Thursday, February 2, 2023

MENU

Electric vehicle growth has RV industry befuddled!

A pair of webinars this past week, one hosted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA) and one by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), underscored how seriously the campground world views the oncoming onslaught of electric vehicles. While campground and RV owners remain mostly skeptical, questioning the costs, range, recharging availability and environmental impact of a lithium-based technology, industry leaders are unwavering in their belief that the EV-RV revolution is already here and that the problems others see are either overblown or will be resolved in timely fashion.

“We are really at an inflection point which is amazing,” Ashis Bhattacharya, senior vice president for development and advanced technology at Winnebago Industries, told his RVIA audience. A “wave of electric adoption” is already washing over rental car agencies, delivery services such as Prime, UPS and FedEx, as well as school buses and other municipal vehicle fleets, all of which is normalizing the technology. The paradigmatic shift already underway, Bhattacharya added, is as significant as any ever experienced in the transportation sector.

States are giving the EV sector a kick in the pants

Meanwhile, said Jay Landers, RVIA’s vice president of government affairs, state initiatives to outlaw internal combustion engines are giving the entire EV sector a kick in the pants. Five states, including California, already have voted to ban sales of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035, and others are looking to possibly follow suit. The state of Washington, which had the country’s sixth highest rate of RV shipments this year, is even more aggressive, adopting a 2030 cutoff deadline. Furthermore, expansion of the EV charging network nationwide is being super-charged by $5 billion in federal funding approved earlier this year.

None of which, all speakers agreed, is to minimize the problems confronting EV in general, and EV-RVs in particular. “The (EV) technology is still more expensive than what it’s replacing,” conceded MacKay Featherstone, Thor Industries’ senior vice president of global innovation. Moreover, he added, “the charging experience is utterly critical” and still inadequate for RVers in particular, both because most RVs need pull-through charging stations to be practical and because they have larger power needs than EV cars.

Current charging stations are not suitable for RVs.

To their credit, RV manufacturers, frequently criticized for shoveling out hundreds of thousands of RVs without giving a thought to where their buyers might use them, are at least trying to get out in front of this development. And there is little reason to doubt that a society-wide change is coming, and coming hard. EV-RV costs inevitably will come down as sales take off, as they do with any emerging technology. Alternatives to lithium batteries, using less exotic minerals, are being developed, and advances in recycling technologies will further ease environmental concerns. Similarly, ongoing improvements in battery density will continue to expand vehicle range, relieving one of the biggest consumer anxieties about EVs.

THE WEAK LINK, however, appears to be the RV park and campground end of the product chain. The RVIA webinar inadvertently made that point when its campground representative on the panel—Toby O’Rourke, president and CEO of KOA—was so unintelligible that she had to be dropped from the screen, apparently because she was trying to link in from an airport. (And why O’Rourke, again? Is there no other campground industry representative who can speak to the industry’s issues? Maybe someone from the Yogi franchise, or ARVC, or one of the other large state RV park associations, like Texas or California?)

Subbing in for O’Rourke was Brandi Simpson, her chief of staff, whose faltering contribution was to assert that campground owners are dealing with “a ton of misinformation” about EVs and need a lot of education and guidance. Which, presumably, KOA is scrambling to provide…

… as is ARVC, which lustily beat the drum on behalf of EV-RVs at its national conference in early November, and again at an hour-long webinar a couple of days after RVIA’s face-to-face. Pitched as “a recap of the best” of the conference for those who might have been unable to attend, the session inexplicably ignored the most contentious convention issue—a proposal to adopt industry-wide “standards”—while devoting the majority of its time to further promoting the idea that campgrounds need to get on the EV bandwagon, starting with the installation of EV chargers.

All of which is undeniably true, but far more nuanced and with many more questions than have been answered to date. For example: Both webinars referenced possible tax breaks and federal grants to defray campground costs for installing chargers, while glossing over the reality that such inducements will require making the chargers accessible to the general public, and not just campground guests. Getting equally short shrift were any explanations of the occasionally mentioned “partnerships” that campgrounds might have to accept, whether with public utilities or third-party providers, to deal with licensing and infrastructure issues, since electric sales are typically a utility monopoly and EV chargers require robust additional power supplies.

(On a related note: One of the biggest frustrations for many KOA franchisees has been the parent company’s insistence on taking a 10% cut of all site fees—including any electric charges—even though campgrounds are legally prohibited from making a profit from reselling electricity. To the extent that EVs will increase electricity consumption at RV sites, that means even more unearned money transferred from franchisees to corporate headquarters.)


Today’s Readers Poll 
We asked readers: In 10 years, what percentage of motorized RVs will be powered by electric engines? We invite you to respond here (and learn how others responded).


No answer to who will pay

Indeed, the whole issue of who will pay for the extra electricity consumed by EV-RVs, and how, is still being sidestepped at the national level, quite possibly because there is no one answer. That, by itself, may become the biggest impediment to mom-and-pop campgrounds rushing into this brave new world. It’s notable, for example, that while ARVC now has an online “EV Toolkit” to help its members understand how to accommodate the new technology, the only guidance it provides for covering their costs is the vague advice to “consider billing for shorter stays, especially [campers] with unique equipment (large class As, EVs, electric golf carts, etc.), automatically billing those campers for the electricity they use.”

Presumably these and other issues will get resolved, sooner or later—once the industry stops talking around them. The RVing public, meanwhile, should brace itself for still higher costs, as a new electric sensibility starts percolating through the camping universe. Just as computerized reservation systems have introduced demand pricing and all kinds of add-on fees, the electrification push ultimately will result in all RV sites getting electric meters. Or as ARVC’s EV Toolkit asks, in a prominently displayed screen, “You don’t give away ice, candy bars or firewood, why give away electric?”

Andy Zipser is the author of Renting Dirt, the story of his family’s experiences owning and operating a Virginia RV park, and of Turning Dirt, a step-by-step guide for finding, buying and operating an RV park and campground. Both books are available through some bookstores or at Amazon.com.

Advertisement/Affiliate

If you value what you learn from RVtravel.com, would you please consider becoming a voluntary subscriber by pledging your support? Every contribution, no matter how modest, helps us serve you better. Thank youLearn more here.

Facebook Groups you might like
RVing with Dogs
RV Tech Tips
RV Advice
Towing Behind a Motorhome
RVing Over 70
. . . and the official RVtravel.com Facebook page

Winterizing your RV this season? Amazon has a wide choice of RV antifreeze.

Comments

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

47 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SaveAmerica
1 month ago

We will never ever ever buy an EV . This is politics at its worst.
Did you know the European Union just classified NATURAK GAS AS A “CLEAN ENERGY” – SAME AS WIND AND SOLAR?? US media says nothing?
To heck with the progressives and their lies . USA has enough Natural Gas to run out nation for 1,000 years.
This is all BS. Convert gasoline to natural gas. Next to no pollution.
All political lies.

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  SaveAmerica

Yes!’

KOREY V. JACKSON
1 month ago

How many EV-RVs will there be in 2032/33, ten years from now?

I predict that more than 50% of RVs sold in 2032 and later will be EV.

As far as campgrounds and campground owners’ expense in developing infrastructure for charging EV-RVs:
Today, we do not expect campgrounds to provide diesel or gasoline stations today for RVs. So why would we demand large capacity EV quick-chargers at campgrounds?
Perhaps maintenance-level and slow charging is feasible in the near term for campgrounds, but for that big rig fast-charge capability, pull into a 2030 version of Love’s, Flying J/Pilot, and TA/Petro truck stops.

It is inevitable that wherever an EV of any sort may be recharge, almost all electric pedastals will be metered, with electric rates varying on time of day and current/voltage flow. This will occur over a 10 to 20 year transition period.

Last edited 1 month ago by KOREY V. JACKSON
SaveAmerica
1 month ago

NOT ONE UTILITY COMPANY IN USA CAN SUPPLY ENOUGH ELECTRICITY TO HANDLE NORMAL NEEDS. A/C IN SUMMER PUTS THEM IN BLACKOUT RISK.
WAKE UP. THOR, FORD AND GM – BUILD ALL YOU WANT. NOT BUYING. UNUSABLE AND MASSIVELY OVERPRICED.
TOTAL LIE.

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  SaveAmerica

Agreed!

chris
1 month ago

They don’t bother with good wifi, why bother with EV charging?

Michael
1 month ago

Lots of noise. There is not even an EV-Toad on the horizon. Probably will not see one until 2025. Maybe more.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

Go off road with your toad EV – run out of power – get out your gasoline generator and spend the next 3 hours charging so you can get home.

Gary Stone
1 month ago

All these considerations about battery weight, charging stations and long charging times…does anyone really think the climate change zealots give a rip about anyone’s camping plans?

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Gary Stone

Zealots: people who believe science.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
Jeff Craig
1 month ago

Let’s take all the corporate welfare we give the fossil fuels industry and give it to the EV/E-RV and campground industries, instead. I’m honestly not surprised by the lack of imagination shown in these comments. New battery formulations are being field tested for everything including ERV’s and EV’s (and e-planes, e-semis, etc…) and charging infrastructure technology continues to evolve (wireless charging at stoplights for example). In twenty years, everything we know about the world will be different (just as things are completely different than they were in 2002.

Fernweh Ric
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Kinda sucks doesn’t it? The good times are gone.

Sharon N
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Thank you for an educated response!

Ron S
1 month ago

Gee, here in PA I’m paying .58 cents a gallon state fuel tax !!! How much are all the EV’s paying in PA !!

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron S

That’s less than a penny.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron S

GEE, let’s ask Fetterman!!!

George M
1 month ago

Impractical, but I don’t care unless I have to subsidize it… which will be the case for any campground dumb enough to pander to the imaginary EV camper crowd in any significant way. Those campgrounds are to be avoided.

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  George M

Yep!

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  George M

So correct. Ford, GM are going to eat this mistake big time.
They bought the Democrat line and shareholders will bail.

Bob M
1 month ago

Another issue that came to me a few months ago. The EV chargers don’t have a roof over them to keep you out of the rain or weather. We hear RV owners who install lithium batteries pay $1000. or so for a battery. How much will it cost to replace RV batteries? Have no idea if the batteries are sized uniformly or every car has a difference odd size.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

2 seperate Tesla owners burned or blew up their cars. It cost as much to replace the batteries as it cost to buy a new Tesla!!

David V
1 month ago

Give me an EV with solid-state batteries and over 2000mi range and I’m in. Although, I’ll be taking a dirt nap before THAT happens.

Wayne
1 month ago

Recently at a service station in Ontario that had 3 charging stations I asked if they saw much use? The attendant said not much and all the cars that had recharged there had been brought in by tow truck.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayne

Where’s the electric can????

B N S
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayne

L O L

Steve
1 month ago

I think “the EV is the future group” needs to be given a reality check. The weight of the batteries to power an RV with any type of range will be considerable. First, I am not anti-EV. My DW and I are considering one as a toad. But we are light-years from having EV powered RV’s that meet ‘middle of the road’ RV’ers needs. Batteries are incredibly heavy, even the lithium type. Powering a 25-30K# RV down the road thru hills and such will take large batteries. How many RV’ers will be happy with a max of 250-300 miles before a 12-18 hr charge. Maintenance of the RV’s system is more involved than a fuel powered unit. Think of Amazon warehouses with electric fork trucks. The battery storage and charging system is massive and takes a lot of maintenance. Current battery technology will not make it. New ones are on the horizon but until we see a major upgrade, EV-RV’s are a pipe dream. Batteries are not the answer, we will need to find other ways to store or generate electricity. And we will!

Spike
1 month ago

“Or as ARVC’s EV Toolkit asks, in a prominently displayed screen, ‘You don’t give away ice, candy bars or firewood, why give away electric?’ ”

A statement like this is just stupid. Since when have campgrounds “given away” electric? It’s always been built into the site pricing model in the rate or, for longer term stays, metered and paid for separately.

As a consumer, the ARVC’s statement is insulting and makes it sound like we’ve been taking something for nothing.

Lee Ensminger
1 month ago
Reply to  Spike

I was going to call that BS out as well, but you’ve said it perfectly.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

While the focus thus far in this conversation has been on range and recharging (admittedly the two biggest issues), EV power will have a big plus for RVers. Those big batteries can also eliminate the need for propane, and (assuming a charge station within say 25 miles) create extended boondocking opportunities.

Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

I think you are missing some data. A 30 gal LP tank is maybe 150 pounds. Batteries to power an RV will be several thousand pounds. Not much of a trade off!

John the road again
1 month ago

Who will pay? We all will, even those who will never drive or own an EV. All these tax breaks and subsidies will be rolled into the national debt that is already fueling inflation. Utilities and campground owners will be forced to spread these new capital costs over all customers in order to get EV customers booking, because I doubt that EV customers will be willing to pay double the nighly rate than conventional campers do.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago

And the subsidies go to the rich!!!

Zane D
1 month ago

I don’t expect the campground to supply gas or diesel for my vehicles, why should the same be expected for electricity and an EV?

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Zane D

Excellent point!

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Zane D

They won’t.

Crowman
1 month ago

When California and other States build about a 100 new Nuclear Power plants to fuel the EV pipe dream then I’ll know the Government is serious about EV’s. Doesn’t matter if they put all the recharging stations everyone needs but doesn’t have the ability to supply them. California has rolling brown and black outs now every summer what’s it going to look like when 20 million more EV’s are on the road after 2035.

SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Crowman

DEAD ON
FACTS ELUDE THE POSTERS ABOVE
FACTS – IMAGINE THAT!!

Bob p
1 month ago

This is still a pipe dream for the next generation. It’s not going to happen within the next 20 years until all the old timers today are long gone. The mom and pop campgrounds are not going to be able to invest hundreds of thousands into upgrading their entire electrical system for something they’ll never see fruition on. The big conglomerates are not going to invest in the small campgrounds of 20-30 sites, they only want the large campgrounds that they can see millions from profits. Myself at 79 I will never see an EV with my name on the title much less an EVRV.

Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

I couldn’t agree more, except for possibly the last sentence. I could be interested in a small two seat grocery-gitter that would give me a hundred miles on a single charge and then be charged at home. We’ll never see anything like that because our automakers insist on trying to build Lincolns for the masses instead of Model T’s. Build the Model T first then the Lincoln. Don’t even get me started on the environmental impact of building EV batteries.

tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

EV Maverick! You hear me, Ford?

John the road again
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

The problem is that EVs are too expensive for the Model T set. (Do recall that decades before the Model T, automobile ownership was exclusively for the very wealthy) An additional problem is that I predict that for the foreseeable future EVs will depreciate at twice the rate of conventional vehicles due to the consumable nature of their batteries. This means that EV ownership by the lesser affluent of the secondary market will be unaffordable.

Joseph Phebus
1 month ago

But you’re simply describing the usual pattern for innovation. Early adopters are almost always the rich and financially well off. Over time, the technology improves and becomes less costly and affordable for the masses. That’s the story of the automobile, the television, the refrigerator,
the electric light the computer, cell phone and virtually everything else. What’s wrong with that?

The point is, to innovate and progress you have to make a start. The American story is one of visionaries and problem-solvers ignoring the naysayers and making a start. I’m cheering for the next generation up for the challenge instead of the older folk like me enjoying the fruits and efforts of visionaries of the past 75 years.

Maurizio Taglianini
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Phebus

Thank you Jo for reminding us to look forward to the future and not backward to the past 🙂

SaveAmerica
1 month ago

Natural Gas cars. Not pie-in -the-sky fossil fuel generated EV nonsense.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Phebus

True. Henry Ford took mass production to a new level because he wanted everyone to afford one of his cars. No true innovation or progress is made by listening to naysayers.

Last edited 1 month ago by chris
SaveAmerica
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Phebus

Please.
Massive subsidies are required to get anyone – ANYONE – to buy EV.

chris
1 month ago
Reply to  SaveAmerica

Then you better save us.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.