The future of the towcar (crystal ball gazing)

viatorem replied on 14/02/2020 17:15

Posted on 14/02/2020 17:15

There's much discussion on CT regarding the demise of the internal combustion engine and the impact on our hobby.  What would an ideal future look like and could it happen?

There's no doubt that the electric car driven by batteries or fuel cells will become more efficient and cost effective. Will we need a large towcar in the future? Maybe not. What if the same technology used for electric cars is applied to leisure vehicles? A caravan could have a large built in battery both for powering the caravan systems and maybe for providing tractive effort through driven wheels. This would both extend range and reduce the size of electric towcar needed .Maybe there will be a leisure vehicle that is a bridge between caravans and motorhomes. A personal transport towing module integrated fifth wheel style to a camper module, possibly a roof height articulated connection towards the centre of the tow module wheelbase for stability.  Automated detachment and self leveling, water and waste tanks as current motorhomes. 6 or 8 wheels all driven. It could be possible to have power sharing between the batteries in each module so when you go shopping hookup, to  a fast charger then return and top up the camper module thus enabling off grid combined with extensive rooftop solar panels of course.

Just a thought.


JVB66 replied on 14/02/2020 17:20

Posted on 14/02/2020 17:20

The idea of a c/van that can assist when towing is already being tested ,by one of the continental manufacturers,,  but  it is admitted that a change in legislation in most countries would be needed before they are allowed on the highways

rayjsj replied on 15/02/2020 00:21

Posted on 15/02/2020 00:21

OR Alternatively we could end up like Cuba, where after the USA cut them off from the source of spare parts for their 1950/60s cars, they improvised by cannibalising cars and making parts to keep them running, some still are, more than 60 years later. We might have to do that to keep realistic tow-cars and motorhomes running we can't ALL afford very expensive NEW EV's.Or 'assist caravans' that dont even exist yet.

The £60,000 plus Jaguar I Pace in the towcar of the year competition , is a case in point. How many do you see on CMC sites ?   

A 2nd hand diesel Defender with 3 spare engines etc., might be my next car.

,I don't believe in crystal balls.


mickysf replied on 15/02/2020 02:15

Posted on 15/02/2020 02:15

I don't believe in crystal ball gazing but I do believe in innovative forward thinking. They say that failure is the mother of success but what if we fail now to protect the future for our children and their children. Regarding the replacement of ICE vehicles we now have just fourteen years to focus and sharpen our efforts. It can be done but it will mean a total 'C' change in almost every aspect of our vehicular use. Many in my generation may not be ready to make this change. They may not even be around to see the future unless someone invents that crystal ball.

viatorem replied on 15/02/2020 08:12

Posted on 15/02/2020 08:12

The relative cost of EVs will get cheaper as volumes rise as it did with cars in the 20th  the century. Maybe you will rent a towcar when needed or family share a towcar as we already do now.

JohnM20 replied on 15/02/2020 09:39

Posted on 15/02/2020 09:39

May be EVs will come, and then again, they might not do when someone really sits down and considers the 1000s of issues that are going to be a problem. Some may be relatively easy to overcome some will be extremely expensive, (probably more than HS2 Can Britain afford both?), difficult and very disruptive even if the necessary workforce can be found to carry out all the work.

That aside, and to get back to the OP, producing vehicles capable of towing will be at the bottom of the car manufacturers list. Towcars represent a tiny proportion of vehicles on the road so manufacturers aren't even giving them a thought IMO.

We will probably also have to import much of our meat. EVs aren't going to be much use to farmers who have to take livestock to market in substantial trailers and so need a good 4x4. Again a relatively small and unimportant sector of the car manufacturing industry but essential to farmers. They will not be able to carry on producing in the way that they do. Costs will be prohibitive.

Thinking about those of us who go 'over there', will continental campsites be ready for the consumption of far more electricity. I guess many sites will need a complete rewire as power seems very restricted at present on many sites, 6 or 10 amps being very common.

And that is if we can even get 'over there'. Imagine a 200 mile trip to Dover. How many stops along the way to recharge? Once at Dover, where will the charging facilities be? Certainly not at the ferry terminal in my opinion and extremely doubtful if boats would allow charging because of fire risks even if fitting of power supplies was possible for the hundreds of vehicles on board.

Personally I think fuel cell engines are the real way forward. This is where the development energies should be concentrated.The infrastructure needed to supply hydrogen will be much less disruptive than digging up just about every road in Britain and a fuel fill will be about the same time as filling with diesel, petrol of LPG, not the hours needed to recharge a battery. Current petrol stations will just become hydrogen stations. A simplistic view, possibly, but probably a more realistic view.

rayjsj replied on 15/02/2020 16:37

Posted on 15/02/2020 16:37

When Daihatsu ceased selling the 4 Track in the UK most farmers where I live, slowly (over 10years)  started buying crewcab 4x4 pickups to replace them, big turbo diesel engines, 3.5 tonne towing capacity, and even now there are STILL a few old Daihatsu fourtracks trundling off to the livestock markets towing 'Ifor Williams' trailers doing sterling service. Until inevitably their chassis rots. I cannot see ANY EV being capable of taking over, can you ?

OR more importantly being able to to tow a family Caravan of say 1600kg 300miles in a total of 6 hours including stops.I await the 'Towcar of the Year' contests with great anticipation. But I am keeping one eye on what local farmers do, as we have similar requirements of our Vehicles.

ABM replied on 15/02/2020 22:30

Posted on 15/02/2020 22:30

Since " Crystal ball gazing " is concerned  I wonder if there could be a resurgence in the lovely old "Steam cars " that do the rounds I do ??

viatorem replied on 15/02/2020 23:21

Posted on 15/02/2020 23:21

I suspect when early cars hit the streets doubters thought the horse would never be replaced as the prime mover of loads and farm work. Yes horses still have a niche for mobility in certain areas and as museum pieces in some farming applications as do traction and steam engines. The internal combustion engine will eventually  survive as a living memory in the same way  as legislation and public opinion eliminates  fossil fuels from mass use. There will no doubt be some niche where the ICE is the best solution but they will be ultra clean, maybe running on hydrogen.

No,  electric cars are not there yet, when batteries are maybe 3 time the energy density they will be close. The electric machine (motor) is a well developed technology and has distinct advantages in manufacturing, reliability and cost. Charging infrastructure is a challenge but just think what is done now for  petrol and diesel. We expend immense effort and energy to extract oil, transport it halfway round the planet then even more energy to refine it, finally distributing it inefficiently in tankers. If we were just starting out with oil this would look like an impossible task , it just shows how demand is fullfilled by the market. The same will happen with charging stations with the advantage that electricity is a bit more efficient to move. Generating  enough  again supply and demand. Tax hmm that will be interesting!!