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When Our Tesla Met Our Camper

In the beginning of 2021, my husband and I felt God urging us to get an electric vehicle (EV) as soon as humanly possible. We didn’t really understand why, as we absolutely loved our Hyundai Santa Fe Unlimited (well, everything except it’s stinky exhaust and 20 miles per gallon). After extensive research about which EVs were available on the market, we bought a used 2016 Tesla Model X P90D with 6,000 miles on it.

Happy, But With Some Limits

Although we would buy it again if we had to, this model and year has a much shorter range than we expected: it is advertised to go 250 miles per charge, but in reality, it’s more like ~180 miles per charge. I’m told it’s because of our suburbia driving habits and having the HVAC always on. So far, we have made it work for us as both a commuter and family car—and we only ran out of battery twice. 😬 Because we live so close to my office, we only have to Supercharge it (AKA go to a Tesla Supercharger station and charge it for over an hour) once per week. The rest of the time, it is plugged in at our home.

2016 Tesla Model X P90D
- Advertised range (mileage per charge): 250 miles
- Real-life range (suburbia driver with HVAC on): 180 miles
- Delta between marketing and real life: -28%

Add a Camper? What Was I Thinking??

I could’ve stopped the blog right there and the story would have ended well, but recently (in mid-2022) I felt a similar urging from God for our family to buy a camper of some sort! When I brought it up to my husband, he was like, “Uh… are you sure?” (No, I’m not! I’ve never even walked into a camper! 😂) But my husband has learned to trust my hearing, especially when gas prices started sky-rocketing this year—so when I told him I was sure, we began doing some research about recreational vehicles (RVs) AKA campers.

Teslas Can Tow…Somewhat

It turns out that the 2016 Model X can tow up to 5,000 lbs. Who knew?! But what did that mean in camper language?

Well, the blogs we read said that we should only travel with 80% of our max towing capacity; this meant 4,000 lbs. Then, I heard God say we should stay under 3,500 lbs “dry weight” (AKA unloaded vehicle weight); this meant the biggest camper we could get was a travel trailer without any slides (rooms that slide out when parked for more interior space).

Then, we had to consider that I am married to a very tall man (taller than 95% of Americans); this meant we chose the one model with a residential queen sized bed available (versus a “short queen” that is found in most travel trailers). That took us to the 2022 Forest River R-Pod RP-192.

Ideally, the RP-192 will leave us the ability to load 500 lbs worth of stuff into the trailer, but I’ve learned to measure everything for myself. So, next time we hitch up, we will drop by a truck stop to weigh everything for ourselves.

The Question on Everybody’s Lips

But how far can a Tesla tow a travel trailer on one charge,” you ask?

Well, we tested it out on our way back from picking up our R-Pod from Ansley RV in Pennsylvania.

Depart: Supercharger Altoona PA 
- Odometer 33,532mi
- Charge 92%
- Time 1658

Arrive: Supercharger Breezewood PA
- Odometer 33,586mi
- Charge 24%
- Time 1812

- Distance 54mi
- Charge 68%
- Time 74min
- Rate 1.25% per mile

Charge: At Breezewood Sheetz
- Time 1826-1925
- Rate 409mi/hr
- Power 59kWh
- Cost $19.47

- The 2016 Tesla Model X P90D can tow a ~3,500lb travel trailer up to 70 miles per charge.
- We must stay at camp sites within 35 miles from a Supercharger and we must pack light!

The final answer is, “The 2016 Model X P90D can tow a 3,500 lb trailer for about 70 miles on one charge.

Basically, it can make it from one Supercharger to the next on most suburbia routes but it can’t skip any Superchargers in between, and it can’t go across the country.

Buyers Remorse or Opportunity for Faith

That limits our travels to very specific parts of America, which have both Superchargers within 70 miles of each other and camp sites within 35 miles of a Supercharger.

I have to be honest: I was disappointed to look at these numbers. I had read one blog that led me to believe we could go at least 100 miles per charge while towing, but it was not meant to be.

These are the times when I have to remind myself to stand in faith. God’s the one who led us to our EV car and God’s the one who led us to our RV camper. So God gets to lead us to the perfect routes and camp sites for our family in this season. God knows what will fill our hearts with joy and he/she will not disappoint.

I’ll let you know what we discover!

One response to “When Our Tesla Met Our Camper”

  1. […] that are also trailer-friendly. Even though many Teslas can tow between 3,500 and 5,000 lbs (our 2016 Model X 90D can tow 5,000), most Tesla charging stations are not really set up to enable a Tesla that is towing something to […]

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