Model 3 as an RV Toad

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garsh

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#1
Definition: toad - A car or other vehicle that is towed behind motorhomes for use when the motorhome is set up in a campground and connected to utilities. Also called a "dinghy." Fairly common in the United States and Canada, less common in Europe, it becomes a virtual necessity for owners of motor coaches stretching 40 or 45 feet, difficult to maneuver in places like supermarket parking lots.

People with large RVs almost always tow a small vehicle behind them for local use. Although you can use a dolly, and park the car's front tires on the dolly to tow them around, serious RV'ers prefer to "flat tow" - that is, all four wheels on the ground. It's simpler, but the car being towed has to be specially prepared to handle this.

An electric car would be the *perfect* toad. But it would require the manufacturer to create a toad mode to alter the behavior, in addition to the various mechanical changes required.
  • Attachment points on the front for the tow bar.
  • A wiring harness at the front so that the RV can activate the toad's brake lights and turn signals.
  • When the RV brakes, have the toad perform regenerative braking. Might as well charge the battery while also helping the entire rig to slow down.
  • Extra credit bonus points: use autopilot cameras when the rig is running in reverse to steer the toad's wheels to allow backing up the rig to actually work reasonably.
I don't think the toad market is large enough for Tesla to care about it, unfortunately. But if they were to update the software to include a "toad mode", I bet third parties would be willing to create the hardware modifications required. And then Teslas would be *the* vehicle that every RV'er would buy to use as a toad.
 

AEDennis

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#2
Definition: toad - A car or other vehicle that is towed behind motorhomes for use when the motorhome is set up in a campground and connected to utilities. Also called a "dinghy." Fairly common in the United States and Canada, less common in Europe, it becomes a virtual necessity for owners of motor coaches stretching 40 or 45 feet, difficult to maneuver in places like supermarket parking lots.

People with large RVs almost always tow a small vehicle behind them for local use. Although you can use a dolly, and park the car's front tires on the dolly to tow them around, serious RV'ers prefer to "flat tow" - that is, all four wheels on the ground. It's simpler, but the car being towed has to be specially prepared to handle this.

An electric car would be the *perfect* toad. But it would require the manufacturer to create a toad mode to alter the behavior, in addition to the various mechanical changes required.
  • Attachment points on the front for the tow bar.
  • A wiring harness at the front so that the RV can activate the toad's brake lights and turn signals.
  • When the RV brakes, have the toad perform regenerative braking. Might as well charge the battery while also helping the entire rig to slow down.
  • Extra credit bonus points: use autopilot cameras when the rig is running in reverse to steer the toad's wheels to allow backing up the rig to actually work reasonably.
I don't think the toad market is large enough for Tesla to care about it, unfortunately. But if they were to update the software to include a "toad mode", I bet third parties would be willing to create the hardware modifications required. And then Teslas would be *the* vehicle that every RV'er would buy to use as a toad.
I'm not sure if Tesla would be designing the car in this manner, but I seem to remember someone doing something similar in a Leaf and discovered that they were charging the car as it was towed in that manner.

It was a YouTube from 2012 or 2013. I'll have to dig for it.
 

garsh

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#3
Last edited:

Michael Russo

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#4
Definition: toad - A car or other vehicle that is towed behind motorhomes for use when the motorhome is set up in a campground and connected to utilities. (...) Fairly common in the United States and Canada, less common in Europe (...) And then Teslas would be *the* vehicle that every RV'er would buy to use as a toad.
This creative idea from our friend @garsh inspires me two things...:

1. Maybe because I'm European, here I was all this time thinking a toad was this...



Or, at the extreme, having played a lot of Mario Kart with my youngest daughter on her Nintendo Wii years ago, maybe this:


So little did I know...! :D

2. Sure could use a 'toad', and wouldn't it have been great for it to be a Model ≡ (!) as I drive from Acworth, GA to California & back late July!! :cool:
 

UncleMoose

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#5
I sent an email to Tesla a year or 2 ago outlining many of the same points. At the time I was planning to retire (in a year or so from now) with an RV pulling my Model 3.

Now my thinking is that we should be able to put the Model 3 into "baby elephant" mode where it will follow the RV without any physical connection. It should be a logical extension of the Summon feature, where the Model 3 will just follow the RV at (say) 2 car lengths distance, mimicking any turn signals, flashers, brake lights, etc.

Granted, doing it this way will use the car's battery, but it should get pretty good "mileage" since it will be only needing to follow the acceleration and speed pattern of an RV. There might also be an aerodynamic advantage to drafting a larger vehicle.

Legally, you would still probably need to use tow chains for safety reasons, at least until autonomous driving is fully accepted.
 

chopr147

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#7
I sent an email to Tesla a year or 2 ago outlining many of the same points. At the time I was planning to retire (in a year or so from now) with an RV pulling my Model 3.

Now my thinking is that we should be able to put the Model 3 into "baby elephant" mode where it will follow the RV without any physical connection. It should be a logical extension of the Summon feature, where the Model 3 will just follow the RV at (say) 2 car lengths distance, mimicking any turn signals, flashers, brake lights, etc.

Granted, doing it this way will use the car's battery, but it should get pretty good "mileage" since it will be only needing to follow the acceleration and speed pattern of an RV. There might also be an aerodynamic advantage to drafting a larger vehicle.

Legally, you would still probably need to use tow chains for safety reasons, at least until autonomous driving is fully accepted.
I Like it! Or even better, have the car meet you at the RV park and set itself up with a charge before you get there. "Toad meet me at" and give gps and site#
 

Randy

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#10
Here's a weird thought, If a model 3 is autonomously following an RV, would the decrease in draft on the RV (because of a closely following vehicle) lead to a fuel savings in the larger vehicle? I'm not a Nascar guy but I am pretty sure that two cars following each other very closely can go faster than either car can on its own. I would take it that the wind resistance decrease is the reason for that.
Randy
 

AEDennis

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#11
Here's a weird thought, If a model 3 is autonomously following an RV, would the decrease in draft on the RV (because of a closely following vehicle) lead to a fuel savings in the larger vehicle? I'm not a Nascar guy but I am pretty sure that two cars following each other very closely can go faster than either car can on its own. I would take it that the wind resistance decrease is the reason for that.
Randy
I would hate to have the autonomously following Toad Model 3 be so close to the lead vehicle as to garner the savings you are hoping to achieve. As good as the tech is, I still think a safe distance is several car lengths from the lead vehicle.
 

Randy

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#12
AEDennis ;
I get you , comparatively tho a Toad when physically connected is usually extremely close . . Maybe an over the air electronic link between RV and toad to insure toad knows the millisecond RV applies the breaks. I would hate to ding up that front end.The only thing that would really bother me would be the damage from road debris marking up my new beautiful m3. I know they make big screens for such toad vehicals but it would still bother me
Randy
 

AEDennis

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#13
AEDennis ;
I get you , comparatively tho a Toad when physically connected is usually extremely close . . Maybe an over the air electronic link between RV and toad to insure toad knows the millisecond RV applies the breaks. I would hate to ding up that front end.The only thing that would really bother me would be the damage from road debris marking up my new beautiful m3. I know they make big screens for such toad vehicals but it would still bother me
Randy
Vehicle to Vehicle communications is one of the things that folks who develop these things are considering and would be one way to ensure that an autonomously driving vehicle sees traffic "even better" than it does with its own eyes/cameras/radar/LIDAR/etc...

I just figure to send the car on its way and meet you where you're going. If your RV is ICE and the 3 needs to make its charges along the way, just tell it where to go and when it needs to be there to meet you.
 

chopr147

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#14
Drafting the RV will keep the bugs down. One thing I have learned with the Model S is that front end is like one big fly swatter that never misses. I am constantly cleaning bugs off the "grill"
 
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#16
It would be great to have a hybrid Class A motorhome and the Model 3 in a symbiotic relationship going down the road together where either could use or regen the other's batteries. Alas, if we become a full time RV couple soon we may have to give up on the M3 as campgrounds do not have room for motorhome, trailer, and car :-(
 

Brett

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#18
How about just a Tesla RV, I think that would be awesome. Autopilot for the long stretches of road, charge overnight using the campgrounds 220v outlet, no engine noise, no generator (batteries will be big enough). Even stops at superchargers would be painless since you could kick back on the couch next to your fully stocked kitchen.
 

garsh

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#19
How about just a Tesla RV, I think that would be awesome. Autopilot for the long stretches of road, charge overnight using the campgrounds 220v outlet, no engine noise, no generator (batteries will be big enough). Even stops at superchargers would be painless since you could kick back on the couch next to your fully stocked kitchen.
I can easily see a Tesla Semi being converted into an RV by some third party. :)
 

3V Pilot

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#20
A fully autonomous Tesla RV would be perfect but since this thread is about "toad" cars I'll just keep dreaming of the day when Tesla designs an RV like the one below, complete with the next gen roadster underneath. Oh, and while there at it the roadsters batteries should be able to be charged or used to supplement the RV!
 

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