Is Airstream Leading the Way in the EV Race?
Airstream has been a leader in the RV industry for several generations, and that could hold true for the next one, as well. There’s been lots of talk lately about electric vehicle technology coming to the RV world. For some, it’s gotten off to a slower start than they expected. But Airstream could pull out ahead of its competition. Let’s look at the latest in emerging EV technology and how it might affect our community.
How Electric Vehicles Are Infiltrating the RV Industry
We hear more and more about Class E RVs, which are essentially EVs geared toward camping. Greener RVs are mostly in their experimental phase, but we expect to see more of them rolling out soon. These will include not just electric motorhomes but also travel trailers.
Improvements in lithium-ion battery technology and more efficient solar panels are making these transitions possible. We’re seeing some innovative ideas from lots of different manufacturers, both in the U.S. and Europe. There’s lots of interest from the sidelines, too. Some are putting off their next RV purchase because they want to see what the future holds.
Airstream to Pursue Electric Vehicles
Range is the big challenge with RVs going electric. You can’t travel very far without having to stop and recharge, and there aren’t that many places to do it. This is where the aerodynamic design of Airstream’s trailers may help.
The company says its engineers are designing RV trailers with an “electric assist” function. They’re working on incorporating a drivetrain into the trailer so that electricity helps to turn the trailer’s wheels. The idea is that it will reduce the amount of drag on the electric vehicle that’s towing the electric Airstream. The iconic sleek shape will help, too. The company is reportedly working directly with EV pickup truck maker Rivian on this exciting development.
Of course, RVers know Airstream best for its trailers, but it also has a luxurious line of class B RVs. They’re built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis. We haven’t heard anything about Airstream making a move to go electric with those, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Has Airstream Made a Move Toward EV Before?
Though Airstream doesn’t have anything to show for it yet, it has repeatedly voiced its commitment to a greener RV future. The company offers factory-installed lithium batteries, inverters, and solar packs that make it easier to live off the grid. The company is also planting trees to offset its carbon footprint. They’ve planted more than 100,000 so far, and customers can buy tax-deductible Carbon Reduction Kits to help expand the project.
Are Other RV Manufacturers Looking into EV?
Lots of companies are getting into the EV race. Winnebago has an all-electric coach, but it’s for commercial use only at this point. Others remain in the concept stage.
EV upstart Lordstown Motors of Ohio unveiled plans for a van-type RV, but we haven’t seen one yet. It would use the same platform as the company’s Endurance pickup truck. A German company called Knaus Tabbert has a hybrid class B in the works that sits on a Fiat chassis. It has a rotary engine that works in conjunction with its electric motor.
A North Carolina manufacturer, SylvanSport, has teamed up with Zeus Electric Chassis on a fully electric RV. Still on the drawing board, their version recalls a Sprinter visually and promises up to 400 miles per charge. And, of course, there’s Tesla’s highly publicized Cybertruck and its CyberLandr camper, which is due out in 2022.
What Are the Benefits of an Electric RV?
An electric RV will likely cost a lot more upfront, but there are quite a few payoffs. The big one is zero emissions. EVs offer a quiet, smooth ride and will reduce or even eliminate fuel costs. With fewer stops for fuel, you can improve your travel time. Besides that, a drivable RV without a conventional engine would offer more storage space, and that’s always a plus.
Will Airstream’s EVs Be Well-Received?
When Airstream does get its electric RVs rolling, we believe RVers will welcome them with open arms. The iconic company has a solid track record and has changed with the times while maintaining its classic aesthetic.
There’s another element, too, and it’s something you can’t really put a price on. There’s a certain cachet when it comes to owning an Airstream. Whether it’s vintage or contemporary, these sleek coaches and trailers turn heads wherever they go. An all-electric Airstream promises to be all-out cool. Would you consider getting an electric RV in the future?
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