Hitches for non-bicycle use.. towing trailers. - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 62 (permalink) Old 12-14-2017, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Hitches for non-bicycle use.. towing trailers.

Anybody out there actually towing? Any advice? I might want a hitch, but not just for bicycles. I think I read one post where it was reported that range dropped significantly, which would be fine with me. But that is all I came across.

Anybody with anything to share about Bolt towing? A 200hp 266 torque 3500 pound vehicle.. I mean I know there will be naysayers, but given these specs the only issue I could see is maybe a structural one.

I personally have towed plenty of weight with less power and less torque before.
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post #2 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 05:19 PM
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https://oppositelock.kinja.com/tow-m...611/1609771499 discusses why towing big trailers with small cars is common in Europe, but not in the US.

Basically, if you try to tow with a car and a trailer set up European style (with lower tongue weight), you need to stay within a low speed limit to be safe (many European countries have 80 km/h = 50 mph speed limits while towing). From the linked article:

Higher tongue weight, stable at 100 mph:


Lower tongue weight, becomes unstable at 65 mph:


Of course, higher tongue weight creates other issues for small FWD cars, so larger RWD or AWD vehicles tend to handle it better.
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post #3 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 06:01 PM
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The manual says the vehicle is not designed for towing. at all. Not that I'm telling you not to, just what the manual says.
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post #4 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 06:46 PM
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I'll be using mine for home store runs in town and the like, Torklift finally shipped my 2" hitch receiver yesterday, they are slow plus the holidays I assume... I have a little HF 4x8 utility trailer I used with my old car. I don't plan to do any highway towing with the car, just in-town pick up for sheet goods, appliances, that kind of thing. I briefly thought about a little teardrop camping trailer, but I think with the short wheelbase I'll just use one of those SUV/car tents for any mini camping outings for now. I do plan to build a nice little cargo box for the back eventually that will use the hitch attachment point for extra gear storage.
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post #5 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I have read about the Euro vs USA differences before. I do understand about the reasons.

Right BlackBolt, that is what I had in mind, a small light utility trailer for hauling 50 to 500 pounds of cargo. Plywood, mulch, a dirtbike maybe. I'd like to be able to hit the freeway..

I guess its a no go then, I'm not going to risk getting sued over this.
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post #6 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 11:38 PM
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transmission gear ratio and braking components

Surely there has to be some concern about the transmission and braking components when towing? Towing requires a gear ratio that is appropriate to towing up and down hills, rather than acceleration. Its my impression that the transmission gear ratio is a compromise between performance on hills, and acceleration, and if you add the weight of a trailer then the gear ratio must change to maintain the correct hill performance. Further, as the regen braking on the Bolt EV is likely set up to brake only the weight of the car, its highly likely it will not perform at all the same when towing. This will cause increased use of the friction brakes, and then questions about their capabilities.

I am sure towing a few hundred pounds will be fine, if intelligently done, but beyond that is likely a big deal. Its amazing how much the weights of trailers vary, for example. If you rent even a quite small u-haul trailer you are looking at upwards of 1000 lbs before you load up the trailer. This will create 100 lbs tongue weight, or more depending on the trailer.

Personally, I am waiting for an electric mini-van or SUV that can do about 3000 lbs towing, rather than risking wear and tear, and safety issues with my Chevy Bolt EV.
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post #7 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 12:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hatchy View Post
Right BlackBolt, that is what I had in mind, a small light utility trailer for hauling 50 to 500 pounds of cargo. Plywood, mulch, a dirtbike maybe. I'd like to be able to hit the freeway..

I guess its a no go then, I'm not going to risk getting sued over this.
Don't be a wimp!

My Prius is rated to tow nothing, and I pulled a yard of dirt (I'm told 1800 lbs). I regularly tow a jetski weighing a couple hundred pounds; probably 400 with trailer. I've got a Torklift hitch, which I prefer due to the square receiver being the only part visible.

Use good judgement when towing and you'll be fine.

Harbor Freight folding trailer. Repacked bearing grease, but other than that stock.




Give me absolute safety, or give me death!

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post #8 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:37 AM
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Same exact setup we had, right down to the gray Prius, but ours was an older '08 model with a 1.25" receiver. I wouldn't be too concerned with a couple thousand pounds behind most any small car in good repair, and the Bolt has a couple of pluses and a few minuses a as tow car.

Plus:
  • Weight
  • Power
  • Short rear overhang
  • Regen Braking
Minus:
  • Wheelbase
  • Weight distribution
  • Gearing
As long as you're pulling less kW continuously than the car alone running up the side of the Rockies at 85mph, your not putting any more stress on the vehicle drivetrain-wise than someone with a fat family who lives in the western mountain regions and drives briskly. I think it should take about 40kW extra to move a max GVWR Bolt up a 9% grade at 85mph vs level, as a quick example. Having a low gear would be nice if you were starting off on grade.

The springs likewise will see no greater impact than a lone car with four fatties in it, unless you load over the 2,258 lb rear GAWR with the tongue weight added in. The short wheelbase give the front end less leverage to keep the front tires planted, but conversely the short overhang gives the tongue weight less leverage to lift/unload the front end. Short wheelbases also tend to get a bit more bucky bronco over the highway seams, and they put more lateral load on the rear tires in cornering vs. longer cars. The more even weight distribution the Bolt has is a minor annoyance for towing, as a front heavy car would put more of the mass over the front axle, helping to counteract tongue weight effects.

Other than that, if you exceed the GVWR with the total weight of the rig, you need to slow down to maintain brake fade performance, or install trailer brakes. There is no special engineering that goes into making small general purpose passenger vehicles tow rated, just a series of calculations that are done to come up with ratings based on some arbitrary formula - based on what the formula writer thought the average driver would drive like in that sales market. In the US we now use SAE J2807, which is fairy new and has the average American driver idiocy factored in. Obviously if you are going 5 mph, you can tow several tens of thousands of pounds with a Bolt (or a bicycle with the right gearing for that matter) all day long every day without issue, as long as you have a way to bring it to a stop.
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Last edited by BlackBolt; 01-10-2018 at 03:04 AM. Reason: added regen - such a nice bonus!
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post #9 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by rgmichel View Post
Its my impression that the transmission gear ratio is a compromise between performance on hills, and acceleration
I would think, both hill performance and acceleration ask for a 'short' gear ratio. So, why would this require a compromise?

It is all about torque at the wheels, and looking at our 0 - 100 (or 60 if you like) times, I guess we have plenty of that My Outlander PHEV needs more than 11 seconds to reach 60 MPH, weighing about the same as the Bolt. So, torque at the wheels must be less. Yet, it is allowed to tow 1500 kg (in Europe, that is).
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post #10 of 62 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 11:12 PM
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The Mrs. and I installed the 2" Torklift hitch tonight. They still don't have the holes lined up right on the welding jig or whatever they use, or they might also be warping from the heat of welding to the cross bar. I enlarged 4 out of the 6 holes with a plasma cutter to get a nice slip fit to the bumper studs. She laid out the bumper fascia cut lines and I did the trimming with a jigsaw. The whole job was pretty easy, but I think we spent about an hour and a half by the time we cut the mounting holes to fit - I had to carry it back in and out of the shop half a dozen times, cutting a little at a time to get it all lined up just so.

It's a really nice unit, but they need to do more QA on these before they leave the factory. Shipping weight said it was 41 lbs. It's got a really tough textured powder coat on it too, I filed some off for starting my plasma cuts and it was very hard stuff to remove! I'm going to appreciate having that beefy 2" receiver opening when I make up my cargo box later on.
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