More and more manufacturers of recreational vehicles (RVs) are interested in electrification and deploying plans in that direction. Lately, two American names have joined the queue. Winnebago has presented an electric motorhome concept, and Thor industries did the same but also added an ‘e-assisted caravan’.
All over the world, camper specialists are working overtime to present electrified vehicles for a camper public that seems slowly moving in that direction. It’s true that many campsites already have an electrical installation that could be pretty easily adapted to the needs of the electric camper.
Winnebago e-RV Concept
The US manufacturer Winnebago Industries presented its Concept for a future motorhome with electric drive at the Florida RV SuperShow. The e-RV Concept is based on the Ford Transit; the drive comes from Lightning eMotors.
The concept vehicle includes an 86-kWh battery configuration. The company claims the range is about 200 kilometers. It says this meets the needs of the majority (54%) of new RV buyers who prefer trips of less than 200 miles. Charging is possible at home, at the campsite, and at public charging stations. At DC charging stations, the charging time is about 45 minutes.
The chassis is based on a Ford Transit platform modified with an electric drive system from Lightning eMotors that powers the drivetrain, vehicle controls, and living area. An integrated control system allows subsystems to operate, optimizing utilization and efficiency. Control is possible via a digital display on a tablet or smartphone app. The e-RV includes a water heater, induction hob and refrigerator, and a roof-mounted air conditioner with a heat pump. A Wi-Fi network with a dual modem router enables connection to the internet.
Thor Vision Vehicle
At the same Florida show, Thor Industries unveiled concepts for an electrically powered RV. However, Thor takes a different approach: the Thor Vision Vehicle (TVV) is not based on a third-party electric chassis but an electric chassis developed jointly with Roush.
In addition to the battery, the TVV has a fuel cell, enabling a range of up to 480 kilometers. However, no concrete performance figures or plans for a production model are yet known.
Airstream eStream Concept
Interestingly, Thor Industries has also presented a second electric concept: next to the electrically powered motorhome, there is a so-called ‘e-assisted caravan’.
The Airstream eStream Concept caravan is based on a high-voltage electric chassis from Thor and developed with ZF and Hymer. It has its own electric drive and batteries.
This means that the caravan should be able to drive itself when maneuvering and support the electric drive of the towing vehicle when traveling to the campsite, thus increasing the range of the vehicle and trailer combination.
Here also, Thor does not currently provide technical data. Nevertheless, a rough estimate is possible because the platform developed by ZF and Thor subsidiary Hymer is known: In the summer of 2021, a prototype caravan crossed the Alps with an Audi e-tron as the towing vehicle, without recharging.
Two 90 kW electric motors were installed in the E-Home Coco prototype, and the caravan also had two 40 kWh batteries each, which were also capable of fast charging.