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Coming Soon To A Campground Near You: The Electric RV


It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2027. You glance around the oceanfront RV park where you’re vacationing and see laughing children and relaxed campers. There’s an Airstream eStream across the lot. Under a copse of shade trees is a Winnebago e-RV. Across the way is a Mercedes EQV Electric Camper. It seems that everywhere you look there is an electric RV!

Ah. While that image of all-electric recreation holds such allure, for this Memorial Day Weekend, 2022, the options for electric RVs are quite slim. Yet what seems an elusive 5 years to wait in our imaginary scenario isn’t that long, and all signs are that the emergence of an electric RV option will be realistic and viable by that date.

After all, by 2027, the EV market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 33.6 % from 2020 to 2027, with a pinnacle of $2,495.4 billion and 233.9 million units. Ford alone will likely produce more than 2 million EVs annually by then.

It makes sense that the eRV will be part of this electric industry growth.

For many people, long distance travel means a RV. The electric and locally emission free future of the motorhome industry is rising to the challenge of sustainable travel. After all, what consumers want, consumers tend to get, and emissions-free camping now is in high demand.

As you look around the jam-packed RV village this summer, however, you’re likely to hear the rumble of generators. It’s just not very soothing or connected to nature…

Eco-Camping Gains in Popularity

Being in natural surroundings is beneficial to your mental and physical health.  People who have had the opportunity to experience the beauty and magic of remote wild places often become environmental advocates, seeking to protect the fragile geologic wonders and ecosystems.

As a steward of the natural world, you carry with you the knowledge that time spent in wilderness contributes to environmental awareness. Eco-camping is a term used to describe the associated environmentally friendly trip, with the goal of respecting and preserving wild spaces for years to come. Eco-campers avoid single use plastic, reuse containers, steer away from products manufactured with chemicals, correctly dispose of all waste, and stay on trails.

Campers who make smart decisions to minimize the impact they have on the environment around them adhere to a Leave No Trace philosophy, which now includes zero emissions travel. While it can mean moving primarily by human power through hiking, paddling, or biking, longer trips are common. Eco-campers want the more complex emissions-free travel options from an eRV — in addition to an induction cooktop and an electric refrigerator, water heater, and air conditioner.

An electric RV is a good fit for sustainable vacationing.

Electric RV Releases & Concepts

Arriving at the RV site means getting bedrooms set up, camping furniture in place, kitchen and food items in designated areas, chairs and tables raised and situated, windows open, and personal technology devices hooked up. It’s less about getting there than experiencing the relationship with the outdoors.

Or is it?

Traveling long distances in a recreational vehicle means traveling with all the comforts of home. Consumers who shop for eRVs want luxury as well as state-of-the-art battery and charging technology at an affordable price.

Green Car Reports looked at the North American Motorized Electric RV poll from December, 2021. Of the 675 respondents who had either currently owned an EV or had some level of RV experience (owning, renting, camping, or borrowing) within the last 10 years, 47% of respondents said they’d use an eRV at least once every 2 to 3 weeks — some at least once a week. 97% expect to drive 3 hours or longer before charging, and 45% said that they expected to drive 5 or 6 hours from home before needing to charge. Can a 300-mile charge allotment really meet that expectation?

The most popular response for an expected charge time was in the 45-to-59 minute range, suggesting the need for DC fast-charging not just in products like this but as an infrastructure need at campsites nationwide. It’s a big leap from the typical 240-volt, 30-amp outlets at US campsites to fast-charge compatibility.

Here are some eRV concepts that are attempting to reach those plateaus of consumer expectations.

Airstream eStream Concept Travel Trailer: It paints a picture of a world in the not-so-distant future where your travel trailer works with your tow vehicle to maximize range and efficiency, where you unhitch and use your mobile device to remote control your Airstream into the campsite, and where ultra-efficient solar panels and high-voltage batteries enable you to take your adventures even farther off the grid. Airstream says its large, safe, automotive-grade high-voltage battery bank powers everything from the all-electric appliances to the independent motors that allow the travel trailer to move under its own power.

Mercedes EQV: If you’re in Switzerland, you can place an order for this electric RV right now. The Mercedes EQV features a pop-up tent roof similar to the one made famous by Volkswagen. The conversion, which was handled by Swiss company, Sortimo, rethinks the battery-electric driven V-Class mid-size van. The EQV 300 has a range of between 203 and 226 miles, while the EQV 250 has a range of 132 to 147 miles. The price for the electric camper is said to be $75,000. Solar panels on the roof are available at an extra cost. Klaus Rehkugler, Head of Sales and Marketing Mercedes‑Benz Vans: “The motorhome market is of strategic importance for Mercedes‑Benz Vans. We want to continue to grow here and play a pioneering role in terms of innovation and sustainability. For us it is clear: The future is electric, also in the motorhome industry!”

Winnebago e-RV: The Ford Transit–based Winnebago e-RV has an 86-kwh battery pack and will provide a 125-mile range — enough to satisfy 54% of RV buyers, it claims. Key elements include 350-volt DC power for the water heater and roof mounted air conditioner with heat pump and a 110-volt AC for the induction cooktop and the refrigerator, which can also operate on 12-volt DC power for enhanced flexibility and convenience. Charging time is around 45-minutes at high-current charging stations.

THOR Vision Vehicle Concept: Also starting with the Transit, Thor’s e-RV includes a battery pack, a hydrogen fuel cell, and a solar roof, adding up to 300 miles of range. The video below whets our eRV appetites.

Final Thoughts about an Electric RV

According to a Cars.com’s survey, 47% of EV owners take 3 to 5 road trips a year. Savings include not having to pay the high prices at the gas pump; pre-planning and more frequent stops for charging seem quite amenable to this ownership group.

All types of e-RVs are in the R&D stage: motorhomes, campervans, caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.

The Ford F-150 Lightning’s standard-range pack delivers 452 horsepower and 775 lb. ft. of torque. It can serve as a mobile electrification source, which is very appealing to campers. Many campers are considering ways to utilize its charging capacity for camp equipment.

Solar Team Eindhoven, a team of Dutch university students, decided to take a radically different approach to RVing when they built the solar-powered Stella Vita RV. Referred to as a “Self-Sustaining House On Wheels,” the prototype is a mobile home where you can live and work while traveling on the energy of the sun. Stella Vita generates energy through its solar panels on the roof and uses this energy for both driving and living.

THOR says its partnership with ZF has led to a concept travel trailer equipped with a prototype eTrailer System. Unlike an ordinary trailer, a trailer equipped with the eTrailer System is capable of moving under its own power. Using a sophisticated system of sensors, the speed of the trailer is matched to the speed of the tow vehicle, which leads to a minimal loss of range.


 


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