Getting Along Without Just One Electric Sedan, Trailers, & E-Bikes

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Many American couples seem to think that they need two cars and a big “honkin” full-sized pickup truck to address any situation that might come up!

My wife and I get along with 95% of our situations with one car (a dual-motor Tesla Model 3 sedan), a big trailer, a boat trailer, a Saris tray-type bike rack, and an ebike. I borrow a bike trailer if I need to carry more than will fit in my pack. The trunk opening on the Model 3 is small, so I would prefer a Model Y, but it wasn’t available in October 2019 when I purchased my Model 3.

Figure 1: Tesla Model 3 pulling a utility trailer carrying an electric golf cart. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

My Model 3 wasn’t equipped for trailering, so I had a receiver installed at a local U-Haul dealer. The Model 3 is really low, so I have a ball mount with a 6” riser to get a trailer on and off. You might not think the little Model 3 is good for trailering. Observers are really surprised to see my little EV pulling my 3000 lb ski boat out of the water at the boat ramp (see Figure 2). It’s amazing what you can do with two motors and 450 hp total. I can’t even feel the boat when I come up the ramp. The construction of the car and the suspension has to be very strong to support the heavy battery pack. In almost 5 years of doing this, my car is still doing fine.

Figure 2: Smooth as silk, the 3000 lb competition ski boat leaps out of the water in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

I also have a 12-ft trailer that will easily accommodate 4’x 8’ sheets of wallboard or OSB (plywood), or a stack of kayaks and canoes (see Figure 3), or anything else I can think of. It has a built-in ramp so I can even haul a big electric golf cart (see Figure 1).

Figure 3: Friend and utility trailer carrying a load of kayaks in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

EVs are not well suited for making long trips with trailers, but most of my trips are short, so I don’t have a problem. I live on a lake, so my usual trip with the boat is 2 miles round trip from my garage to the boat ramp twice a year. I also have no problem with the 20-mile round trip to my marina for boat service and winterization. We can even make the 96-mile round trip with our load of kayaks and canoes from our house to the Sylvania Wilderness Area near Watersmeet in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (see Figure 3 again).

We also do the 1500-mile trip from Utah to Wisconsin in the spring and back to Utah in the fall with the EV and two big ebikes and back without a problem (see Figure 4). Tesla’s Supercharger system is incredible. Tesla’s Full Self Driving (Supervised) makes the trip a piece of cake for me at age 83+.

Figure 4: Mary and Zuni and our Tesla Model 3 with bikes on the back in Wall, South Dakota. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

We used to have a Toyota Highlander, and I added a rocket box on top and for a few years we pulled a small trailer (see Figure 5). I called that kitchen-sink travel. If you could think of it, you took it.

Figure 5: Our granddaughter, an elk, and our since deceased Toyota Highlander with rocket box and U-Haul trailer at Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Nowadays, if it won’t fit in the Model 3, it doesn’t go. I recently upgraded from a big iMac to a Mac Mini with a tiny 8 TB external SSD drive. I spent $200 each at Amazon for two amazing 32” 4K monitors so that I have one on each end and don’t have to transport one. I intend to buy duplicate bikes for each end so that I don’t have to transport them either. However, I don’t have the $10,000 that would take at the moment.

What about the other 5% that my EV and trailers can’t do? Places like Home Depot, and certainly U-Haul, have trailers and trucks you can rent for that rare occasion when you are picking up something too big for your vehicle. If you are making a 300-mile run to the lake or campground with a big boat or RV trailer every weekend, an EV is probably not ideal. Most EVs don’t have the range to do this easily. Maybe the new Chevy Silverado EV truck with the big battery would work if you have $80,000–$100,000 to spend. However, if this is a once-a-year thing, or a once-every-5-years thing, a rental is better than using your big “honkin” full sized pickup truck to do most of your local driving.

How does the ebike help me get along without the second car? I can do many short errands (up to 20 miles round trip) very easily on the ebike. I wear a pack which will easily hold a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread for those spur-of-the-moment grocery jaunts. If I wanted to carry more routinely, I could buy a bike rack and put on saddle bags. If I wanted to carry even more routinely, an ebike like the one shown in Figure 6 would do the trick. Another option: if you or a neighbor has a kid’s bike trailer, that would work too (see Figure 7). An ebike makes pulling a trailer a piece of cake.

Figure 6: E-biker with kids aboard in Ivins, Utah. Photo by Fritz Hasler.
Figure 7: Daughter biking, granddaughters in bike trailer. Provo River Parkway, Provo, Utah. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Or you could buy a special bike trailer which would allow you to easily pick up a week’s worth of groceries. Just for fun, with a trailer like the guy in Paris is pulling (see Figure 8), you could haul almost anything behind a bike.

Figure 8: Delivery ebike with trailer. Quai St. Michelle, Paris, France. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

I often keep the bike rack on the car so that I can use the bike and car in combination. That way I can drop off a car for my wife to use. I can also do the first leg of my trip by bike and have my wife pick me up if it is raining or if it’s dark for the trip home. I can also call for rescue if I have a flat tire. It will fit, but the big ebike is hard to stuff in the trunk.

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