Caravanning with an Electric Car

OK, I have a caravan, and because I have a caravan I have a big tow car with which to tow it around the country. I make no apologies for that. My Land Rover  Freelander 2 is one of the best 4x4s on fuel economy and as we use the caravan to replace what were one or sometimes two foreign holidays, usually flying, it has resulted in a considerably overall reduced CO2 footprint than we had previously.

Of course, owning a 4×4, any 4×4, is not “green”. Even at its best, when towing, my Freelander will do no more than 27 or 28mpg. When not towing things are much better and we regularly get more than 40mpg on a run.

However, as we also have a Nissan Leaf electric car it occurred to us that it would be great if we could use our caravan with the Leaf instead of the Freelander. If we could then we could sell the Freelander and that would free us up to possibly get a second Leaf (we do need two cars unfortunately) or if we are not comfortable getting a second full EV then perhaps we could get a hybrid or EREV such as the Vauxhall Ampera. Unfortunately the Leaf is not able to tow and so we started to think about how we could caravan with the Nissan Leaf. What we came up with might just work.

Our caravanning for the past couple of years has been sporadic. What with some health issues along with not having as much time as we would like we haven’t used the van as much as we had hoped. This, combined with the fact that when we did use it we tended to not venture out of the West Country much, got us to thinking about perhaps putting the caravan permanently at a single site on what is known as a seasonal pitch. It means that instead of the caravan being stored in a storage compound near our home and us towing the caravan to where we are going to stay, we position the caravan permanently on a single caravan site, permanently on the pitch, and ready to use. No towing would then be required at all.

Some caravanners see seasonal pitches as a bit of a waste. There you are, with a mobile home designed for touring, and we want to position it permanently in one place! But it isn’t as weird an idea as it sounds. Touring is great fun but it has its disadvantages. It is true that you get to see many places, or at least you could if you travelled, yet we seem to spend most of our time returning to the places we like. For us, and for many others, caravanning is not about travel. It is about getting away and having a break, a holiday. So for us the location is not as important as it might be. Then there is the towing. I am OK at towing but I do find it quite stressful and if I could have the caravan without the towing then I for one would enjoy it much more. Motor home? No, we have had a motor home and they are great if travelling around touring but not as good if staying anywhere for any period of time. No, for us the answer seems to be a seasonal pitch.

There are some significant advantages to a seasonal pitch too. We can get to know the area properly and get to see all the attractions and interesting locations there. When touring it is normal only to have a few days at any particular place and so although you do get to visit many places you seldom have time to do them justice. Also, it is often the case that we have just a night or two free and to have to tow the van to a site and set up and then to get ready to leave next day and drive back it simply isn’t worth it. With the caravan already on the pitch and mostly set up it means we can just turn up and use the van almost immediately with little to do next day before leaving. It makes one or two night stays in the van very feasible and so the van should get used much more often.

Seasonal pitches are generally more expensive though but if our plan works out, by using the electric car, not by anything like as much.

So what is the plan? Basically the plan is to move the caravan from its existing storage to a seasonal pitch on a caravan site near Bristol. This site is about a 4hr drive (with 2 fast charges) from our home in the Nissan Leaf. We have spoken to the site owners and they are happy for us to charge the car at the site subject to a sensible surcharge (I have told them to contact Zero Carbon World to get a free charge station). We can then drive the Leaf to use the caravan any time we like and for as long as we like, charging up over night at the site while we stay in the caravan. Touring from the site is then very feasible with us using the caravan as a base. We can easily reach south Wales, the midlands, the south coast and at a push London, all in the electric car and using the caravan as a base. This is a bit of a revelation! Caravaning with an EV! OK, we can’t tow but we really don’t need to.

We are keen cricket fans and as Somerset play at Taunton, just 40 miles from the caravan site, we can use the caravan as a base when going to watch matches and suddenly the seasonal pitch starts to look much more attractive. I can see us becoming members at Somerset Cricket Club and supporting them regularly throughout the summer season and as the ground is just 40 miles from the caravan it is quite possible in the Leaf. I wonder if they would install some EV charging from Zero Carbon World?

So, we have decided to go ahead with this plan. We have now moved the caravan to the site just south of Bristol and we spend our first nights away in the next couple of weeks. Our first trip away will be using the Leaf so I will post a follow up to this when I have done that first trip.

So, it looks like caravanning with an EV is possible… just not towing (yet!).

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