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Australia: Electric vehicles that can tow your boat, caravan or horse float are coming to Australia, but how long will we have to wait?

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Grant Grosser would like to buy an electric vehicle to tow his caravan, boat and horse float. (Supplied: Grant Grosser) © Provided by ABC Business Grant Grosser would like to buy an electric vehicle to tow his caravan, boat and horse float. (Supplied: Grant Grosser)

Electric vehicles "won't tow your boat, they won't tow your trailer", and will spell the end of the weekend — at least according to former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2019.

Well, he wasn't quite right, as explained in an ABC RMIT Fact Check at the time, and car manufacturers are today creating all-electric models with hefty towing capacities.

But when will they be released into the Australian market?

There are already some electric vehicles with towing kits available in Australia with varying towing capacities under 1.6 tonnes.

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That's not enough for Dayboro-based Nick Bradley, who tows up to 3 tonnes of metal and livestock every weekend from his southern Queensland property.

"The weight changes depending on how many horses we've got in the back.

"We do have a front caravan installed into the horse float too," he told ABC NewsRadio.

He's using a 2018 combustion engine Toyota Prado, capable of pulling up to 3 tonnes when connected to an electric braking system that's called "braked".

But with the cost of petrol and diesel so high, he's rethinking what his next purchase will be.

"Electric vehicles are the way of the future… and I'm looking to upgrade anyway, so why not upgrade in the present for the future?

"But there's nothing available for immediate delivery."

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Not to suit Nick's towing needs, anyway.

Strict rules and safety considerations

There are several models currently available in Australia if you're looking at towing a lighter trailer or a compact caravan under 1.6 tonnes braked.

But many just aren't large enough for heftier loads.

Michael Hua saw a gap in the market, and is now the owner of EV Stealth Solutions, a Sydney-based company which installs Australian standard aftermarket towing kits on electric vehicles that are certified by the manufacturer to do so, but just don't come with a tow bar.

But he said it was a tricky process.

It took him months to figure out how to jump through extra hoops to meet Australia's stringent towing certification rules to put a bike rack on his Tesla Model 3.

"All of our US-made tow bars are internationally certified up to the towing capacity of the vehicle, but in Australia, you have to go through another layer – you actually have to test the towbar one-and-a-half times the quoted capacity," he said.

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Simon Homann runs a horse float manufacturing company in Victoria and has done his fair share of matching Australian drivers with their ultimate towing set up.

He said a third of his clients are now talking about towing with electric vehicles, but with a standard float and two horses coming in at 2.5 tonnes, they're a long way off from finding something that suits.

"It really needs to tow more than that, because that's the car's limit," he said.

"You're putting braking and drive train systems to the max…

"The way the Australian towing capacity system works, is that the vehicle needs to be equally as heavy as the float."

Weighing it up

Many people have expressed concerns over the range these vehicles can drive, with fewer charging stations than petrol stations, and the extra weight of a boat, caravan or horse float chewing through more power.

Perth-based Grant Grosser tows either a horse float, a 3.8 tonne caravan, or a 4.25 tonne boat with a Dodge Ram 1500 and is worried he wouldn't make it on his big trips in one go.

"My normal trip towing with my boat is 780km," he said.

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"I can't do that in one day, I'd have to stop overnight because there's no charge points to get yourself the rest of the way," he said.

But Hannah Lewindon, who is based in Bethania, south of Brisbane, and travels interstate for horse competitions, is more concerned over the speed of charging.

"People say they are worried about towing, but I think there are very few people that tow far without stopping," she said.

"The speed of charging is more of a concern for me."

But Simon agrees to disagree.

"Stopping to charge and leave them standing in the midday sun is just not practical," he said.

But Grant is sold on the power an electric vehicle can deliver.

"Electric motors develop a lot more torque, the real pulling power you need for towing," he said.

"Electric motors develop torque much easier than petrol motors, so if you look at the Rivian with the quad motor, that delivers 1,200 newton meters of torque, which is nearly twice the latest Toyota Land Cruiser develops and more than my Ram.

"We are almost at a point where battery power is making sense. But we aren't quite there yet."

What is on the horizon?

Despite calls for electric vehicles with greater towing capacity, there are a number of electric vehicles that can tow currently on the market.

Simon currently tows with a Ford Ranger, capable of pulling 3.5 tonnes, but said he's just put a deposit down on a Ford F-150 Lightning — an electric vehicle which will offer a 4.5 tonnes towing capacity.

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"They're saying it won't be around until June next year, but the final price of it hasn't been discussed," he said.

ABC NewsRadio asked Ford Australia when the F-150 Lightning hits our shores, but they said it's currently only available in left-hand drive, so there is "no news to share on any plans to bring it to Australia".

Last month, Jaguar Land Rover announced that by 2024, "customers will be able to choose from the first of six all-electric Land Rovers".

Until then, there are some hybrid variations available.

A Toyota spokesperson told ABC NewsRadio: "Toyota Australia does not currently offer any Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) that can tow more than 2.5 tonnes".

But they said Toyota Global is investing nearly $100 billion into "carbon-reducing and carbon-neutral vehicles and technologies between now and 2030".

"This included 16 new BEV vehicles for different sectors, although towing capacities are yet to be determined," a spokesperson said.

Nick has his eye on the electric Rivian ute, which at $90,0000 is promising a towing capacity of up to 5 tonnes, but they've been ruled out of the Australian market until around 2024.

Hannah thinks although the wait can seem like a long time, it's not grossly far off the wait times for some in-demand petrol and diesel vehicles.

"There's a 12-month backlog on fuel vehicles anyway, so if I have to wait 12 months for a diesel or a petrol, and if I express my interest now, maybe I should get a hybrid instead," she said.

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