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Is the Electric RV the Way of the Future?

Is the Electric RV the Way of the Future?

We recently published a post on electric vehicle towing capacity in which we discussed whether or not you can tow an RV with an EV. As a follow-up, today we’re looking at the electric RV.

What exactly is an electric RV and what are the pros and cons associated with them? Are there fully electric RVs currently on the market? Are they the way of the future?

We’re looking into all of this and more – so let’s get to it!

What Is an Electric RV?

An electric RV, like any electric vehicle, has a motor that runs on battery power as opposed to an internal combustion engine that uses fuel. The concept of an electric RV would find the rig using a high-voltage battery to drive an electric motor to move it down the road. The battery would have a limited capacity (as a fuel tank does) before it requires recharging at an appropriate charging station.

Photo of a charging station for electric vehicles

Every electric vehicle has a range of distance it can be driven before a charging station like this one must be located for the purpose of recharging the high-voltage battery that powers the electric motor.

What are the Pros/Potential of an Electric RV?

There are a lot of reasons why vehicles are going electric, but let’s look at some of the specific upsides to this happening with RVs:

  • Environmentally friendly due to the lack of an internal combustion engine
  • Much quieter operation when driving (which means less fatigue from long days on the road)
  • Significant torque from an electric motor, offering improved acceleration and performance
  • If (and ONLY if) the battery used to power the motor and wheels can also supply power to the coach, there’ll be ample battery capacity to power RV electrical needs
  • The drivetrain requires less maintenance because electric motors have fewer moving parts
  • Additional storage space is available due to the simplicity of the drivetrain
  • Innovative new designs and floor plans could arise based on custom chassis designs that take advantage of the unique features of electric drivetrains.
Photo of an electric vehicle charging station in Colorado

Among the main drawbacks of an electric vehicle is the need to find an EV charging station, as well as the time required to recharge the high-voltage battery. EV charging stations aren’t readily available everywhere, and when you’re out of battery power, you’re stranded.

What are the Cons of an Electric RV?

As with just about everything in life, where there’s good, there’s often also bad, too. So let’s go over some of the cons of moving toward electric RVs:

  • Not readily available
  • Range issues and range anxiety, particularly if the house power is supplied by the same battery/batteries that are used to power the motor. In addition to the concern of not having sufficient range to get to where you’re going, you could potentially be stranded by an unanticipated drained battery (from using amenities that require power in your RV) without enough power to reach the next place to recharge.
  • Lack of availability of charging stations, especially in certain locations. Not only is the time required to charge the battery longer than the time to fuel, but charging stations are nowhere near as available as traditional fuels like gasoline and diesel (at the present time).
  • Uncertainty. An electric RV is a new entity that doesn’t have the track record that traditional RV engine/chassis combinations have. The concept is exciting, but there are still a lot of unknowns.

Are There Any All-Electric RVs?

There are a few all-electric RVs on the market, however, most are only sold in Europe, and others are only conceptual at this point.

With that said, it appears possible that all-electric RVs are poised to be coming soon to a campground near you, even right here in North America. Let’s take a look!

What Is the Winnebago e-RV?

Winnebago Industries has announced its first offering in the e-RV space, a concept rig that offers all-electric operation. This zero-emissions RV incorporates an advanced drivetrain and battery package that also powers all the systems and amenities in the coach.

Photo of the Winnebago e-RV, an electric RV concept vehicle

Winnebago Industries has introduced the concept for its first electric RV. It’s built on the Ford Transit platform, with an electrical power system from Lightning eMotors. (Photo credit: Winnebago Industries)

The e-RV is based on the Ford Transit platform modified with an electrical power system from Lightning eMotors. This powers the drivetrain, vehicle controls, and living area.

The Winnebago e-RV will include 350V DC power for the water heater and roof-mounted air conditioner with heat pump, as well as 110V AC for the induction cooktop and fridge. (These can also operate on 12V DC.)

So, how about battery charging? Well, Winnebago has created a concept that allows for charging at dedicated charging stations as well as at campgrounds and at home. High-current charging stations will offer a charging time of around 45 minutes.

The current configuration provides a range of 125 miles with the 86-kWh battery configuration, (currently the industry standard), while also powering onboard systems. Winnebago has stated that evolving battery technology will likely increase this range as the concept vehicle continues to develop.

Materials used throughout Winnebago’s concept RV are eco-friendly and sustainable, including recycled cork-rubber flooring and wool to enhance wall insulation.

A photo of the interior of the Winnebago electric RV

Winnebago’s concept carries the eco-friendly theme inside with materials used on the interior, including recycled cork-rubber flooring and wool to enhance wall insulation. (Photo credit: Winnebago Industries)

The e-RV offers a residential grade WiFi network with a dual-modem router to offer high-performance wireless connectivity. Because who doesn’t want to stay connected while on the road?

Pricing has yet to be announced as the Winnebago e-RV remains a concept vehicle at this time.

What Is the Airstream e-Stream?

The all-electric Airstream e-Stream is a new take on the classically-designed silver bullet… but now with an electric drivetrain. This is a concept travel trailer built by Airstream and its parent company, THOR Industries.

Photo of the Airstream eStream electric RV

The eStream is Airstream’s all-electric concept RV created in partnership with its parent company, THOR Industries. With its electric drivetrain, the RV works in conjunction with the tow vehicle. (Photo credit: Airstream)

The idea behind this concept is for the travel trailer to work in conjunction with the tow vehicle to maximize range and efficiency. The design would allow the owner to unhitch the travel trailer and use a smartphone or other mobile device to remotely control the Airstream into the campsite, with 360-degree maneuverability. Talk about making parking your trailer easy as pie!

The all-electric concept finds high-efficiency solar panels combined with high-voltage batteries to allow for efficient, longer-term boondocking.

The large automotive-grade high-voltage battery bank powers all of the all-electric appliances onboard, as well as the independent motors that enable the Airstream eStream to move under its own power. In fact, those motors also work while the eStream is in “Drive Mode”, assisting it as it moves down the road “following” behind the tow vehicle as opposed to simply being towed. So, Drive Mode literally uses drive assist motors in the axle to push the travel trailer forward… improving the range of the tow vehicle… whether it’s an electric tow vehicle or one with an internal combustion engine.

According to Airstream, the battery bank will run the air conditioner, appliances, and connectivity without additional power being required (such as that provided by a shore power connection or a generator). With 900 watts of solar power on the roof, the eStream’s batteries will take full advantage of the awesome power of the sun.

Mockup of the Airstream eStream on the road, pulled by a pickup truck

The Airstream eStream is fully electric and includes a roof full of flexible solar panels to harness the power of the sun. (Photo credit: Airstream)

The eStream is said to provide more than 30 times the power of the lithium batteries found in current Airstream models. With 80 kWhrs of power, Airstream says the high-voltage batteries and electronic systems are capable of offering campers enough power to simulate the experience of being connected to shore power. That’s quite a promise!

We look forward to seeing all of these fascinating concepts in action!

What Is the Thor Vision Vehicle?

In addition to the Airstream e-Stream, THOR Industries has announced its own electric RV called the THOR Vision Vehicle. Like the Winnebago e-RV, the base for the Vision Vehicle concept is the full-size Ford Transit van.

Photo of the THOR Vision Vehicle, an electric RV concept from THOR Industries

The THOR Vision Vehicle promises a 300-mile range, courtesy of a high-capacity battery pack and an integrated fuel cell. (Photo credit: THOR Industries)

THOR promises up to 300 miles of targeted driving range with the Vision Vehicle, more than twice the projected range of Winnebago’s e-RV. This jump in driving range is attributed to the concept’s powertrain, which includes a high-capacity battery pack (though THOR isn’t stating the actual energy capacity at this time), and a range-extender with an onboard fuel cell “that allows for a variety of fuel options”. Hmmm…that’s intriguing!

THOR isn’t saying a whole lot more about the Vision Vehicle yet, but the concept paints the picture of a digital wonderland – with digital displays throughout the rig and high-end appointments in the living space.

Does SylvanSport Make an All-Electric RV With a Range of Up To 400 Miles?

Again, it’s a concept. So don’t rush out to your nearest dealer just yet!

SylvanSport, in collaboration with Zeus Electric Chassis, Inc., is working on introducing an all-electric RV that offers a significant range.

Zeus’ area of expertise is in building electric work truck chassis. With SylvanSport’s experience in creating adventure trailers and gear, the two hope to offer a collaboration that looks something like this:

Photo of SylvanSport's concept for a rugged all-electric RV

SylvanSport has partnered with Zeus Electric Chassis to create a concept for an all-electric motorhome line with a significant range of travel. (Photo credit: SylvanSport)

This concept doesn’t even have a name at this point, but SylvanSport and Zeus intend to offer an entire line of all-electric RVs that include all-wheel-drive military-grade axles, liquid-cooled permanent magnet AC motors, independent coil springs at the front and rear, with 290 hp, and 3,000 pound-feet of torque.

With a GVWR of around 14,000 pounds, the projection is for the rig to be up to 25 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 10 feet tall.

To date, battery size hasn’t been mentioned (that we’ve seen) but indeed the projected drive range is said to be up to 400 miles. And get this – the rig is slated to come with Level 2 DC fast charging capability onboard, which means re-charging after (or during a road trip) will finish faster.

Does Tesla Make an RV?

In short, no.

Tesla is accepting orders for its Cybertruck (which will be available in single-motor and dual motor versions), but it’s not an RV. It seats six people and is equipped with what Tesla calls “CyberTruck vault”, which is a 6.5-foot bed.

The top of the CyberTruck unrolls, should you need to put something in the truck that’s higher than the roof. It has a decidedly futuristic appearance, a projected release date of late 2022, and the original specs noted a towing capacity of 14,000 lbs.

Mock-up/photo of the top view of a Tesla CyberTruck

Tesla’s CyberTruck (Photo credit: Tesla)

Meanwhile, a Las Vegas-based analytics company, Stream It, has designed a $50,000 attachment for Tesla’s Cybertruck that will reportedly turn it into a camper.

The attachment, called the Cyberlandr, will have a compact design including retractable solar panels. It will also have sliding doors, surround sound, heated floors, a recirculating shower, and even Starlink satellite internet.

The Cyberlandr essentially turns Tesla’s Cybertruck into a campervan.

Photo rendering of the CyberLandr camper towed by the Tesla CyberTruck

Stream It’s Cyberlandr – the $50,000 camper that attaches to Tesla’s CyberTruck. (Photo credit: Tesla)

What Was the World’s First Electric RV?

The world’s first electric RV was the Iridium E-Mobil RV. Debuting at the 2018 Travel Fair in Stuttgart, Germany, the biggest downside to the electric rig was its range: only around 124 miles!

Now, however, the Iridium E-Mobil RV is available with a 108 kWh battery pack giving travelers about 250 miles before the battery needs recharging.

Photo of the Iridium E-Mobil RV

The Iridium E-Mobil RV, the world’s first electric RV, made its debut at the 2018 Travel Fair in Stuttgart, Germany. It’s still not available in North America, however. (Photo credit: EFA-S/WOF)

When Can I Buy an Electric RV In the USA?

Well, that’s the $100,000 question, isn’t it? But, if we’re to believe the manufacturers who are preparing to release the first electric RVs in North America, we might see an all-electric RV in late 2022. Winnebago says it’s going to be the first, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, all RVs get plugged in already, at least for the purpose of powering systems and appliances, and charging the batteries. Every RVer will want to keep at least one or two “dog bone” adapters on hand for that purpose.

Watch our video “Dog Bones 101” here:

You might even need one of these RV dog bone adapters to charge your electric RV at the campground!

Sale
Camco PowerGrip 12" Heavy Duty RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter | Features Innovative 180 Degree Bend Design and Easy PowerGrip Handle | 15 Amp Male to 30 Amp Female | Black (55165)
  • Safe and durable construction: Adapter cord is constructed with 100% copper wiring coated with a heavy duty flame retardant, heat resistant PVC sleeve...
  • High conductivity with a compact and sleek design: Adapter allows easy conversion from a 30 Amp to 15 Amp connection. Rated for 125 volts and 1875...
Sale
50 Amp to 30 Amp RV Adapter, Heavy Duty, Durable and Safer Plug with an Easier Grip and LED Indicator Light
  • Heavy duty Electrical power adapter: 50AMP (TT-30P) male to 30AMP (14-50R) female adapter for all RVs running 50 amps, perfect power conversion for...
  • High quality: Heavy duty PVC cord- coating, Wire is made of copper, excellent and stable conductive.

To find whatever style RV dog bone adapters you might need, check here.

Do You Think Electric RVs Are the Way of the Future?

We’d like to know what you think about all this pie in the sky! There’s a lot of innovation out there and it’s developing rapidly. Do you think electric RVs are the way of the future? Would you buy one if it were available today? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

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John Schretlen

Sunday 13th of March 2022

What an informative read. John did you do a lot of the research for this posting. If so "Well done John!" If not John then: "Peter, you did good."

John/Peter you noted several points that I did not know anything about (eStream and Cyberlandr for two.)

Now that more and more e-vehicles are being sold every week it won't be long until everybody know someone who has one. I know a few people with e-cars and have talked about them a lot.

A few months ago I was having coffee and one of the group owns a Tesla. We were keen to know about range, charging location, charging time and all the usual travel questions. Knowing I had a 45' DP motorhome that's "all electric' we got talking about e-RV's as well. Note: 'all electric' means no propane.

One huge advantage for electric RV's it's that you have an excellent place to wait while charging.

Be it lor lunch, shopping, or all night, you will be comfortable. Think cold rainy day and you are happy, warm and productive while the battery recharges.

Perhaps this idea might make it to e-RV advertising one day.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 13th of March 2022

The other advantage to large vehicles like RVs and trucks is there’s lots of room and carrying capacity for large batteries. Hope they get to it soon!

Tim H.

Sunday 13th of March 2022

To Willie’s point, yup, LOTS of hurdles to overcome, but none of these problems are insurmountable.

Consider this fact: The Sun radiates more energy on the surface of the earth in one HOUR than the entire planet consumes in one YEAR.

Obviously we are not even close to capturing, storing or effectively distributing this unlimited source of free, clean energy, but the potential is undoubtedly there.

So, as Walt stated, it’s unlikely I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I’d be surprised if my 3 year old grandson doesn’t look at gas and diesel powered vehicles the way I look at steam locomotives by the time he’s my age.

The glass is already half-full.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 13th of March 2022

We’re with you, Tim! Hope we live long enough to see neutronium-powered vehicles (showing my age with a little Lost In Space reference)! 😁

Willie Cox

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Where is all this electricty going to come from? Mostly from oil or coal. Is the US going to upgrade all of the electric grids or are we just going to except rolling blackouts nation wide?

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 13th of March 2022

We sure do need more energy, and just as important, energy independence. Challenging times.

Walt Leutwyler

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Unfortunately at my age I can not see E RV in my future or any other E Vehicle because of the short range. Most of my daily travel is about 400 miles. In time battery improvement will increase driving distance.

TheRVgeeks

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Hi Walt! We’re thinking that with a 400 mile daily driving distance, you’re right that an EV isn’t likely to work for you yet. We’re hoping that technology continues to march forward and make that a reasonable possibility at some point soon.

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