Carmakers finally know how to build electric cars that can drive further than old-fashioned gas guzzlers. But there’s still one major hurdle for electrification—heavy duty trucks and recreational vehicles weigh too much for existing batteries and electric powertrains. And unfortunately, Winnebago’s first all-electric camper concept proves this point.
Winnebago showed off its e-RV electric camper concept during Florida’s RV SuperShow on January 19th. It’s an attractive, modified Ford Transit van with a Lightning eMotors electric powertrain and an 86kWh battery pack. Like any respectable camper, the Winnebago e-RV also features amenities like a shower, kitchenette, and bed.
Unfortunately, the e-RV only has a 125-mile range, significantly less than the average electric car. And because the e-RV uses a single battery for both travel and amenities, any time spent in your kitchenette could reduce this camper’s travel distance.
Here’s something weird—Winnebago and Lightning eMotors don’t think the limited range is a big deal. Check out this quote from Kash Sethi, chief revenue officer of Lightning eMotors:
We agree with Winnebago Industries’ view that there is a significant opportunity for shorter-range electric RVs—day trippers to the beach, family sports days, and tailgaters, to name a few.
While I stand by some arguments for short-range EVs (most people don’t drive 125 miles unless they’re traveling), the whole point in a camper is that it’s a home away from home. Plus, campers aren’t cheap, and electrifying them won’t make them any cheaper! The idea that someone would buy something this expensive just to visit the beach is a bit farfetched. (To be fair, I could see a very well-off family using one of these for weekend campground visits, provided that the campground has charging stations.)
Thankfully, the Winnebago e-RV is just a concept. Winnebago says that it could increase the range of future electric campers through improved battery technology, which seems inevitable. Companies like GM are already working on heavy duty EVs, which should provide the basis for long-range electric campers.