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Are electric RVs coming?


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Leading RV manufacturer Thor Industries, the parent company of the iconic Airstream brand, announced that it had signed a binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with German auto supplier ZF to give Thor companies exclusive rights to ZF’s eTrailer System in a travel trailer RV. The goal is a new kind of camper that would maintain – and possibly extend – the nominal range of an electric vehicle while towing.

The basic idea is this: you put batteries into the space between a travel trailer’s frame rails, and replace one of the dummy axles with an electric drive axle. The trailer is now, basically, an EV that can power itself forward. It communicates with the car through the 4-pin connector in the same way RVs do now to engage brake lights and ABS, simply applying torque to the axle when the driver of the tow vehicle presses on the “go” pedal.

The full story.... Thor Signs With ZF

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In the several discussions about the switch to electric vehicles for RVing whether for use as a toad, tow vehicle or this concept, one thing that I think is missing  is the impact on campground electrical infrastructure and even the supporting utility company infrastructure supplying a campground. What upgrades will be required to provide a sufficiently rapid vehicle charge as well as power for the typical RV systems. It is my understanding that there are EV battery chargers that can use the RV 50amp outlet to provide a charge in a reasonable amount of time. It is also my understanding that use of 120volt outlets for charging EV batteries is a slow process. Most campgrounds that I have been to have only one 50amp outlet per site and many are not capable of powering the 50amp, 30amp and 20amp circuits simultaneously. So, does the EV owner rent one site for the 50amp RV and a second to charge the EV? Do the try to get by plugging the EV into an outlet on the RV? Does the campground owner install meters on every site or designated EV sites so that they can fairly charge for the power used to charge the EV?

Other questions come to mind for boondockers. How big of a solar system would be required to recharge EV batteries in a reasonable amount of time? Can enough solar panels be placed on the typical RV to keep the batteries charged while underway? If not, since solar only works during daylight hours, how does that affect travel? Drive at night, recharge during the day? Travel only every other day? Use a 240V generator to recharge?

It will be interesting to see how a transition to all electric RVs progresses.

Edited by trailertraveler
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43 minutes ago, trailertraveler said:

It will be interesting to see how a transition to all electric RVs progresses.

I doubt that many of us will live long enough to see the vehicles all electric but there is no doubt that we will see a lot more electric vehicles. I would expect to see the hybrid vehicle market to continue growing also, even though the all electric is making more news at present. But I am also fairly sure that there must be potential in the story as Thor has a pretty successful record in the RV industry so they probably have at least some knowledge of the RV market. 

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7 hours ago, trailertraveler said:

In the several discussions about the switch to electric vehicles for RVing whether for use as a toad, tow vehicle or this concept, one thing that I think is missing  is the impact on campground electrical infrastructure and even the supporting utility company infrastructure supplying a campground. What upgrades will be required to provide a sufficiently rapid vehicle charge as well as power for the typical RV systems. It is my understanding that there are EV battery chargers that can use the RV 50amp outlet to provide a charge in a reasonable amount of time. It is also my understanding that use of 120volt outlets for charging EV batteries is a slow process. Most campgrounds that I have been to have only one 50amp outlet per site and many are not capable of powering the 50amp, 30amp and 20amp circuits simultaneously. So, does the EV owner rent one site for the 50amp RV and a second to charge the EV? Do the try to get by plugging the EV into an outlet on the RV? Does the campground owner install meters on every site or designated EV sites so that they can fairly charge for the power used to charge the EV?

Other questions come to mind for boondockers. How big of a solar system would be required to recharge EV batteries in a reasonable amount of time? Can enough solar panels be placed on the typical RV to keep the batteries charged while underway? If not, since solar only works during daylight hours, how does that affect travel? Drive at night, recharge during the day? Travel only every other day? Use a 240V generator to recharge?

It will be interesting to see how a transition to all electric RVs progresses.

Two Summers ago I would often see a Tesla sitting in one of the vacant RV spots in the park I was staying in. It had a cord running to the pedestal. I didn't ever see a person around the car and didn't venture close enough to it to see if someone was sleeping in it.  

I have thought about getting an electric  car to utilize it's battery for storage of my solar power (once I fill the roof with them). Problem is they don't currently share their power very well. I have read of plans for sharing, but haven't actually seen one except for that Ford pickup in Texas that powered a portion of a house last year during the very cold snap they had. 

I have also heard as soon as a True Electric HDT is put on the road soon after there will be a large trailer built with enough solar panels to run the truck down the road and then have plenty of power when parked to take care of everything (as long as it's sunny I assume). 

Kirk, don't sell yourself short. Things have a history of popping up pretty quickly here in the good ole' USofA

 

Rod

 

 

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44 minutes ago, lappir said:

Things have a history of popping up pretty quickly here in the good ole' USofA

No doubt about that. I often think back to my basic electricity training in the Navy when one of the instructors began his lecture by saying, "Today we will have a brief introduction to the transistor, just in case you should ever see one." That was in January of 1961.

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9 hours ago, GlennWest said:

Would have to have a huge battery. Likely hurt storage space. 

The battery only powers the RV, not the EV. The trailer propels itself to mitigate the extra load the trailer places on the EV that would otherwise shorten the range, or the trailer can even help extend the EV's range by providing more propulsion than just needed to compensate for the load. Placing the battery or batteries between the frame rails should minimize any impact on storage space, but it could take some creative engineering for fresh and waste tank placement.

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24 minutes ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Placing the battery or batteries between the frame rails should minimize any impact on storage space, but it could take some creative engineering for fresh and waste tank placement.

Use of lithium batteries would minimize the weight increase and it probably would leave enough space for typical waste tanks.

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It's all in the future. Folks have been promisingvthe battery "revolutions" for decades. Yes we are a bit closer but they always over promise. And under deliver. Ask yourself how many older state and national parks have the power infrastructure that could cope?

FWIW those followings Dakar rally will see some interesting concept vehicles. Audi battery powered cars. Hydrogen cars and trucks. 

It will come but only after it becomes a commercially viable option for manufactures, users and facility providers. ie will every gas station remove several gas pumps so you can take an hour or two to recharge your battery. Lots of questions. Not to mention ejat to do with the old batteries.

My money's  on hydrogen.

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Here's the thing: This change surely is coming. There may be a lot of sacrifices, such as we might have to stay in one spot longer for batteries to charge until the infrastructure is upgraded and better batteries-- or changeable batteries-- are developed. (Oh, woe is me!! I can't rush off to the the next campground the very next day!! I have to actually stay in one campground! Wahh) Those are relatively minor sacrifices when the alternative is arriving at a campground only to find it was wiped out by a once in a hundred year weather event that now comes along every ten years at present, but will be more frequent in the near future. I see this topic come up often in RVing sites and my advice is to put on your big boy (or girl) pants and accept we are in the midst of an existential crisis that is not fake, not unproven, not going away without decisive action, not going to ruin everything when we have to make some changes. There are completely viable solutions not mentioned here but we will have to be part of the solution if we want to continue RVing.

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And what about the families that have limited vacation time and need to put in 500 miles or so in order to get to their destination?  200 miles and stop for an overnight recharge will not work for them.  Same goes for a service technician that has to drive several hundred miles to get to hos next assignment.

EVs are just part of the answer to helping the planet.  We have a long road ahead of us to get to the point that we are mostly driving EVs.  I am 74 years old, and I doubt if I will see it in my lifetime.

Ken

Edited by TXiceman
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No doubt this topic will go down some deep rabbit hole with differing opinions. Before it does I'll just say that in my opinion no government will "force" a chance. It has to come via good ol fashion market demand. Consumers will determine how much that they are prepared to change. All the EV dreams may well turn out to be just that. Dreams. Hydrogen etc etc may leapfrog the EV industry just like VHS jumped Beta. 

My money is on some sort of hybrid. 

FWIW here in Australia large American fossil fuelled pickups out sell EVs by approx 5 to 1. What's that tell you about consumer sentiment?

 

Edited by bruce t
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3 hours ago, TXiceman said:

And what about the families that have limited vacation time and need to put in 500 miles or so in order to get to their destination?  200 miles and stop for an overnight recharge will not work for them.  Same goes for a service technician that has to drive several hundred miles to get to hos next assignment.

EVs are just part of the answer to helping the planet.  We have a long road ahead of us to get to the point that we are mostly driving EVs.  I am 74 years old, and I doubt if I will see it in my lifetime.

Ken

What about the families whose homes were incinerated across the west, flooded in Huston by four FEET of rain, their building lots wiped clean by gulf coast hurricanes, who lived in towns that within mere minutes became piles of rubble when what they got for Christmas was tornadoes? As usual, most of the nay saying is a failure of imagination. Since these are families of the future, they might make other choices; it isn't as though RVing is the only way, RVs are how some of us do things right now. What I point out is that the industry will survive, not every change is going to "RUIN EVERYTHING!!!" I'm not far behind in age and I expect to see a lot of the changes put into action while I'm still RVing and I am sure as heck that some people will rudely tell early adapters how some devil of their imagination is laughing as they take up the new ways. Been in that position many times myself and have concluded some people just can't miss an opportunity to be negative. 

Edited by Dan23
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47 minutes ago, Dan23 said:

 Been in that position many times myself and have concluded some people just can't miss an opportunity to be negative. 

I think that people are afraid of change and so try and find flaws - - staying with. things you know is easier, if boring.   My mother had a Philco double oven that was built into our new house in 1960.  The bottom was a pastry drawer that was a convection oven.   They quit making them because so many people didn't understand how a convection oven worked and were not willing to learn.   Took decades before they became common again.  

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I hope that this won't get into politics or environmental debates. It is pretty clear that changes are coming, just as they have in so many other areas of life. Exactly what those changes will be is the difficult part but whatever company predicts the future most accurately and invests in the new products will be the one still around when those changes come. If Thor invests heavily enough and proves to be wrong, they could go the way of the original Fleetwood, who was the largest manufacturer of RVs or any type before they went into bankruptcy back in 2009.

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6 hours ago, bruce t said:

FWIW here in Australia large American fossil fuelled pickups out sell EVs by approx 5 to 1. What's that tell you about consumer sentiment?

 

One reason gas big pickups outsell EV pickups in Australia is that AFAIK you don't have any you can buy there . . . yet:

"Although there are currently no commercially available electric trucks for sale in Australia, expect that situation to change as Electric Vehicles (EVs) increase in popularity and start to flood the marketplace."

Source from July 2021: https://www.carsguide.com.au/ev/advice/the-five-best-electric-utes-heading-to-australia-83988

None of those EV pickups are for sale in the US except the Rivian and they have only made about 1200 to date. My order will be filled in mid 2023, at the earliest according to Rivian, the only EV pickup that can even be ordered today other than the Ford which our local dealer gets one of every couple of months until much later in the year.

I always had  1 ton then 3/4 ton diesel pickups pickup since retiring in 1997.

We also always had three vehicles since we both worked when I was active duty and did not want to be at the mercy of anything if one had to be repaired. Since 1997 we had a 1 ton diesel Dually long bed RAM and then long bed 2500 Rams until we moved here.

The reason I don't have one now is that the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian R1T, which is in slow ramp up production and I did order, cannot be had until 2023. Yes you can order the one for $30k more than my $67k well equipped model and those will be what is delivered for 2022 according to Rivian.

Audi just announced their entire car/SUV model line will be electric by 2025, along with most of the industry.

I do believe that the RV industry will go EV too, and that when Tesla and whoever else decides to compete with the current EV bus manufacturers like BYD, along with Tesla in the OTR longer haul HDTs willl develop a chassis for motorhomes too.

However, since we are an RV forum and not the folks who don't know a class A from a B or C, or think a trailer is only a bumper pull we need to acknowledge that a fiver going down the road is an RV too. We have seen Tesla cars already towing trailers just fine albeit with reduced range.

See I was an RVr towing fivers with a diesel dually Ram for seven years, and my part time rigs with Ram diesels too until I sold my last diesl truck in 2019.

My friends with Travel trailer drivers are also RVrs and if they pull with an EV truck or SUV/sedan that is their RV.

So EV RVs are already here.

I just got off the phone with Phil Long Ford in the Springs and they do not have a demo E150 lightning and he said they would likely only be a dribble for 2022 as they are only allocated one every couple of months.

I submit that, like Tesla waiting until 2023 to bring out the Cybertruck, and my delivery date for my Rivian for mid to late 2023, we really won't see RVs with EV drive train trucks or later motorhomes commonly until 2023/2024 or later.

If the question is "are electric motorhomes coming" that is a separate question from RVs which encompass all the classes of RVs self-propelled or towed.

I towed a fiver for seven years full time with a 1990 1 Ton Ram diesel dually which got 18 mpg off load as a passenger truck, but dropped down to 10 mpg with the 5th wheel attached and down to 7MPG with strong headwinds or in the mountains.

So I am surprised when experienced RVrs with trailers act shocked that towing can cut the range up to 50% when towing with an EV -Duh?

My rule when we fulltimed for seven years I called the RV Roadie 2X2X2 rule. We traveled no more than 200 miles a day, arrived by 2 pm, stayed at least 2 days. We always stopped for lunch because we were fully retired and hustle was no longer a goal. Besides we would stay one night to relax, the next day to explore and leave on the third day unless we found we wanted to see more and those stayed could be a month! So towing with a Rivian R1T would give us at least 150 miles with a load and we would route to fast chargers in the middle when we did lunch so having an electric RV would not change our travels and if a Tesla Cybertruck would not make our hour long lunch break longer than before. I have no idea of the charging networks for Rivian fast charging.

So unless you are trying to say that only motorhomes are RVs, (NOT!) there are already EV RVs and more every day.

Here is a MOTORTREND article December 15 2021 towing and range test with a Rivian R1T:

So they EV RVs exist now. YMMV 😉

 

 

 

Edited by RV_
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RV please show me where I mentioned electric pickups. This is the rabbit hole I was talking about. 'Use any statement and interpret it in a way that suites an agenda'.

Now I will repeat. Australians buy far more fossil fuel guzzling American pickup than they do EVs. The implication for those who need a translation is that many Australians simply don't care about the EV v fossil fuel debate. They want a vehicle that suits their wants and needs. The market will supply those wants and needs. No amount of lecturing from the so call knowledgeable folks will change what consumers want. The market will set the pace. Not ideology. FWIW fossil fuel cars still outsell EVs even in inner city locations. Maybe it's got something to do with recharging your EV while living on the 8th floor of a block of units.

FWIW some mining industries have been testing electric trucks. Those trucks simply don't leave the work site. So research using those as an example can't be used and applied to the general market.

Another example are the headlines about the mining companies converting to electric trains as an example of how things are changing. First the locos they now use are diesel generators powering AC motor. So already using electric power. These are dedicated iron ore lines with up to 2 mile long unmanned trains. Not typical railroads. Converting to all electric with all the associated infrastructure isn't the same as applying that same technology to all trains.

There's a point I'm trying to make without falling down the rabbit hole myself. The point is that we can't take one headline or one example and say this is what the future holds. It's simply not that simple. If one RV company is successful in building an all electric drive RV then we can't make the statement that the future is here or even coming. No it's just one example. When more RV companies follow and consumers make an informed choice to go EV then yes the future is on it's way. But being selective with reporting and news items isn't the future. And trolling through tens of thousands of web sites to find a news item that suits are argument is simply paranoia.

The thread is "Are electric RVs coming?". The discussion is about electric RVs. Not climate change. Not politics. Not ideology. Not forcing others to believe in what you believe in.

 

 

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I just reread this and see the charging myths again. Now I can only speak to what I know, my Tesla Model Y. Here is an article for all the folks that believe the takes a day to charge myths from December 2021, just a few weeks ago:

"3. How Long Does It Take To Charge A Tesla With A Super Charger?

It takes only about 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to charge any model of Tesla at the charging stations using a super charger. If you are using a Tesla Model S or X, it will take close to 1 hour. While a Tesla Model 3 or Y will take 30 to 45 minutes to fully charge the battery."

Source:

https://royalmechanic.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-charge-a-tesla/#:~:text=It takes only about 30 minutes to 1.5,to 45 minutes to fully charge the battery.

30 to 45 minutes to fully charge my Tesla at a supercharger.

At home my charging circuit charges at only 30 miles range per hour and I user the standard non-trip charge limit of 270 miles instead of the full 326 miles range, and I don't let it get below 40 miles range before charging to get max life out of my batteries. So if I plug it in at 10 pm t will be fully charged from 0 to 270 miles of range in 9 hours at home in my garage.

Second myth is that EV owners are all tree huggers. I got EV fever the first time we spent a week ski trip to Zermatt Switzerland (The Matterhorn) which has not allowed ICE engines of any kind since 1978. So when we were assigned to Germany and skiing Europe Jan 1990-Jan 1997 we used all my 30 day leaves and all four day weekends to ski Austria (6 hours), Switzerland (6 hours). France like Albertville (7hours) and the Zugspitz in Germany.

Zermatt had electric taxis (free) and delivery trucks, we had to park in another village at the bottom and take the electric cog railway up. Loved it! The electric cars were so fast and quiet I wanted one. That was 1993 when we went there the first time. It took 27 years until June 2020 until I bought my Tesla.

But I restored built and owned many hot VWs I put custom engines in, MGs, a Porsche 911, BMW 5 series and Big Mercedes, along with a '78 non-smog Dodge Lil red Truck, a 260Z, etc. I love vehicles especially well engineered cars, sports cars, luxury cars, motorcycles. I am an enthusiast and unless you have driven a Tesla or other 0-60 < 4 second vehicle with that low center of gravity you just do not have any idea.  I don't care if folks do or don't but lots of folks in RW and online sure do try to tell us the latest myths they "heard" from the never drove an EV experts.

So as far as EVs are concerned, I am apolitical, and certainly not a tree hugger. If my driving an EV helps anything that's great but had nothing to do with my decision. See I honestly don't care what their choices are. But if one is so interested they seek out all the negatives and have never even done a test drive of an EV, well, I am not going to the war they are constantly waging with themselves. Life's too short.

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No interpretation. You said

"FWIW here in Australia large American fossil fuelled pickups out sell EVs by approx 5 to 1. What's that tell you about consumer sentiment?"

I agree having owned big American pickups that spew particulates when I was towing, and if I was towing today I would use until the Rivian and/or Cyber truck were delivery ready.

Let me be clearer. You really just said that consumers there prefer big pickups to EV cars. I did too until we moved here and sold our last Trailer and Ram 2500 Diesel long bed RV in 2019. 

I bet that they buy way more fossil fueled cars than EVs too. In fact I bet Aussies buy way more Fossil fueled cars than pickup trucks. Does that mean that they much prefer smaller cars?

We are both, like the others here on this RV forum who lived/live the dream, fortunate enough to be able to buy RVs, fancy trucks and some of us EVs. Others are not so fortunate.

I am in it for the high performance and the superb handling, and of course the thrill of that launch even from a stoplight to the speed limit.

From a rational perspective I do think we need to transition to renewables faster. Not because of climate change, but because everyone seems to have forgotten that fossil fuels are finite. When we have burned all the oil and coal and gone to the wood and  . . . it would be too late to start research, development, and implementation when we run out, whenever that is. I have beautiful grand children and great grand children so I'll be dead before we run out of fossil fuels rationale doesn't hold for me. If another does not care about future energy needs which we can fulfill with renewables including geothermal energy mining Lithium from the geo waste water too as one idea being looked into, that's their problem. Will it work? Beats me, we'll see. If we go renewable the transition will go cheaper and smoother from fossil fuels. However, my one Tesla purchase and eventual EV truck buy has little effect on that. I bought for the fun factor. If others feel the same and buy the performance, the rest takes care of itself. Or not.

No name calling of tree-hugger or the opposite trying to say EVs cause more carbon . . . I say carbon shmarbon - they are a hoot! I bought the Hoot!👍👍

Edited by RV_
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RV none of us know the future. Henry Ford didn't. He, like many others, took a risk. Some blacksmiths never! My whole point is that ideaollogy won't chance squat. Good sensible logic and capitalism will. 

But I wouldn't bet my house on EVs. Don't forget hydrogen. Yes there's a lot of work to do. Hydrogen negates the negative "long charge" time of EVs. Remember not all power outlets will be or can be super chargers. But regular gas stations may become hydrogen stations. Infrastructure for electricity is way more expensive than hydrogen storage. Who knows. Maybe, like Toyota, there will be a move back to hybrids. A bet each way maybe.

I want clean and green. But I also want something that is affordable and usable.

 

 

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Bruce what ideology?

I am a dieselhead and a Tesla owner. It is not theories or ideologies it is my personally owned rubber meeting the road vehicles.

I will say it again, I like fast superbly handling cars. I was not arguing with you about environment. I don't care what you drive or what is uses for energy.

I like fast cars and trucks. I cannot wait to owna Rivian or Cybertruck that can do 0-60 in 3 seconds and do the MOAB Hell's Gate rock climb stock with just a tire change:

"Owners are wasting no time exploring the great outdoors, and footage posted on YouTube shows how the model handles Hells Gate in Utah.

Part of the Sand Flats Recreation Area in the south of the Beehive State, Hells Gate is a steep, bumpy trail that's almost a rite of passage for off-roaders. Making it all the way up is a challenge; getting there in an unmodified vehicle is even more difficult. And yet, as the four-minute video shows, the R1T slowly but surely crawls up the canyon, allegedly without the slightest modification and on factory-fitted all-terrain tires."

Good article on the TV for RVs now being delivered slooooowly, with a video of it doing it stock:

https://www.autoblog.com/2021/09/29/rivian-r1t-pickup-video-hells-gate-moab-utah/

 

Edited by RV_
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Every convenience store and gas station could add some level of EV charging stations at a much lower cost than upgrading or building new refueling stations for bulk hydrogen that's stored at 5,000-10,000 PSI. There are a number of programs such as AEP's in Ohio, that will pickup 100% of the charging station installation costs. And I suspect the liability insurance costs for having bulk hydrogen tanks on site would not come cheap, while existing business liability plans could easily include coverage for charging stations, or at least with a low cost rider. 

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