The Future Of Electric, Sustainable, Off-Grid And Autonomous RVs

Jul 25, 2022

Through advanced technology, recreational vehicle and trailer companies are making their vehicles and customer experiences more sustainable. Winnebago, THOR Industries, and Living Vehicle are working on electrifying the RV space.

Advanced technologies include an electric RV, hydrogen extended-range electric RV, self-powered trailer, and solar-powered trailers that extract water from the air.

Creative EVs for Hospitals, Schools and Road Trips

Winnebago is famous for making mobile outdoor lifestyle motorhomes and trailers. The company is adding advanced technologies to its RVs.

“We are really focused on advanced technologies which are coming in the next five, seven to ten years,” says Ashis Bhattachary, Winnebago Industries senior vice president, Business Development, Advanced Technology and Enterprise Marketing.

Bhattachary notes that making an electric RV is not as easy as making an electric car.

He says an electric RV requires energy management that includes many internal systems that generate, store and consume electricity. The systems include battery-systems, inverters, lithium batteries, car batteries and appliances. Appliances in an RV that need electricity are air conditioners, water heaters, induction cooktops, infotainment systems, and plumbing systems.


Electric Concepts From THOR Industries

THOR Industries is the largest maker of RVs and trailers in the world. In January, they showed two electric concepts at the 2022 Florida RV Supershow. The THOR VISION VEHICLE is a concept motorhome. The Airstream eStream is a concept electric trailer.

“The THOR VISION VEHICLE demonstrates a powertrain concept to deliver a 300-mile good experience for the customer,” says MacKay Featherstone, Senior Vice President of Global Innovation, THOR Industries.

“We want customers to have a great experience. We focused on delivering the right range for the weight and size of the vehicle with a fuel cell range extender. We believe it is a critical component,” says Featherstone. He notes the range was also increased by improved aerodynamics.

The other focus of the THOR VISION VEHICLE is the digital experience with Alexa voice integration and apps.

“Our vision is holistic, integrated trip planning. We really brought it to life in the concept vehicle,” says Featherstone.

The integrated trip planner includes campgrounds, charging stations and points of interest with content from Campendium, Roadpass, RoadTrippers, RVillage and ToGo RV.

“We also made sure that all the information you need is easily accessible with multiple screens throughout the vehicle for system control,” says Featherstone.

The concept eStream trailer from Airstream has an electric powertrain and batteries.

“The eStream does what our customers envisioned. It can help you extend the range when you are towing. The trailer is powering itself. It’s pushing itself as it follows behind the tow vehicle. So, you think about all the energy that goes into pulling the trailer. Well, that energy now comes from the trailer itself. So when you are towing you get more range,” says Featherstone.

When the trailer has a motor, it unlocks a new benefit called Mover Mode, low-speed remote control of the trailer.

“With Mover Mode, you never have to back up the trailer. You unhitch it. Turn the system on. Then you can drive the trailer with one finger on an app and back it into the campsite and out of tight space,” says Featherstone.

Electrification simplifies and improves RVing experiences.

“You have more freedom and flexibility. You can camp anywhere. You don’t have to have propane, so you have fewer hassles. Electric RVs are simpler and easier to use overall. THOR is committed to leading in this space. THOR has made a strong sustainability statement. THOR is investing in concept vehicles and developing the technology. All of the brands within THOR aim to lead in this area because we believe it is a better experience for customers,” predicts Featherstone.


Read the full article from Auto Futures here

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