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Electric RVs, Explained

Electric RVs, Explained

Electric RVs have been hitting the headlines like gangbusters this past year. 

But are any available for purchase yet? What exactly is an electric RV, and how well does it run?

If you’re wondering whether electric RVs are a passing fad or an absolute part of our future, we’ve got you covered. 

We’re exploring what an electric RV is and why we’re interested.

Let’s go!

What is an Electric RV?

An electric RV is the latest motorized vehicle powered by electricity instead of gasoline. Electric vehicles have been around for over 100 years. Public busses, rail, and park carts were more common ‘EVs’ than passenger cars until about 20 years ago.

Some models are hybrid vehicles that use both gas and electricity, such as the Chevy Volt or Honda Hybrid. Fully electric vehicles, such as those made by Tesla and Ford, are increasing in popularity.

Electric vehicles have an electric motor instead of a gas engine. Instead of filling a gas tank, you charge the battery by plugging it into a charging station.

Winnebago and Thor have both unveiled electric RV concept models in 2022. 

Winnebago’s Electric RV Concept

Winnebago’s eRV is a class B campervan built on a Ford Transit platform. It’s an all-electric, zero-emission RV. You can charge the van at your home, campgrounds, or a dedicated charging station. 

All appliances, such as the refrigerator, water heater, and cooktop, will run on electricity. The entire system of controls in the Winnebago RV can be monitored and operated through a tablet or smartphone app.

Pro Tip: Want to know more about Winnebago’s electric RV? We uncovered everything you need to know about This All-Electric RV Isn’t a Pipe Dream, It’s a Winnebago.

Thor’s Two Electric RVs

Thor Industries took the idea of an app-based system control to the next level with its new eStream concept. Revealed in January 2022, the eStream electric Airstream can be moved and parked on its own power using a remote. 

The eStream is built on a high voltage electric chassis – the ZF eTrailer System. This proprietary system enables the camper to communicate with the tow vehicle while driving, allowing smoother travel. 

Does this sound like science fiction yet? You know how RV brake lights can now operate in sync with your tow lights while you drive. Right? That’s another example of vehicle systems’ communication. 

According to Thor Industries, this electric drive system eliminates range penalties and improves fuel efficiency for your tow vehicle.

Thor also revealed their Vision Vehicle concept in early 2022. This large class B+ motorhome on a Ford Transit chassis is a hybrid model, using both an electric battery and a fuel cell to run. The RV incorporates several weight-saving designs that enable the van to go almost 300 miles on one charge. 

In comparison, Winnebago eRV can go about 125 before it needs to stop for charging.

Concept Electric RVs Introduced to the US Public

All of this is very exciting. There are many other cool features with both Winnebago and Thor Electric RVs. The question is, when will consumers get to buy them?

As of February 2022, the Winnebago and Thor electric RVs are concept vehicles. A concept vehicle is a prototype meant to showcase new technology and upcoming model styles. Both companies revealed their electric RV models during the 2022 Florida RV Supershow. 

According to Business Insider, Thor says we can expect to see both electric RVs sometime in 2023. However, there’s no exact release date and no price tag from either company.

Mercedes-Benz also revealed an electric van concept in 2022. The EVQ is a camper conversion vehicle. At this point, it seems like a well-built van with a pull-out bed. 

Volkswagon has an EV camper van in the works called the ID.California. But few details have been released. The ID.buzz van, another VW model, may hit the market in 2023.

So, what gives? Are electric RVs available in other parts of the world?

Pro Tip: Want to invest in an electric car? We broke down just How Much Is a Tesla (and Is It Worth It?)

European Electric RVs

Hooray! There are indeed electric RVs on the market! But you have to go to Europe to find them. The Iridium E-Mobile is the world’s first electric RV, debuting in Germany in January 2019. This mini camper RV has all your basic needs with a bed, bathroom, shower, and kitchen. It’s a little over 22 feet in length, and newer models can go almost 250 miles before needing to be recharged.

The Nissan e-NV200 camper van has a pop-top and cleverly laid-out interior. The fridge, sink, and espresso machine run off the same electric power source. UK-based Hillside Leisure offers a similar model. 

National incentives for buying an electric vehicle or installing an EV charger are increasing across the UK and Europe. Perks range from tax incentives and reserved parking spots to purchase grants in countries like Germany. Apps such as Zap Map make it easy to find your nearest charging station.

Why Electric RVs Matter

Of course, electric RVs are better for the environment, but let’s talk first about the advantages an eRV will bring us as avid, freedom-loving RVers.

eRV Bonuses

Many RV parks already have electric vehicle charging stations. And the number of stations nationwide keeps growing. Rivian and Under Canvas announced plans to bring charging stations to Zion, Moab, and the Grand Canyon. In addition, models like the Winnebego EV should be able to charge at any regular RV power outlet.

We may be looking at a future where stopping for gas becomes obsolete. Your campground is at once your destination and electric ‘fuel’ station. Plus, charging will cost less than fueling up.

The next bonus comes from using electricity when you’re parked—no more propane. Planned wisely, you can go off-grid and still have a hot water source, running refrigerator, and heat. Auto and RV companies are racing to make electric vehicles more efficient by every measure. More powerful batteries mean more hours in range. This means even more off-grid possibilities.

Additional perks of electric RVs include more clearance with hitched campers, solar-paneled roofs, and app-based parking systems. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, which means less maintenance under the hood. 

Everything about the design of electric vehicles circles around efficiency. No gears and instant acceleration. The benefits of owning an electric RV keep growing with ever-increasing advancements in technology.

The Environment

Maybe most importantly, eRVs matter because of why many of us own an RV in the first place: the great outdoors. The nature that soothes us, and the wildlife we love to be around, suffer greatly from fuel pollution. 

Electric vehicles improve air quality, use eco-friendly materials, and help lower global greenhouse gas emissions.

eRV Disadvantages

The big downside to driving an electric RV is the range. That is, the distance you can travel before you reach the next charging station. This creates a two-fold issue. First, how far can the vehicle drive from one charge? Second, how spread out are the charging stations? As we’ve seen, the current range is between 125 and 250 miles.

Boondockers may also struggle to keep their systems running without enough alternative energy sources such as solar and lithium batteries. Getting used to everything using electricity may be a learning curve for some.

Overall, though, we feel the pros outweigh the cons.

eRVs Are On the Way

Electric RVs are rolling in. It’s just a matter of time before we see them hit the market in America. And we’re ready for them. Sure, the RV industry has its fair share of growing pains to work out before eRVs can become mainstream. But just about every manufacturer is up for the challenge.

What are your thoughts on electric RVs? Do you see yourself going for a test drive? Tell us in the comments!

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Are Electric Vehicles More Likely to Catch Fire? - Drivin' & Vibin'

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

[…] Pro Tip: Electric cars aren’t the only eco-friendly travel option on the market! Take a closer look at our deep dive on Electric RVs. […]

James Harris

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Jay..I have the exact same concern with these EVs….you would think that any forward thinking “green energy” promoting environmentalist would be losing their collective minds over this issue…not a peep…another point..do these people have any idea where the electricity comes from that magically shows up at their precious charging stations?…no one can seriously think that it will produced by wind mills and solar panels…most certainly it will come from natural gas, nuclear, and coal fired power plants…do they realize this?..everyone now is so fixated on the price of gas..local news reports on it endlessly…I want to know how much it costs to “plug in” for an hour or more to fill up an EV…how about if you have to wait for your turn?…what value do you put on your time to wait??..how will the government collect lost revenues they get from taxes imposed on gasoline…how about someone crunch all the numbers and come up with an honest and realistic cost per mile to own an EV vs gas powered…

Jay

Wednesday 9th of February 2022

I have a problem with all this talk about "electric" vehicles in that the companies building them have no way to dispose of batteries that no longer function. The chemicals used are NOT recyclable and the cost to replace one will cost about as much as the vehicle itself. Because of these issues there will be many hazardous chemicals leaching into the ground where they will be "collecting" these dead batteries/vehicles such as in France where they purchased thousands of electric Police vehicles and discarded them in fields across the country to rot away because of defects.

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