Electric RV's and Their Ascendance into Today's World


Brennen Durka
September 28th, 2021

Electric RV's and Their Ascendance into Today's World.
Showcasing the Future of Electric RV Technology.
Today, electric car road trips still involve a fair amount of adventure (though it's a fun adventure) when finding a way to charge the car without wasting too much time.

Many people enjoy taking road trips in RVs, and while this is not a green mode of transportation today, there is one very interesting synergy: almost every RV Park already has tonnes of high-power charging infrastructure that can recharge electric cars overnight. It's already commonplace.

The new versus the old
Existing RV designs rely on gasoline/diesel to power the vehicle and run its generator for AC, microwave, and battery charging. Off-grid, it relies on propane for heat, hot water, cooking, and running the refrigerator. RVs are typically inefficient, large, and non-aerodynamic. They can afford to be because making a gas vehicle less efficient simply means paying more per mile, using larger gas tanks without sacrificing range.

With electric, the situation is quite different: efficiency directly translates to the value range, and compensating with larger batteries adds a significant amount of cost, weight, and recharge time.

When you consider electric vehicle RV camping, a slew of new possibilities emerge, both in terms of how you power things in the camper and the types of off-roading that become possible. It should be possible to create electric off-road vehicles that outperform today's gasoline vehicles. These factors, combined with the greener nature of electricity, may soon make electric RV camping a far more viable option.

Why are RVs becoming so popular in the first place?
As the travel culture develops and adapts, we see many who opt for the peaceful ‘van life’. And for very good reasons too!

RV camping is popular for a variety of reasons, including:
  • Tolerable, if small, accommodations without the hassle of booking motels, checking in and out, moving, packing, and unpacking your belongings.
  • Low nightly rate
  • The ability to stop in places other than hotels, such as parks and the countryside.
  • Freedom to roam without fear of not finding a place to stay: RV parks are less likely to be fully booked, and dry camping is usually an option.

Are Electric RVs part of the new norm?
The goal of electric vehicles is to be extremely efficient. They are typically designed to have much lower drag than conventional cars because having higher efficiency not only saves you money but also gives you a more valuable range.

Electric RVs have some very promising features that will undoubtedly come in handy if you intend to stay on the road for an extended period.

Solar roofs
While solar panels do not make sense on the roof of a car, they do make sense on the roof of an RV. A pop-up trailer's roof could have 1,000 watts of solar panels. Lightweight thin-film panels would be lighter and more robust, but would only produce half the power.

Off-grid solar is not particularly environmentally friendly, but these are an exception. At home, if the trailer is parked in a sunny location and equipped with a suitable inverter, it can provide power to the house.

Truck camper
Tesla, Rivian, and even an electric Ford F150 are all releasing electric pickup trucks shortly. While some of the vehicles have extremely short beds, those with longer beds could easily accommodate standard pop-up truck campers. Furthermore, modifications to connect power and ducting would be simpler.

Some truck campers are fairly high-end, with slide-outs and adequate space in long-bed models. Pop-up truck campers are available to provide the efficiency required for an electric vehicle. A truck camper can tow things like a boat, but the range is very limited in that case. The height and shape of this will make it unsuitable for aerodynamics, but it is likely to be the first product of its kind.

The tow vehicle
Off-roading with electric vehicles has a lot of potentials. The use of hub motors, in particular, would enable a vehicle with true 4 wheel drive — four completely independently driven wheels with no axles, allowing as much clearance as you can handle without tipping over.

The Orbis Ring Drive wheel claims to have a hub motor with no axle and less unsprung weight than current wheels.

A vehicle of this type could suspend itself on stilts for almost arbitrary ground clearance and the incredible torque of electric motors. With the trailer removed, this would enable the development of the most capable off-road vehicles available.

Robotic RVs
Once robocar technology is available, a slew of new possibilities emerge. It's much more difficult for a vehicle to run unmanned over unmapped off-road terrain, but on regular roads, a plethora of interesting options become available.

Some of these involve the trailer having its motors, batteries, and sensors, effectively making it a vehicle in its own right rather than a trailer. This would imply that you drive around your travel area, taking in the sights, while the "trailer" takes a direct and slower route to your next campsite.

Propane/No propane
The majority of campers, especially those used for off-grid camping, have a propane tank. It is capable of powering a furnace, a cooker, and a refrigerator. (Most RV refrigerators are inefficiently designed, using heat to boil ammonia and then condensing it to cool.

When they are plugged in, they simply use electric heat instead of propane to boil the refrigerant.) A compressor-based electric fridge can operate on well under 1kwh per day, which is well within the budget of any electric vehicle or solar panel. (A fridge would require constant power, necessitating a few kWh of battery capacity in the trailer for when the tow vehicle wants to go exploring.)

Another issue is the presence of hot water. A "camping shower" with about 5 gallons of water will probably cost about half a kWh. A good off-grid plan is to have a solar water heater and supplement it with electricity to bring it up to temperature.

Shower whenever you want in the morning in RV parks. Shower in the late afternoon, off the grid. Because of the vast amount of electrical power available, your water heater would be tankless and would waste no energy.

Electric RVs that are making the headlines:

The Winnebago Electric RV
The Winnebago Electric RV is classified as a Class A coach. This 100 percent battery electric vehicle emits no emissions and is eligible for numerous federal, state, and local incentives for electric vehicle purchases and infrastructure upgrades (EV plug-ins).

Unlike standard RVs, the Winnebago electric RV is designed to transport sensitive and heavy equipment. This extra engineering is required for specialty vehicles such as mobile classrooms, blood donation centers, and medical screening vehicles.

A full charge of the Sodium-Nickel battery pack takes seven to eight hours. The batteries, on the other hand, can be charged at various levels. A 50% charge will take two hours, and a 75% charge will take four hours. These batteries are safer and more useful for a broader range of applications, and they can be remotely monitored.

The WOF Iridium
The WOF Iridium debuted at the 2019 Dusseldorf Caravan Salon with a whopping 249-mile range and the motorhome's largest battery pack. Dusseldorf also gave camper enthusiasts a first look inside the Iridium, though the layout is fairly standard.

The Iridium has a kitchen, a dry bathroom and shower, and a split double bed. Because of the swivel front cab seats, a dual-seat rear bench, and a side seat, the dining lounge in the front of the camper can seat five people. Awning, navigation, and Bluetooth connectivity are among the other features.

While it's exciting to see the interior of the motorhome, it's the expanded range that's causing a stir. Real-world testing will be required to see how close drivers can get to the newly advertised range of 249 miles, but that's a lot more than the recently announced Winnebago Industries commercial RV, which only has an 85-125 mile range per charge.

The Nissan e-NV200, a zero-emission, factory-built electric camper, is probably the most similar to the Iridium EV. However, this pop-up camper is not a full-size motorhome, and it also has a 124-mile range before needing to be charged.

Lordstown Endurance
The Endurance's futuristic hub-motor system will produce a total of 600 horsepower. This four-wheel-drive system involves an electric motor mounted directly in each of the truck's wheels, which reduces the number of moving parts and, according to Lordstown, improves reliability and lowers maintenance costs.

The Endurance is expected to have a range of around 250 miles, but the company hasn't revealed any details about its battery capacity. While that figure appears plausible given the current driving range of many EVs, it falls short of the R1maximum T's estimate of 400 miles and the Cybertruck's undeniably ambitious 500-plus-mile claim.

We believe the Endurance will have styling and features similar to the Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500. This is based on the company's relationship with General Motors and the fact that the prototype model used a Chevy Silverado "donor body."

Are Electric RVs here to stay?
Electric RVs are an innovative form of modern-day traveling. The question persists, would they succeed in leaving the conventional fuel-driven RVs behind? Well, that remains to be answered. But the truth of the matter is, introducing Electric RVs is one of the biggest steps taken to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly travel!

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