Cybertruck Tripping in Australia

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We want to dispel some FUD and have a lot of fun at the same time. Colin Stiff recently told me how he towed his teardrop caravan from Yeppoon to Sydney for an early “surprise” viewing of the Tesla Cybertruck. He went Cybertruck tripping.

Cybertruck Tripping in Australia
Not as big as I thought. Photo courtesy Colin Stiff.

We are frequently told: “You can’t tow a caravan with that!” and “There are no electric utes in the world.” Words that sometimes come out of the mouths of Australia’s conservative politicians. So, Colin and his wife, Susan, set out to disprove the naysayers, towing their Tucana teardrop van behind a Tesla Model 3 Long Range the 1500 km (1000 miles) to Sydney, New South Wales. By comparison, readers might like to refer to previous towing stories. Here’s one about a two-ton boat.

The original plan was to drive just from Yeppoon to Brisbane for their daughter’s university graduation, then have a look around the northern rivers of NSW. Then they saw the announcement that the Cybertruck was in Sydney on display for a month. Colin was willing to wait for the Cybertruck to come to Brisbane, but Susan set up a surprise. “We got impatient and decided to go to Sydney. I have had a reservation for five years. It was only a $150 deposit and well worth it,” Colin tells me.

It took Colin two days to do the drive from Yeppoon to Brisbane (675 km). His normal driving range (450 km) was halved due to towing the van. The Tucana van weighs 850 kg. The car handled the weight easily. Colin collected some stats that will interest the technically minded: “The car used an average of 320 wh/km when towing. Normally, without the van, it uses 175 wh/km. The best we did with the van on was 260, the worst was 360 wh/km. Not only were we towing, but we also had a headwind.”

Colin experimented with different cruising speeds: “One day I sat on 90 km per hour for the 200 km stretch. Then the next day I drove at 80 km per hour. I used less power at 80 km per hour than I had at 90 km per hour. But probably annoyed more people.” Colin’s Tesla has a lift kit fitted which raises the car 40mm and produces more drag, and also has larger tyres — 235/45 R19.

I asked about charging with a van attached. He told me that “I had to take the van off 75% of the time to charge the car.” Was this a bit of an inconvenient process? “Well, the more often you do it, the quicker it gets. If no one else is there, you can park across and access the chargers.” See photo below. Although more charger stations are being built to accommodate EV drivers who tow, there is still a bit of a dearth. Colin told me about one he uses in Calliope near Gladstone. This Supercharger has one charger out of 8 allocated for towers. You can drive in forwards — but you have to drive in and back out, but don’t have to disconnect. The other 7, you have to reverse in.

Cybertruck tripping
Creative solutions to the charging conundrum. Photo courtesy Colin Stiff.

As you would expect, Colin and Susan had a lot of interesting conversations at the charging stations and caravan parks where they stopped to rest and “fill up.” At times, they felt like they were a “mobile data bank.” There was lots of interest from fellow campers. While they were setting up, people came over and exclaimed “That’s amazing you’re towing your van with a Tesla!” or “My daughter/ son has a Tesla, but I didn’t know you could tow!”

As they were maneuvering their van into place, they had to be aware that the curious onlookers could not hear the car, and thus had to take great care. When Colin request charging at a powered caravan site, the answer was always positive. He paid from $30 to $67 per night for a powered site with no extra charge for plugging in the Tesla.

Cybertruck Tripping
Had to be creative to charge. Photo courtesy Colin Stiff.

And the surprise? They had originally only planned to go to Brisbane, but Susan had planned a surprise. The cat was out of the bag when Steve (TOCA committee member) rang to explain the viewing protocol for the Cybertruck in Tesla’s Parramatta showrooms in Sydney. It is hard to keep secrets when the car answers the phone for you. Susan laments: “Colin always finds out when I have organised a surprise for him!”

Susan and Colin have driven from Brisbane to Sydney before (it’s about another 1000 km). “Three years ago, every other Tesla driver would madly wave to you. Now that Tesla’s are common, people have stopped doing it. However, the driver of a white Model Y waved, probably because he was towing a tandem cage trailer.”

They arrived in Sydney at lunchtime, which meant that “traffic was light, so had a good run navigating with Tesla. Our friends are only 10 mins from the showroom at Parramatta.” I asked about their reactions on first seeing the Cybertruck in person: “It was just like going to night club. Two security guards stood on each side and they registered us on an iPad. There was no lineup because it was the second week of display. A steady stream of customers came to view the car. We spent 2 hours in the showroom thoroughly checking out the Cybertruck. I even got down and looked underneath.”

Cybertruck tripping
Up close and personal with the Tesla Cybertruck. Photo courtesy Colin Stiff.

“After all the hype, I was expecting a huge monster truck like a RAM or a Silverado. My first thought was, yes, this will fit in my carport and driveway. I was expecting to have to build a shed just to fit it in. I’m still planning to build a shed, as I only have accommodation for one car at home. But it won’t have to be such a big shed. The Cybertruck on display was set at its highest suspension level.”

“Unfortunately, we were not allowed in the truck because of an incident in the previous week. Tesla had limited access. There were about 6–10 people around the truck at any time. We had lots of chats with other customers about what they are driving. One man was an engineer and was downsizing from two ICE cars to one EV. Did the math and ended up with two Teslas — 3 and Y. The money saved made it doable.”

It’s too bad Colin and Susan had missed the special TOCA member event by one week when they would have been allowed to enter the truck.

Cybertruck tripping
Can’t get too many photos of that Cybertruck. Photo courtesy Colin Stiff.

While at the showroom, they took the opportunity to examine the Model 3 Highland Performance model. The Tesla showroom is situated in the car sales district of Parramatta — so Colin checked out other car showrooms, especially Subaru’s. He found sales staff were keen and knowledgeable about the Solterra EV. Colin has a history with Subaru. “My other car is an Outback H6 and I have owned a WRX and a Forester.”

A drive in Sydney would not be complete without being rear ended. Colin’s tow bar got pushed into the rear of the car. The car was drivable (the petrol-powered culprit not so), but it made it difficult to attach the van. A bit of bush mechanic work with a hacksaw and they were on the road again on the return journey to Yeppoon.

Colin and Susan revisited the chargers they had used on their southern journey, as they knew where to park to access them with ease. They travelled at night and discovered that Tesla Superchargers are much cheaper (39 cents per kWh vs 84 cents per kWh). Our readers will be glad to know that Susan, Colin, the Model 3, and the van made it safely home. The Tesla has been assessed by the insurers and is awaiting repairs at Beau Murphy’s in Rockhampton.

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