Using a car to pull an airplane is nothing new. We’ve seen a Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI, a Nissan Patrol and a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S all tug widebody aircraft. A few years ago, there was even a Toyota Tundra that pulled the Space Shuttle Endeavour across the 405 in Los Angeles. Now Australia’s Qantas Airways has joined the fray, feauturing the all-electric Tesla Model X P100D.
Now this is the first time we know of that a road-going EV has pulled an airplane, in this case a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Pulling anything really comes down to torque and traction, something the Tesla has in spades. This model has all-wheel drive thanks to a dual-motor setup and makes peak torque off-the-line (though finding a Tesla’s exact torque rating is about as easy as searching for the Ark of the Covenant).
Not to detract from the Tesla’s achievement, but the 787-9 is relatively lightweight for an aircraft of its size. It uses a combination of composite materials, aluminum, titanium and more to help reduce weight. Still, we’re sure the Model X would have no problem with a larger or heavier plane to tug. And anyway, it was enough to set a Guinness World Record as the heaviest tow by an electric production passenger vehicle.
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