Cars

Want an electric car that can tow? Then you need a Polestar 2

The upcoming Polestar 2 electric car will do something its rivals can’t — tow stuff. While most other similarly sized electric cars don’t have manufacturer-rated towing capacity, Polestar claims its first all-electric model will be able to tow up to 3,300 pounds, when properly equipped. A Polestar press release announcing the tow rating did not mention U.S.-spec models, but Green Car Reports subsequently confirmed that the same rating will apply to cars sold here.

The tow rating doesn’t equate to much more than a couple of dirt bikes (as depicted in Polestar press photos), or a small camping trailer, but that’s likely all customers will need. People generally don’t buy small cars (gasoline or electric) for their towing capacity, after all.

The 3,300-pound rating is more than rivals can offer. The Polestar 2 is similar in size to the Nissan Leaf, has a high-riding, pseudo-crossover design like the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric, and a price closer to high-end versions of the Tesla Model 3. Manufacturers do not endorse towing with any of these cars.

If you want to tow with an electric car, you currently need to get a larger crossover. The Tesla Model X is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the Audi E-Tron is rated to tow up to 4,000 pounds. Several automakers are also planning electric pickup trucks, which should have more robust towing capability. Tesla claims its Cybertruck will be able to tow up to 14,000 pounds, for example.

Towing with an electric vehicle presents some challenges. On paper, electric cars should be good tow vehicles because electric motors produce lots of low-end torque. That’s what gets a heavy load moving, which is why truck manufacturers brag about it so much. But towing a trailer can have a major impact on range. Not only does the vehicle use more energy to move, but the trailer creates aerodynamic drag, decreasing efficiency. This isn’t as much of a concern when towing with a gasoline or diesel vehicle, because you can store a lot more energy as liquid fuel than you can as electricity in a battery pack. Even if the tow vehicle is burning substantially more fuel than it would without a trailer, it’s unlikely that the drop in range will be a problem. Most electric car charging stations also aren’t set up to accommodate a vehicle with a trailer attached.

Polestar 2 production starts in 2020, with the first cars earmarked for Europe. In the U.S., the car will have a base price of $63,000. That may seem like a lot for a small car, but it’s a big step down from the $156,000 starting price of the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid coupe.

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