Mastedon
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:17 pm

Using the i3 to Tow

Sat Sep 12, 2020 7:15 pm

We are looking to install the TorkLift hitch on our 2015 i3 and want to know if anyone else has installed a hitch, what brand, any problems, and what kind of harness did you use.

As the dealer mentioned, the i3 is not designed for towing and we get that. We like to go biking and want to use our bike rack on this vehicle. I've typically just bought a trailer lighting harness and installed it into existing wiring on our other cars. But I want to find out if the BMW harnesses for other models are specially designed to "plug-and-play" and would work on this vehicle. I don't want to install the TorkLift harness which is apparently a voltage sensor type system which does not require splicing into exiting wires.

Any other tips would be appreciated.

Obioban
Posts: 100
Joined: Wed May 22, 2019 6:16 am

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:51 am

I have the etrailer hitch with a bike rack. Works well, no issues.

I also am fine with towing a small trailer short distances if useful. Hitch is rated for 2000 lbs of towing-- perfect for moving a lawn mower, etc.

bwilson4web
Posts: 778
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:59 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Sat Jan 09, 2021 5:07 am

Has anyone seen a trailer wiring kit?

I have the receiver and a small, Harbor Freight trailer. But I really need running, stop, and turn signal lighting.

Bob Wilson
20k/27k mi 2014 BMW i3-REx
10k/10k mi 2017 Prius Prime

User avatar
MKH
Gold Member
Posts: 833
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:53 am

Has anyone seen a trailer wiring kit?
Torklift has a kit that is supposed to work with the i3 I know that a year or so ago an i3 owner posted details of his trailer hitch installation (Facebook group, I think), complete with working light wiring, but that part of the install was not in much detail.

https://torkliftcentral.com/rving-and-t ... l-s-119251
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 19 inch 427 wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

bwilson4web
Posts: 778
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:59 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:55 am

Excellent! I'll contact them on Monday. But my need is immediate.

So let's see if these images come through:
https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/0WC- ... _wires_010

https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/03uo ... _wires_020

https://www.icloud.com/iclouddrive/0-6E ... es_030jpeg

A quick kludge, power come from the 12V aux port and feeds the 4-wire trailer cable. The toggle switch allows manual enabling of turn signal lights. The running lights are always on. The stop light requires a pair of diodes but our load is low enough the I3 lights should work.

I'll check my junk box and perhaps put together a simple, next generation box for a permanent installation. It is always nice to have trailer with the dimensions of a pickup truck bed.

Bob Wilson
20k/27k mi 2014 BMW i3-REx
10k/10k mi 2017 Prius Prime

alohart
Posts: 2401
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:36 pm
Location: Honolulu, HI

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Sun Jan 10, 2021 11:23 am

bwilson4web wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:55 am
It is always nice to have trailer with the dimensions of a pickup truck bed.
I would be concerned by the lack of strong attachment points on an i3. Unfortunately, the i3's aluminum frame apparently doesn't extend far enough to the rear of the car to provide strong attachment points.

I believe a tow kit is available for your Model 3 (maybe only in Europe). If so, that would almost certainly be a better tow vehicle.
Aloha,
Art

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

JASmith
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:40 pm

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Tue Mar 02, 2021 1:07 am

Obioban wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:51 am
I have the etrailer hitch with a bike rack. Works well, no issues.

I also am fine with towing a small trailer short distances if useful. Hitch is rated for 2000 lbs of towing-- perfect for moving a lawn mower, etc.
I know almost nothing about EVs, but am not new to towing. The limiting factor on your hitch is going to be your tongue weight, and it probably can't handle more than 200lbs, unless that's what you meant to say.

The shorter the wheelbase and more rear biased the weight of the vehicle, the more tongue weight you need to be stable at speed so you'd want close to 15%. The i3 also has really skinny tires though, and I'd be surprised if you also don't end up overloading them if you tried anything close to 2K lbs. Lastly there's a matter of heat dissipation which can be a big issue, and that could overtax the vehicle.

I'd just rent a uhaul truck when needed, they aren't expensive, and it'd only be expensive if you're towing often at which point I'd trade in the i3 for a little Passport or something like that.

IMO its silly to mount a giant hunk of metal on the back of the vehicle anyway when BMW went to such extreme lengths to shave every pound possible, even putting in less speakers than expected, even if just carrying bicycles. I'd get yourself one of the temporary bike rack mounts that go on the back so you can remove it when not needed.

eXodus
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:06 am

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:38 pm

JASmith wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 1:07 am
Obioban wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:51 am
I have the etrailer hitch with a bike rack. Works well, no issues.

I also am fine with towing a small trailer short distances if useful. Hitch is rated for 2000 lbs of towing-- perfect for moving a lawn mower, etc.
I know almost nothing about EVs, but am not new to towing. The limiting factor on your hitch is going to be your tongue weight, and it probably can't handle more than 200lbs, unless that's what you meant to say.
American Trailers with their crazy tongue weights....

My German Horse Trailer - 4000lbs has a tongue weight of 100lbs. (50kg) (any random VW Golf-sized car can tow that one)

My US Horse Trailer - 5000lbs has a tongue weight of 800lbs (you need a Fullsize Pickup to tow that)


Both trailers tow fine. Just the US setup needs like 3x as much fuel.

JASmith
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:40 pm

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:32 pm

eXodus wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:38 pm
American Trailers with their crazy tongue weights....

My German Horse Trailer - 4000lbs has a tongue weight of 100lbs. (50kg) (any random VW Golf-sized car can tow that one)

My US Horse Trailer - 5000lbs has a tongue weight of 800lbs (you need a Fullsize Pickup to tow that)

Both trailers tow fine. Just the US setup needs like 3x as much fuel.
European tow standards are basically unsafe, and you regularly see tiny vehicles towing much too large of trailers there with brake or transmission failures up hills or loss of control at speed, its pretty silly. Saw a Fiat 500 once towing a camper! If you're going 20mph on a level grade, fine, but there is a reason that tow ratings are so much different in the US as ours are, you know, actually safe for yourself and other drivers on highways and hills.

Not that more is better, but this demonstrates why US standards may lower fuel economy and put more load on the vehicle but are inherently more stable, especially important on a vehicle that has a short wheelbase and is already tail heavy compared to most:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mW_gzdh6to

Pahaska
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:49 am

Re: Using the i3 to Tow

Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:28 pm

Some years ago, I was using my Chevy Blazer to tow a stock trailer occupied by a 1500# bull. The shotgun trailer had a moveable gate at the fore and aft center. I put the bull in the front section and secured the gate with a piece of fence wire since the latch was broken.

At about 50 miles per hour, the gate came open and the bull decided to move to the rear of the trailer. I used both lanes and both shoulders before I got the Blazer under control. Thankfully, no one was coming toward me and I still had a fighter pilot's reactions in those days.

That is what a lack of tongue weight will do. I would not want just 40# on the hitch in anything bigger than a luggage trailer.

I don't think the I3 should be used for anything bigger than a bike rack.

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