The Tesla Model 3 Long Range Rear Wheel Drive has a curb weight of 3,814lb, with the sticker in the drivers door area stating a GVWR 4,806lb.

Tesla began offering a tow hitch option in EU recently and states a 960kg (2006.21lb) towing capability.

I must be missing something here though; How can a car that is 1,000 lbs shy of it's maximum weight, tow twice that in a trailer behind (without even taking into account the weight of people in the car and their cargo)?

I have also read about tongue weight, which I presume is not what is talked about in relation to GVWR, but some other rating that takes into account the weight on the rear axle, but also the pulling force needed at different largely self supported weights (by the trailer's tires), correct?

2 Answers 2


As to your first question: because the entirety of the car's GVWR is carried wholly by the car's suspension. Most of the weight of a trailer is carried by the trailer's wheels and suspension, and not by the towing car's. GVWR excludes trailer weight, although GVW (the actual weight of the car and its load) should include the trailer's tongue weight.

As to your second question: a car may easily be able tow a trailer of greater weight than the car's. In practice this will depend upon a) the trailer's tongue weight, b) the structure of the hitch and its connection to the car body, c) the strength of the car's structure, d) the car's engine (power and torque), e) the gearing of car's transmission and differential, f) the weight of the trailer, g) the size and type of the car's wheels and tires, and h) having suitable brakes on the trailer. (Thanks to @Solar Mike here)

  • 2
    And having suitable brakes on the trailer...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 14, 2019 at 5:13

There are several numbers involved here - you've got the kerb weight (how much the car itself weighs, ready to go, but unladen), and the gross vehicle weight (GVW) - how much the car can weigh fully laden, i.e including driver, passengers and load.

How much you can tow is defined by the gross train weight (GTW) - this is the maximum total weight of the car, plus it's load, plus the trailer, plus it's load. There's a number of factors that determine this - @David defines these quite well in his answer, though as well as the technical factors he lists, there's also legal factors in many places - for example in the UK we have a maximum gross weight of 750kg for any unbraked trailer.

The biggest factor generally is not the ability to move the weight, but the ability to control and stop it - you often see publicity stunts with cars pulling huge weights like aircraft or trains, but they're only ever at very low speed in a controlled environment!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .