EV Nomads: Tesla Model 3 doing lap of Australia towing a caravan
By Sourced Externally
January 7, 2024
As told by Atto Gal and Gandalf – from somewhere in the Aussie Outback.
It has been demonstrated repeatedly that electric cars can travel the vast distances required to circumnavigate the Australian mainland, with the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia keeping records of EV drivers who have successfully completed “the big lap” since 2011.
The tally currently stands at 31 laps completed, with a couple of repeat offenders, including one lap that was completed in the space of just 10 days in 2023.
After hearing some of the fantastic pioneering EV stories first hand, a Perth couple with an adventurous spirit – thought they might like to try their hand at this pioneering business for ourselves, but what would be the challenge? All but one highway in WA has been driven by an EV, so it seemed that there was little left to do, everything had been done already.
One Sunday in August, after a busy day transporting trailer loads of horse manure about with a Tesla Model 3, and probably too many glasses of wine, the challenge seemed obvious!
What better way to break the myth that an EV “won’t tow ya caravan” (or boat), and will “ruin ya weekend” than to use the Model 3 to tow a caravan around a big lap!
Having had some experience using the standard range model 3 Tesla to tow a box trailer reasonably long distances (Perth-Albany-Perth), it was fairly obvious that to make some of the longer legs (over 280km uphill) possible in a reasonable timeframe, the caravan would need to be very aerodynamic, preferably with the ability to also charge the car in the event the car battery was not quite enough to make the distance to the next charge stop.
Starting out with a 1986 Cub Drifter purchased from Facebook Marketplace, they set about making a few minor modifications, but, as with all ambitious projects, the modifications grew in scope, and large portions of the van were replaced with much lighter components.
This allowed for the addition of air conditioning, a king-sized bed, a substantial battery pack, and 830W of solar panels, all under the 750kg weight limit for the caravan.
Using the knowledge gained while working as an engineer with Zenith Energy, building some of Australia’s largest islanded (standalone) hybrid power stations, the caravan became a mobile renewable power station.
It has the ability to store almost 16kWh of energy (which can be replenished by either the solar panels, a regular wall outlet, or a 15A caravan park socket) which can be used to charge the car at up to a rate of 5kW when off grid, or 7kW when in a caravan park.
On learning of the plan to set off on Boxing Day, 2023, and to demonstrate their commitment to the energy transition, Zenith Energy kindly offered to make a small financial contribution towards the trip costs.