Electric vehicle towing: Lexus explains

Electric vehicle towing

Lexus explains… is a series designed to explain features, technologies and user questions related to modern vehicles. Each article provides clear, jargon-free answers, helpful tips and resources, as well as Lexus products or services that can help along the way. This article aims to answer some of the questions surrounding electric vehicle towing.

Electric vehicle towing: context

The installation of a tow bar has always been a practical and popular vehicle accessory. Though primarily seen as a means of towing a caravan or trailer, tow bars are increasingly being used as a secure mounting point for other lifestyle-related accessories, such as cargo platforms and bike racks.

But while the majority of internal combustion engine vehicles offer some level of towing capacity, the same cannot be said for electric vehicles. For that reason, owners may wonder whether their EV is capable of having a tow bar fitted; and if it is, what effect towing or the attaching of accessories to the tow hook will have on the vehicle’s range?

We hope our answers to the following FAQs will help to alleviate your concerns:

Electric vehicle towing

Is it possible to tow with an electric vehicle?

If your EV has been engineered to tow and has been officially approved (homologated) to do so in the country of its registration, then the answer to the above question is yes. The number of new electric vehicles that are able to tow is increasing, but such official approval is based on the vehicle being able to safely manage the additional weight.

Generally speaking, electric vehicles are heavier than internal combustion engine vehicles due to the size and weight of their battery packs. Manufacturers therefore have to ensure that the combined weight of the vehicle and towed trailer does not overwhelm the brakes, electric motor/s and regenerative braking system.

Based on the above factors, many older electric vehicles were never developed with the ability to tow. But as EV technology matures, safety margins are increasing and weight management is improving, which in turn is leading to a greater number of new electric vehicles that are homologated to tow.

What is my electric vehicle legally allowed to tow?

Assuming that your EV has been homologated to tow, the vehicle identification number (also known as VIN) plate will clearly display either three or four sets of kilogramme figures. In most modern Lexus cars, the full VIN plate is printed on a tamper-proof sticker located just inside the shut line of the front nearside door. Reading from top to bottom, these weights represent the following:

⦁ Gross vehicle weight – the maximum mass of the vehicle including occupants, fuel and load

⦁ Gross vehicle train weight – the combined maximum mass of the vehicle and trailer. If your VIN reads zero in this category, then it is not approved for towing

⦁ Maximum load values across the front and rear axles respectively

⦁ Maximum towing capacity – usually calculated by deducting the gross vehicle weight from the gross vehicle train weight

The last safety-related factor to be aware of is nose weight. This refers to the maximum load that can be exerted vertically on the tow bar by the trailer, caravan or tow bar mounted attachment. This figure, which can be found in the owner’s manual, is established by the manufacturer in order to maintain a safe level of traction and steering through the front wheels in all circumstances.

Learn more: Towing capacities of all current production Lexus models

How is EV range affected by towing?

The economy of any vehicle, irrespective of how it is fuelled or powered, is negatively affected by towing. In the case of an electric vehicle, adding weight and reducing aerodynamic efficiency through towing puts greater strain on the electric motors, which in turn will draw on the battery’s reserves at a faster rate. This means that the battery will have to be recharged more frequently than usual.

It is important to note that manufacturers are only allowed to publish the combined energy consumption figures of a vehicle in isolation, based on a strict, laboratory-controlled efficiency cycle. So while there is no official information available on how much EV range is affected by towing, the general consensus is that it can reduce the vehicle’s range by some 40-50%, though this is still dependent on climate and driving style.

Electric vehicle towing


There is no doubt that installing a tow hook increases the functionality and lifestyle-related activities of a vehicle. However, the additional weight associated with towing will always have a negative impact on the tow vehicle’s efficiency, regardless of how it is fuelled or powered.

For early EVs, especially those adapted from existing internal combustion engine models, towing was often an engineering adaption too far. But as technology has improved and new cars developed from the ground-up as EVs reach production, manufacturers are now able to engineer in broader safety margins that often allow at least a measure of towing ability.

The only other thing EV drivers should be aware of is that public charging stations may not have the room to accommodate both vehicle and trailer. It may be necessary to unhitch your caravan or trailer before parking in the recharging bay.

Do you have experience of electric vehicle towing, or have any further advice to share?
Please let us know in the comment box below.

Read more: Lexus explains – electric vehicle charging
Read more: Lexus explains – electric vehicle range
Read more: Lexus explains – electric vehicle costs
Read more: Lexus explains – electric vehicle safety
Read more: Lexus explains – driving an electric vehicle in Europe


  1. Great article especially explaining the jargon of the VIN plate

    Could you also confirm in the UK do we still need to write the details of the VIN plate to be mounted in a window to be externally visible? Always seamed a bit pointless but previously you legally restricted on speed if you didnt

    I have an NX450h+ and would like to know the implications of towing on the electric drive train and is it ok to tow in EV mode for instance. How would the diver know the electric train is being worked too hard? With an IC engine it gets hot but no such feedback for the EV system

    1. Hello David, thanks for your question.

      Our Technical Team have advised that as part of an MOT test/check, the VIN number needs to be legibly displayed on the vehicle. Normally, checks are done at the VIN plate on the vehicle.

      Please may you provide your Vehicle Registration so that we can check the second part of your question.


  2. Purchased a brand new RX450h, took delivery in October 2022. A factory fitted tow kit was an option I chose. Questions :- Is there a requirement by law to have additional visual and or audible notification that the indicator lamp is working on any trailer / caravan / cycle rack light board? I can’t see or hear any. So used to having it on previous SUV offering confirmation of indicator before making a manoeuvre.

    Also is there a mode to view from rear camera when driving forward?

    1. Hello Kevin, thanks for your question.

      The car is only capable of checking the lights fitted to the vehicle and not on a trailer attachment. However, it is the driver’s responsibility to visually check that the trailer lights are working correctly before making any journeys.

      In regards to your second question, our Product Team have advised that the panoramic view monitor cameras can be viewed when the car is driving forward, but only at low speeds.

      Hope this helps.


      1. Thank you team Lexus for a prompt response . You have answered in part in that there is no facility to see or hear any trailer or att indicators, and of course it is my responsibility to check before setting off, however do Lexus vehicles fully comply with UK / DVLA regulations re this question. Not implying you’re not would just like confirmation from manufacturer.

        Best regards

  3. Suggest that you change the title of this article to “Towing with an electric vehicle”. Current title made me think it would be about the precautions needed when towing an EV.

    My understanding of the latter is that EVs should not be towed if the wheels on the road are connected to the regeneration or drive systems; can you please confirm whether that’s correct?

    1. Hello Robert, thanks for your feedback.

      Our Technical Team have confirmed that your understanding is correct.


  4. What coupler/adapter do I need to connect to my trailer with the standard uk fitting? I have a screw in 7 pin adapter but that will not attach ?

    1. Hi Nick, thanks for your comment.

      We can’t advise without seeing the vehicle in person, your local Lexus Centre is best placed to do this.
      Although it is likely a 13 pin push in plug.


      Lexus UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *