All-Electric Motorhome Coming to the RV Marketplace in 2019

Climate change forecasts grow more dire by the day. But a new all-electric motorhome could shine a bright spot in the bleakness when it hits the European marketplace in early 2019.

iridium electric motorhome
The Iridium all-electric motorhome. Image: EFA-S & WOF.

The RV of the Climate Change Age: Iridium, the All-Electric Motorhome is Here

By the time you read this article, a real world all-electric motorhome will be on its way to the January 2019 CMT travel trade show in Stuttgart, Germany.

The exciting clean energy breakthrough in the European campervan industry is the result of a partnership between two German automobile companies, WOF and ElektroFahrzeuge Stuttgart (EFA-S). Both are known for their work in the country’s robust electric vehicle marketplace. The campervan’s electric-powered chassis is built by WOF, while the drivetrain and battery technology is made by EFA-S. Swiss RV designer, Maurer Fahrzeugbau built the RV body. The end result is a sleek motorhome that’s a leap forward in the clean energy vehicle marketplace.

Images of the interior won’t be released until after the January reveal. But this promotional video of a conceptual solar-powered RV design highlights what Iridium’s European-style living quarters might look like:

Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries: the Electric RV Breakthrough

Until now, the biggest obstacle in creating an all-electric motorhome has been wind. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move a heavy, tall vehicle at 65 miles per hour. A RV’s wind resistance places a huge load on batteries. This limits most large electric vehicles to a short driving range, typically under 100 miles of travel before they need recharging.

The Iridium all-electric motorhome will be different. Each is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries (the same type used in Dometic’s new portable PLB40 battery). Don’t confuse lithium iron phosphate batteries with lithium ion batteries.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are the new kid on the block. They weigh less, are more efficient than lead acid batteries, have a longer life expectancy, and require less maintenance than old-school lithium ion batteries. This video explains more lithium iron phosphate battery advantages:

Meanwhile the Iridium RV has a travel range of about 125 miles — for now. Company representatives say that rapidly changing developments in the RV battery marketplace will give buyers’ driving range a boost in in the near future.

“Iridium customers can benefit from the fact that battery capacity is rapidly increasing,” says EFA-S Managing Director Bastian Beutel in the press release. “The same vehicle can, therefore, more than double its range in the near future with the same battery weight by replacing the battery”.

Travel distances aren’t as much of a problem in the densely populated areas inside Europe. Thankfully, Iridum buyers won’t need to worry too much about where they recharge the batteries. Each of these units comes with an integrated charger. This component enables owners to charge batteries anywhere from campgrounds to electric vehicle charging stations.

Meanwhile Across the RV Pond  . . .

all-electric motorhome
Winnebago’s experimental all-electric motorhome.

Back in the States, Winnebago is currently toying with their version of an electric specialty motorhome vehicle. The experimental RV is so new it doesn’t even have a name yet, but Ashis Bhattacharya, Vice President, Strategic Planning and Development, and leader of the Specialty Vehicles Division, says this is just the first step in a marketplace Winnebago will be a part of. “We believe that all-electric vehicle applications continue to evolve to serve numerous end-user needs and this is our first step as a participant in this space,” says Bhattacharya.

 



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Real-Time Campsite Availability Is Finally Coming Soon

A quick Google search will tell you about current traffic delays or hotel vacancies. So why can’t we just as easily find real-time information on campsite availability?

campsite
Real-time information on campsite availability is coming soon. Photo by Jason Mrachina/Flickr

The thing is, federal and state-run campgrounds have had long-term contracts with private businesses. These contracts have given the businesses exclusive control over the online reservations for public land campsites, including the sites in national forests, on BLM land, and in our National Parks.

For example, Aspira, the parent company of ReserveAmerica, created the software that millions of campers use to reserve sites in over 4,500 public and privately-owned parks. In 2013, Aspira shared campsite data with websites like HipCamp, but after their contract came up for bid, the information was no longer available.

Consequently, the founder of HipCamp and other activists lobbied the government to make real-time campsite information available to the public. The grassroots movement grew to include more than 50 organizations like REI and the Sierra Club.

By July 2015, their lobbying efforts paid off. The federal government announced that the new contractor is required to provide real-time updates on campsite availability through an application programming interface (API), which is the same type of modern software used by other websites like Hotels.com. They also require that the new contractor work with third parties such as HipCamp, and other websites or apps, who want to make this information easily available to campers.

In October 2018, Booz Allen Hamilton, a Virginia-based management and technology consulting firm, will take over in Aspira’s place, managing online reservations for about 100,000 federal campsites. The state park campgrounds, however, are still an entirely different story.

Right now, 32 states still have contracts with Aspira, while the other 18 have deals with other vendors. Aspira’s CEO told Outside Magazine that they share campsite data with other vendors on a case-by-case basis, however Outside couldn’t find an example of that. Recreation.gov did offer an iPhone app, but as of August 7, 2018, it is no longer available to download.

Still, big changes are coming soon to how we find and reserve campsites on federal land, and that is at least a start. Sites that would have been otherwise empty because of last-minute cancellations will now be easy to find and book right away.



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