has undergone extensive testing to ensure that it is safe to tow a trailer.
Keep in mind that the maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds must be observed at all times. It is best practice to keep a considerable margin between your tow load and the maximum tow load if you want to have decent efficiency while towing.
Many testers report that towing with a Model Y is quite easy. Given the instant torque that comes with an all-electric vehicle, along with a great center of gravity, it is as if the Tesla was made for towing.
How Much Does Towing Decrease the Range on the Tesla Model Y?
Many would make the solid argument that towing with an all-electric vehicle such as the Tesla Model Y gives you an advantage. This is because such SUVs and cars have an extreme amount of low-end torque. This makes it easy for them to generate the power necessary to tow items behind the vehicle from a stop, low speed, or incline.
The question becomes what sacrifices will you need to make to tow up to the maximum capacity of 3,500 pounds on the Model Y?
There are some things that you need to consider before deciding to tow something as big as an Airstream behind you. Namely, how far are you planning to go between charges?
A Real-Life Range Example
Let us start with an example. One Tesla owner put the towing capability of the Model Y to the test by towing two dirt bikes.
These were both housed on a low-weight trailer. The bikes weight roughly 550 pounds, while the trailer added another 450 pounds. With a total of 1,000 pounds, this fell far below the listed towing capacity of 3,500 pounds for the Tesla Model Y.
The journey was just to be 38 miles. By the halfway point of the trip, the capacity of the battery went from just over 90% to about 66%. Some of this would likely have had to do with the cold weather as well, however, this is quite the battery drain after such short of a trip.
Did the Model Y make the trip with the bikes in tow? Of course, it did, but keep in mind that the journey was only 38 miles. However, the conservative estimate is that you could have only gone a total of 100 miles with this weight.
Even upon returning, the battery did not improve much. The driver was able to make the complete roundtrip journey of 76 miles by using about 46% of the battery capacity. This is far from ideal, but it works.
- Under normal driving conditions, the Model Y gets about 300 miles range at 100% charge. This means 3 miles per 1% of charge.
- In this example, with 1000lb in tow, the range decreased to 1.72 miles per 1%.
- This means with 1000lb in tow, the Model Y gets roughly 57% efficiency, or 171 miles range at 100% charge.
The moral seems to be that you can do short distances between charging with the Model Y, while towing heavy loads.
Battery Capacity While Towing With the Model Y
Also, keep in mind that this example had the Model Y towing just a third of its listed weight capacity. This is something that an electric crossover vehicle should easily be able to do. The range on a Model Y under normal driving conditions without towing anything is a respectable 303-330 miles, but with battery degradation and other factors, you can expect 300 miles range at 100%.
Since this is the maximum capacity, keep in mind that many Tesla owners report only getting about 200 miles out of the vehicle at 100% charge because of the speed they are driving, the weight, the weather, and other external factors. This is still great for an all-electric vehicle, but it does not allow much room for compromise, and it certainly does not bode well for towing heavy loads long distances.
The Model Y can tow a smaller airstream. That is pretty cool. However, you will probably not want to go very far without factoring in charging stops as the battery capacity will be less than desired. If you are interested in towing with your Model Y, just add the towing package, and off you go. Enjoy!