- After showing off the e-RV concept last year, Winnebago has honed its electric RV into the eRV2 prototype unveiled today at the Florida RV Super Show.
- The basics of the Ford E-Transit provide 266 horsepower and a range of 108 miles, less than the 125 miles that the company claims for the e-RV powertrain of the Lightning eMotors.
- A new 48-volt housing battery powers the eRV2 facility and the interior is lined with plant-based materials and fabrics made from recycled bottles.
Camper-van enthusiasts in Winnebago demonstrated their first foray into electric power a year ago by unveiling the e-RV concept. The electric RV then embarked on a road trip from Washington, DC, to the company’s headquarters in Minnesota, stopping in Detroit along the way for a closer look. Now Winnebago has unveiled an updated prototype called the eRV2 at the Florida RV Super Show in Tampa as the electric camper gets closer to production.
The eRV2—which Winnebago describes as a “fully operational prototype”—is built on a Ford E-Transit chassis, with the stock 68.0-kWh battery returning a claimed 108 miles of range in the high-roof configuration. This actually gives the eRV2 a lower estimated range than the e-RV, which extracts about 125 miles from the 86.0 kWh battery built by Lightning eMotors. Winnebago said Car and Driver that it typically travels 70 to 90 miles at a time on its interstate trips in an e-RV, so the eRV2 may still be able to travel the same distance between loads.
Winnebago acknowledged, however, that the eRV2’s range was less than ideal, a promising improvement over the production version. The company is aiming for three hours of comfortable driving before recharging. The current E-Transit platform allows DC fast charging to 80 percent in about 45 minutes. The switch to the standard E-Transit powertrain also increases horsepower from 215 to 266 pounds, but torque drops from the previously claimed 733 pound-feet to Ford’s 317 pound-feet.
The eRV2’s second battery, a 15.0 kWh unit developed with Lithionics Batteries, powers facilities such as refrigerators and a new 48-volt AC system, which Winnebago says is 30 percent more efficient than traditional units. Other interior equipment includes a portable induction cooker, washbasin and bathroom with removable cassette shower and toilet. There is also a WiFi router.
Winnebago claims the eRV2 allows up to seven days of boondocking, which is when you camp in your RV off-grid, with no connection to power, water, or sewer. While the 900-watt solar panels on the roof—up from 200 watts on the E-RV—help save energy, the fine print also reveals that this claim is based on the assumption that neither traveler will need to turn it on. AC or heat.
Along with ditching gas for electrons, the eRV2’s focus on sustainability leads to extensive use of recycled materials in the cabin. The lounge area features Repreve fabric made from plastic bottles while the front seats are upholstered in renewable plant-based fabrics, and biodegradable materials are used for the acrylic tables. The interior lighting can also be changed from white to red, which Winnebago says reduces light pollution, reducing the impact your adventures have on the wildlife around you. This will also help your eyes adjust to the darkness when it’s time to stargaze.
Winnebago has also revised the control center to manage the eRV2 system, and has created an application that performs the same function. The company also enlarged the freshwater tank by five gallons and added another seven gallons of gray water tank.
Winnebago says it is conducting field tests with customers while it continues to hone the eRV2. We still don’t know when the Winnebago electric RV will go on sale, but the company says the final chassis configuration will be announced later this year. The company also admits it will carry a price premium over gas-powered RVs, and the remaining development time will be crucial to ironing out kinks and increasing range.