Can a Tesla Pull a Plane? A Surprising Yes!

In 2018, Tesla shocked the whole world when it successfully pulled a Qantas Airlines Boeing 787, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Some critics pointed out that it was an easy feat since the plane was empty and there was very little fuel in its tank. Others—the enthusiasts of electric vehicles—celebrated the moment, acknowledging the prowess of this Tesla beast. But can a Tesla tow a plane?

Yes, depending upon the size and weight of the plane, Tesla Model cars can do the job. If the plane is small, say it is an ultralight aircraft, Tesla cars can easily pull them by dint of their torque and body weight though the range will not remain intact.

How Comes Tesla Can Pull a Plane?

Tesla’s enormous torque and sizeable mass make it easy to pull a plane. Let us explain with the help of the physics involved. We will assume the Tesla Model X for the sake of simplification.

A car can tow an airplane if it can produce a force large enough to counter the friction between the latter’s tires and the ground. Once countered, the plane starts moving. But to maintain that movement or increase the velocity, the net force must exceed the frictional force. The Tesla Model X achieves this in two ways: it produces 660 Nm torque, giving a massive forward-pushing force to its wheels. Besides having a big frame and large battery, the car also weighs a lot. This weight firmly presses the tires to the ground, giving them enough friction to maintain contact. Had the weight been less, the car would lose its grip over the ground, and the tires would spin in the air instead of moving the car forward.

But it does not mean that Tesla cars can tow any plane and for a long—there are caveats attached. A sustainable pull can only be achieved if the weight attached falls within what a car can pull (In the case of the Tesla Model X, it is 5,000 lbs). A Tesla Model X car could pull a Qantas Boeing 787 for 300 meters, but it was meant only for the demonstration. The plane weighed 286,600 lbs—almost 57 times heavier than what the car can pull! If an electric car pulls such an enormous load for too long, it will drain the battery much quicker. Moreover, the pulling speed will also never be great.

Read: Can You Drive a Tesla in the Snow? An Astounding Yes—Know Why

How to Pull a Plane With a Tesla?

To pull a plane with your Tesla, configure it this way. Before we delve deeper into it, know we are not talking about towing a commercial airliner. At your very best, you should only tow a small, ultralight airplane with it. These aircraft are only around 1,000 lbs heavy, making them quite easy to be towed.

Tesla cars can pull additional loads using a tow package. It is a hitch designed slightly differently for different Tesla models. You can get it from Tesla shops for around $1,000, depending upon the model you drive. Place it firmly in the hitch socket at the rear bumper. Also, make sure that there is no play to avoid any damage. Once installed, tie the plane with it, and you are ready to tow it.

You can turn the ‘Trailer Mode’ on to make the ride easy and safe. It will disable the rear proximity sensors. It will also reduce the braking force provided by Automatic Emergency Braking to increase the stopping distance.

Make sure that the plane is also safe for pulling. If you use merely a rope to tie it to your Tesla, you will risk a collision while applying brakes. The connection must be established with a rod similar to that attached to a trailer.


The ‘Towing Mode’ present in your Tesla is used when the car itself is to be pulled. It sets all wheels free, making it easy for the tower to move. Do not confuse yourself by setting your car in that mode while pulling your plane!


How Much Weight Can You Tow With a Tesla?


Model 3

Tesla Model 3 can pull up to 2,200 lbs load. It applies to all three variants, i.e., standard, performance, and long-range AWDs.

Model S

Tesla does not approve of towing with the Model S, so no specific and official information is available. However, various sources claim that the vehicle can still pull up to 2,000 lbs.

Model X

Both variants of the Tesla Model X can tow up to 5,000 lbs. This model tops every other in terms of its pulling capacity. Tesla Model X has the largest towing capacity in the world of electric SUVs. Besides having an enormous towing capacity, the vehicle also has ample storage for long trips.

Model Y

All four versions of the Tesla Model Y can pull up to 3,500 lbs weight. Though the model shares its ‘anatomy’ with model 3 a lot (75 percent of the parts are the same), it holds a far more impressive towing capacity.

Does Pulling a Plane Compromise Tesla’s Range?

Unfortunately, pulling a plane can significantly reduce a Tesla’s range. The load is heavy enough for the car, and it needs to increase the power output to pull and maintain the velocity. Besides, the additional load can also alter the aerodynamics of the system, leading to an increase in the overall air drag. But Tesla is not alone in this problem; even gasoline-powered cars can suffer up to 50 percent loss in their fuel average while towing heavy loads.


While the exact decrement in the range depends upon several factors, such as the load attached and the battery condition, you can expect it to be up to 40 to 60 percent.

Which Tesla Model Is the Best for Pulling a Plane?

So far, the Tesla Model X is the best choice for pulling a plane. With its gigantic torque to rotate the wheels and heavy weight to maintain friction with the ground, the vehicle is simply outstanding in its towing performance. However, this title will soon be snatched by the Tesla Cybertruck upon its release. It will have up to 1,000 Nm torque and a whopping 14,000 pounds pulling capacity, ideally enough to pull 14 ultralight planes in a row!


Tesla Models

Towing Capacity (lbs) Torque (Nm)

Weight (lbs)


5,000 660

Up to 5,371


3,500 481 



2,200 487 

Up to 3,814


2,000 487 

Up to 4,960


Concluding Remarks: Can a Tesla Pull a Plane?

Affirmative. Tesla cars can pull a plane. If the plane is small and lightweight, Teslas’s enormous torque and massive body weight can tow it to a certain range. The Model X suits this job best; however, note that the range will decrease with the additional load. In some cases, it can go even below half.

The progress is immense: the Tesla Cybertruck is expected to be launched soon. It will have triple the towing power of the Model X. Shortly, we might be able to pull a fully loaded Antonov An-225 with a Tesla—who knows?

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