Winnebago's Latest Electric RV Prototype Has 108 Miles of Range
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 underpinnings from a Ford E-Transit provide 266 horsepower and 108 miles of range, less than the 125 miles the company claimed for the e-RV’s powertrain from Lightning eMotors.A new 48-volt house battery powers the eRV2’s amenities and the interior is lined with plant-based materials and fabrics made from recycled bottles.
The camper-van connoisseurs at Winnebago showed their first foray into electric power a year ago with the reveal of the e-RV concept. The electric RV then embarked on a road trip from Washington, D.C., to the company’s Minnesota headquarters, stopping in Detroit along the way to give us a closer look. Now Winnebago has debuted an updated prototype called the eRV2 at the Florida RV Super Show in Tampa as the electric camper inches 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-mile range in the high-roof configuration. This actually gives the eRV2 a lower range estimate than the e-RV, which extracted an estimated 125 miles from an 86.0-kWh battery built by Lightning eMotors. Winnebago told Car and Driver that it typically traveled 70 to 90 miles at a time on its interstate journey with the e-RV, so the eRV2 might still be able to traverse similar distances between charges.
Winnebago acknowledges, however, that the eRV2’s range is less than ideal, promising improvements for the production version. The company is aiming for the ability to comfortably drive for three hours before a recharge. The current E-Transit platform allows for DC fast charging to 80 percent in around 45 minutes. The switch to a standard E-Transit powertrain also increased horsepower from 215 to 266 ponies, but torque drops from the previously claimed 733 pound-feet to the Ford’s stock 317 pound-feet.
The eRV2’s second battery, a 15.0-kWh unit developed with Lithionics Battery, powers amenities like the refrigerator and the new 48-volt A/C system, which Winnebago says is 30 percent more efficient than traditional units. Other interior equipment includes a portable induction cooktop, a sink, and a bathroom with a shower and removable cassette toilet. There’s also a WiFi router.
Winnebago claims the eRV2 allows for up to seven days of boondocking, which is when you camp in an RV off the grid, without hookups to electricity, water, or sewage. While the 900-watt solar panels on the roof—up from 200 watts on the E-RV—help preserve energy, the fine print also reveals that this claim is based on the assumption that the two travelers don’t need to turn on the A/C or the heat.
Along with ditching gas for electrons, the eRV2’s focus on sustainability brings the extensive use of recycled materials in the cabin. The lounge spaces feature Repreve fabric made from plastic bottles while the front seats are upholstered in a renewable, plant-based fabric, and a biodegradable material is used for the acrylic countertops. The interior lights can also be switched from white to red, which Winnebago says decreases light pollution, reducing the impact of your adventure on the wildlife around you. It should also help your eyes to adjust to the dark when it’s time to do some stargazing.
Winnebago has also revised the control center for managing the eRV2’s systems, and has created an app that performs the same functions. The company also enlarged the freshwater tank by five gallons and increased the gray-water tank by seven gallons.
Winnebago says it is conducting field testing with customers as it continues to hone the eRV2. We still don’t know when Winnebago’s electric RV will go on sale, but the company said the final chassis configuration will be announced later this year. The company also admitted that it will carry a price premium over gas-powered RVs, and the remaining development time will be crucial for ironing out the kinks and boosting the range.
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