Consider it #vanlife with an electric jolt: In January, Winnebago Industries unveiled the e-RV, the company's first all-electric motorhome. And the company proved what the e-RV concept has to offer by recently taking it on a test road trip. The vehicle drove from Washington, D.C., to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, a 1,380-mile trip, making it the first trip over 1,000 miles for an electric RV ever. During the 26-hour drive, the average time spent at DC fast chargers was 1 hour and 2 minutes. But the real question is, how much did the trip cost, sans time at the gas pump? The whopping total charging cost was $275, less than half of what it might have cost based on the average $5 a gallon gas prices.
Introduced at the 2022 Florida RV Super Show, the eco-friendly, zero-emission concept vehicle runs on a 86-kWh battery, giving the motorhome a driving range of around 125 miles (for comparison, Tesla's long-range electric vehicles are around 400 miles). Inside the RV, the battery powers amenities like a slide-out induction cooktop, a marine-grade refrigerator, and a roof-mounted air conditioner. In order to "refuel," the battery can be charged at high-current charging stations.
Decked out in eco-friendly and sustainable materials, the motorhome includes recycled cork-rubber flooring and woolen wall appliques that enhance thermal and wall insulation. As for internet access, Winnebago's newest vehicle touts high performance Wi-Fi through a dual-modem router — perfect for uploading your own expertly curated road trip photos to Instagram. Lightning eMotors provides the electrical power system, which powers the living quarters, controls, and drivetrain.
The price of Winnebago's e-RV has yet to be announced, but the company's other motorhomes start around $115,000.
"Consumer demand is driving electric power applications across many fronts, and we believe RV consumers are poised to benefit from the enhanced features and usability that electrified and connected RV products will provide," Ashis Bhattacharya, a Winnebago Industries senior vice president, said in a January news release. "Winnebago Industries has an ongoing mission to listen to and learn from our customers as we continue refining, exploring, and innovating, and the e-RV concept vehicle is a perfect example of this."
Winnebago isn't the only company to introduce an electric RV — Thor Industries announced its own battery-powered campervan a day after Winnebego's reveal. But it might be a while before the new electric vehicles are brought to market. In January, Winnebago CEO Michael Happe told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that he would release production updates "later in calendar year 2022."
Considering upgrading your current RV to an electric version? You're not alone. A 2020 Consumer Reports survey indicated that 71% of U.S. drivers are thinking about buying one in the future, and almost a third indicated that their next vehicle purchase would be electric. Now all we need are more chargers.
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