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GM Acknowledges Limited EV Towing Range, Patents Assisted Towing Concept

Towing a trailer can be taxing on the range of a truck or SUV. While it is merely a matter of putting more gas in a gas-powered vehicle, it can ruin a day in the case of an electric vehicle. General Motors is well aware of that and is hard at work to find a solution to the range penalty when using an EV to tow a trailer. A recently filed patent covers specifically this problem.
GM patents assisted towing concept 8 photos
GM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing conceptGM patents assisted towing concept
We’ve seen what towing a trailer can do to an electric vehicle. In the case of a Rivian R1T, this can wipe out half of the normal range, depending on the size and the aerodynamics of the trailer. A gas-powered truck would face a similar problem, but you can always put more gas and keep going. In the case of an electric truck, you need to spend more time charging or even not make it to the next charger, which is annoying, to say the least.

This is why GM searched for a solution and came up with one so good that it thought patenting it would be the right thing to do. The application has been registered with the number US2022/0126714A1 and has a self-explanatory name: battery-electric-vehicle assisted towing concept. What it describes is essentially a self-powered electric trailer that can automatically coordinate with the electric vehicle that tows it.

The system includes a powered trailer with at least one small electric propulsion unit, which “enhances launch of the BEV and provides an acceleration assist,” to the vehicle. Of course, the trailer would have its own battery pack, so it could compensate for the range losses. A communication link between the trailer and the vehicle would make sure the two work in unison to optimize range and performance.

Another neat trick described in the application is a dual-motor configuration for the trailer to allow running the motors at different speeds or even directions. This would enhance maneuverability, especially in the case of the Chevy Silverado EV which has four-wheel steering. And thanks to a hitch angle determination system, the towing vehicle would be able to use automated steering guidance systems when towing a trailer.


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