Which pure electric vehicles can tow and take a roof rack? 

A reader wants an electric car, but wonders if there are any that she can use to can tow a bike trailer and transport canoes on the roof...

Audi E-tron at Ionity electric car charging station

Please can you advise me if there's an electric car that can carry a kayak on its roof and a bike carrier on a towbar? I think that some electric cars cannot have a towbar fitted, and I understand that the additional load will affect the range, but I'm just wondering whether there are any that would be suitable?

Fiona Monk

What Car? says…

Although most electric cars will cope with the additional weight of a couple of kayaks on the roof, the stumbling block for many will be the ability to tow a trailer or attach a cycle carrier. Some can’t have a towbar because there's nowhere for it to be fitted and others simply don’t have the capacity to tow. 

A simple way to check whether a car is allowed to tow is to check the V5 registration document or the VIN plate on the car. If these have maximum towing weights on them, the car is allowed to tow, if not, it can't. On cars where a towbar can be fitted, it's important to check that the weight of your bike carrier, when laden, doesn't exceed the car's maximum nose weight figure. This will usually be found in the owner's manual.

As you say, towing a cycle carrier will adversely affect the car’s range, so if it’s something you’re going to do often, we’d recommend that you look at a conventional hybrid or plug-in hybrid instead. However, if it’s just for occasional use then there are some good options available. 

Volvo XC40 Electric concept

Two electric family SUVs can tow: the Mazda MX-30 and Volvo XC40 Recharge. The Mazda can tow a braked trailer weighing up to 1300kg and the Volvo up to 1800kg. Our preferred choice out of these two is the XC40 because it has an appealing interior, rapid performance, impressive safety credentials and an official range of 260 miles between charges (the MX-30 has only 124 miles).

However, the introductory trim level costs just under £60,000, and that makes it more expensive than the Tesla Model 3 Performance executive car and close in price to larger, premium SUVs like the Audi E-tron and Jaguar I-Pace, which both offer better overall electric car packages. If you want an electric XC40, we’d recommend waiting for cheaper trims to arrive in 2021.

Jaguar I-Pace front and side

If the luxury electric SUVs are within your price range, both the E-tron and I-Pace can tow a cycle trailer. The Jaguar is our preferred model out of this pair because it has entertaining handling and a real-world 250-mile range, while the Audi’s range is around 150 miles.  

However, the Audi’s upper towing capacity is better at 1800kg, whereas the Jaguar’s is only 750kg, so this may make the Audi a more appealing choice for you.   

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here