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Old 12-29-2016, 11:01 PM   #1
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Towing with Electricity and a Model X

I've made a few posts discussing this, but today I took delivery of my 22 Sport. There were some issues during delivery with fit and finish. One of the windows has a gap between the front trim and the body. Insulation was coming through. Techs at my location (Bay Area Airstream Adventures) said that they were unable to close up the gap and that it's not uncommon. There are other window fitment issues that seem sloppy, but nothing that seems to be a major functional issue.

Some other careless details include window caulking issues, sink drain caulk, which is partially missing, stripped screw heads on the Fantastic Fan cover, some rusted screw heads on the outside of the vehicle, etc. Again, nothing terribly functional but also not terribly impressive for a leader in the RV world.

On to the good stuff - in general, it looks and tows well. The Tesla has absolutely no trouble pulling the Sport. I was able to accelerate rapidly when necessary, and I don't think I'll be hungry for more power. The issue with the electric drivetrain isn't power - it's range. On my way home, I drove an average of about 55 mph into gusty headwinds and crosswinds. I consumed about 580Wh/mi, which is about a 145 mile range on a full charge. To most of you with ICE tow vehicles, I'm sure that seems meager, but for me, 2.5 hours of towing is fine time for a break. We'll see how that works out in real life.

I got the Sport home and, being that this is my first trailering experience, spent a little time backing it into the perfect spot. I took a few passes, trying to get the hang of it. Overall, I felt I did well. Best to practice at home when nobody's there to laugh at me, right? Well, my wife was grinning.. but hopefully she was just glad I was home.

I'll update more as to the ups and downs of towing with my X. For now, I'm excited for our first jaunt to the beach.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:30 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your purchase! Is was dropping off my 30' today (a little warranty work) just as you were leaving.
Safe travels!
Check out Northern California Airstreamers if you are on Facebook. Local NorCal rallies, etc.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:42 AM   #3
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Thanks! Funny that you saw me leaving. I'm not on Facebook but will keep my eye out on this forum and elsewhere for meet ups. Thanks again.
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Old 12-30-2016, 04:46 AM   #4
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What happens with the electric car when you run out of juice 25 miles from home pulling your trailer? Red Lodge,Mt now has plug ins for electric cars, interesting, at the airport drag races last summer, one run thru the 1/4 mile, it was very impressive....
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Old 12-30-2016, 05:18 AM   #5
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What happens with the electric car when you run out of juice 25 miles from home pulling your trailer? Red Lodge,Mt now has plug ins for electric cars, interesting, at the airport drag races last summer, one run thru the 1/4 mile, it was very impressive....
There is a battery monitor; they don't just run out without warning. Sounds like range is a lot better than it was when I drove an EV, though. Used to drive 45 miles to work and have to plug in.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:00 AM   #6
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Ohmman,
I had some ideas on your sleeping 4 situation. I am sending you a private message.
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Old 12-30-2016, 08:56 AM   #7
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What happens with the electric car when you run out of juice 25 miles from home pulling your trailer? Red Lodge,Mt now has plug ins for electric cars, interesting, at the airport drag races last summer, one run thru the 1/4 mile, it was very impressive....
This is the same question I was asked often when I got my first Tesla three years ago. In three years, we've never run out of charge. We've taken road trips all over the Western United States, and would have done more if we could have had the kids out of school longer and more time off/available.

I recognize that EVs are new technology, and a lot of people have zero or near zero experience with them. There is a lot of FUD being spread around about them, so it's easy to make the mistake in thinking that your proposed scenario is a big risk. That's why I'm here, I hope to share some of the challenges of towing with an electric vehicle, and hopefully some of the benefits as well.

My Model X shows the estimated range in real time. It has a trip planner, which will tell me whether I'm going to make it to my destination. As I consume electricity on the trip, the large display shows me a graph that compares the car's original estimate to my actual consumption. From that, I can always decide to slow down if necessary, or keep going. As it turns out, Tesla thought ahead and adjusted their trip planner as soon as the 7-pin is connected and the car goes into trailer-mode. Over time, it learns the consumption of the vehicle with the trailer and gets even more accurate.

Electricity is more ubiquitous than gas stations. It's slower to fuel up and less convenient at the current stage of the technology. I don't deny that. However, it's commonly available, and in a pinch, even a standard household 15A outlet will suffice. A dryer plug is even faster, and a 50A RV plug faster still. Then there are the fast charging stations.

The reality of towing with an X is probably stopping every 110-150 miles, depending on terrain and conditions. Again, it's not currently as convenient as an ICE TV, but there are different externalities associated with it. I would be happy to go into the numbers but don't want to bore people too much. One important facet is air pollution from vehicle exhaust, which has a very high public health cost. It is true that some EVs are charged with fossil fuel fired power plants, but the efficiency rate is much higher (less fuel burned per mile) and the exhaust is concentrated away from major cities. Additionally, the grid continually gets cleaner, so an EV can get cleaner without replacement. That is generally not the case with an ICE, in fact it's often the inverse.

Regardless, I appreciate your interest and I hope this explains some of how (and a little of why) I feel safe towing with my Tesla.
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:04 AM   #8
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To most of you with ICE tow vehicles, I'm sure that seems meager, but for me, 2.5 hours of towing is fine time for a break. We'll see how that works out in real life.
Not to poop on my beloved truck, but my Tundra gets only about 2 hours of towing per tank :-(
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Old 12-30-2016, 09:13 AM   #9
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Not to poop on my beloved truck, but my Tundra gets only about 2 hours of towing per tank :-(
At 60 mph that's just 120 mile range. Are your sure? Gasoline powered tow vehicles seem to average about 10 mpg so your truck has a 12 +/- gallon tank?
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:12 PM   #10
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I've been curious about the possibility of carrying a spare battery pack in the airstream.

It would double your range if needed, and could provide scads of power for the trailer if you were boondocking off grid.

Would a Powerwall be suitable for this?
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:31 PM   #11
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My Tundra has maybe a 26 gallon tank.
When I fill it with gas I usually put in 20-22 gallons.
I range anywhere from 10-14 mpg.
At the very low side I get a 200 mile range.
On a good day with no wind and flat terrain I have a 300 mile range.
The new Tundras have a 38 gallon tank.
I tow at 60-65 mph.
My trailer is a 30' Classic, possibly the heaviest Airstream until the Classic 33 came out.
Not understanding why a Tundra would only go 120 miles on a tank of gas.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ohmman View Post
I'll update more as to the ups and downs of towing with my X. For now, I'm excited for our first jaunt to the beach.
Thanks for posting. I look forward to reading more about your experiences. Coincidentally, we were at the Tesla dealer yesterday, sitting in an X. Daughter and son-in law have a 3 on order for next year.

There will be adjustments and development required, but I think towing with an EV is going to become much more common.

Jeff
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:54 PM   #13
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Ohmman,

Glad to see someone towing with a "Silicone Valley Camry"!

So long as your onboard recharge station program can find charging stations in closer intervals for you, then you should avoid range anxiety while towing, even if your drives are broken up into more frequent rest/charge stops.

Sorry to hear about your AS's fit-&-finish problems, but from what I hear from other newer AS owners, the quality is just not as good since Thor took them over (Thor also owns several more pedestrian trailer makers).

A similar thing happened to Avions when the were bought by Fleetwood back in the 1970s, when Fleetwood cut quality in the 80's, then eventually "Avion" was reduced to a sticker on the side of their "box trailers"!

Happy Holidays!
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:02 PM   #14
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Not to poop on my beloved truck, but my Tundra gets only about 2 hours of towing per tank :-(
I don't have a Tundra, but I would be willing to bet you have a bigger gas tank than that. Maybe you need a new gas gauge.

My Chevy 1500 Silverado has a 33 gal tank and a terribly unreliable gas gauge. I can drive 230 miles towing with gas to spare but the gas gauge makes me nervous so I stop and put in 20 gallons.
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:15 PM   #15
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Yeah...what I meant was that at two hours I start to look for the next gas station. Got that number programmed in my head even though the actual range is a bit further....
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:28 PM   #16
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I just go my 200 miles then start looking for a gas station.
I might get gas sooner out west where stations are fewer and farther in between.
A general rule of thumb is to start being aware/conscious about it at 1/4 tank.
When the fuel light comes on I still have 4-6 gallons or anywhere from 40-70 miles to go, although the distance to empty calculator will say 0 miles to empty... I have driven to the next town with "0 miles to empty" and didn't run out- not that it is a good idea or anyone should make that a habit...
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:29 PM   #17
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I am following this with interest. I wanted an X so bad and I may be trading in my Porsche Macan S for one in a couple of years. My big issues is I have a 4 hour drive from 8k elevation to 2k elevation to get to the PHX airport from the White Mountains. Sadly, there is no charger in between the two locations at this time (there is a private one at a motel).

Do you mind telling me what battery pack set up you are using? That is my deal breaker right now. To get the larger pack, I went over my 6 figure number for a car :-)

Looking forward to learning more from you so you can fuel my dream.

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Old 12-30-2016, 02:39 PM   #18
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Towing with Electricity and a Model X

Ohmman (great name, BTW) - really ignorant question here but does your Tesla have solar charging capability so you can extend that 150 miles a bit of at least speed the charging process when you get there? Not sir what that might even buy you - was just curious.

Thanks for sharing about this! I'd love to actually see a Tesla hybrid where a Diesel engine is charging the batteries - like CSX's trains moving a ton 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel....
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:37 PM   #19
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I'm drooling.... One day.... I fill up at half tank, which is roughly 2 hrs. So your breaks is about right. How long do you have to wait for it to charge so you are on the road again?.. again, still drooling with my tongue on the floor....
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Old 12-30-2016, 04:46 PM   #20
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I've been curious about the possibility of carrying a spare battery pack in the airstream.

It would double your range if needed, and could provide scads of power for the trailer if you were boondocking off grid.

Would a Powerwall be suitable for this?
This has been brought up numerous times in the Tesla community. As far as charging the car, the Powerwall doesn't have a DC-DC capability for vehicle charging. I've been a proponent of that as a solution for at-home charging because it limits losses incurred with the AC-DC converter/charger. I have had a reservation for Powerwalls since the first one was announced, but haven't been contacted. I believe it's partially due to the fact that I already have more solar than I need, and they'd like to bundle packages. Additionally, they need to figure out how to interface with existing inverters.

I do not think the Powerwall, as shipped, is suitable for what you're suggesting even from a boondocking perspective. That doesn't mean an enterprising person couldn't do some work, but I imagine that'll be less than straightforward.

I have another thread on this, but I'm considering using the 12V system on the Tesla (which is supplied by the huge battery pack) to aid in boondocking. The simplest way is to just leave my 4th blade on the 7-way connector hot. I can do this by putting the car in neutral and engaging the emergency brake. I get a constant 13.8VDC measured at the back of the vehicle. The better way is to put terminals in the frunk and build a custom solution to run the trailer completely off of the Tesla when boondocking... that will take some extra consideration.

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Originally Posted by MsTara View Post
Do you mind telling me what battery pack set up you are using? That is my deal breaker right now. To get the larger pack, I went over my 6 figure number for a car :-)
I have a 90D. I was one of the earlier reservationists, having put my deposit down 2 years before I actually received the X. I believe we'll see a 100D within a couple of quarters, and once the Model 3 starts shipping, we'll see the new cells (2170/21700) making their way into higher capacity packs at lower prices. I suspect that if this Airstream venture turns out to be as much fun as I'm hoping, that I'll be trading up to a 120D or so in another 18-24 months. I may be optimistic about battery density progress, but I toured the Gigafactory in Nevada and was pretty blown away by it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac
Ohmman (great name, BTW) - really ignorant question here but does your Tesla have solar charging capability so you can extend that 150 miles a bit of at least speed the charging process when you get there? Not sir what that might even buy you - was just curious.
The Tesla doesn't have a solar roof or other type of solar setup. It's hard to get one's head around the battery capacity and the energy used to move a vehicle. My X has a 90kWh battery, which includes about 84kWh of usable capacity. A solar panel on the roof would supply at most, 300W for perhaps up to 5 hours (really would be below max for a lot of the day). That's, at best, 1.5kWh of range. It's something, but it's just not enough to matter. The reality is probably more along the lines of 0.5kWh of charge while driving. Enough for a mile and a half of driving without the trailer.

This is why hooking up the Airstream to the Tesla to boondock seems scary, but is such a minor part of the battery capacity. Since most Airstreamers talk in 12V Ah, just convert the storage of my X battery to 12V Ah like so: 84kWh * 1000W/kW / 12V = 7000Ah. Even 1/10th of that is 700Ah, which is pretty stout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cazual6
How long do you have to wait for it to charge so you are on the road again?
It depends. At an RV camp with electric hookup, I'll leave full because I'll charge off of the RV port. If I'm truly near empty, the first half of my battery will take about 20 minutes to fill at a Tesla charger (so called Superchargers). The second half tapers so it takes longer, about 40 minutes. It's most certainly not a short trip and not remotely comparable to fueling an ICE. Without the trailer, you only need about a half a charge to make it to the next stop, so charging is very quick - enough for a bathroom break or a coffee. With the Airstream, I'll typically be forced to charge to full. This is where the larger battery becomes very time-valuable.


I just want to say thanks to all of you for the questions and for the enthusiasm. My preconceived bias was that I'd be met with staunch resistance from the RV crowd, and I'm very happy to have you break that bias. I am not going to pretend this is the most convenient setup, but hopefully we can all learn a little something together.
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