There’s certainly been a lot of hype in the last few months about all the new electric vehicles (EVs) hitting the market. And in many cases, both legislators and manufacturers are setting dates when ICE (internal combustion engine) technology won’t be sold or registered in certain states.
These complex decisions are largely filled with politics and biased thinking on both sides of aisle, which I plan to avoid by sticking strictly to the science. And since I don’t believe most of what any marketing groups tell me, I’m going to test everything myself and write about this with as little bias as possible. So if I tell you something, I’ll have the data and math to back me up. So you may challenge anything I write about, but be prepared to defend your viewpoint with empirical data and calculations. Deal?
So what’s the plan?
If you believe the marketing hype, these new EVs in commercial are ready for prime time, can plug in anyplace, and can go anywhere you wanna go. So is this true? Or are vehicle manufacturers promoting vaporware in an effort to swing customers over to their own brand? I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out. Welcome to the start of my GoGreenRV study and demonstrations.
My July schedule for the GoGreenRV project
After a lot of emails and calls to all the major manufacturers (hundreds of them, in fact), Ford has finally agreed to loan me a new F-150 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid truck with the 7.2kW onboard generator.
While it’s not a pure electric vehicle, it does combine a 45 horsepower electric motor with a 3.5L turbo V-6 gasoline motor. I’ll have it for two weeks in July and I’ve already made plans…
Why is this PowerBoost interesting?
Well, I believe the PowerBoost is the perfect stepping stone between traditional gasoline and diesel ICE technology and pure battery propulsion. Currently (no pun intended), the U.S. power grid is not up to the task of recharging the plethora of electric vehicles hitting the market this year and 2022. Not only is the power grid not up to it yet, there’s simply not enough charging stations to make it easy to recharge an EV while you’re outside of your 100-mile bubble. Not yet, anyway… So a hybrid vehicle that combines both ICE and EV technologies seems like the best interim solution.
Genny, Genny, who can I turn to? (8-6-7-5-3-0-9…)
What’s really interesting is the optional in-bed generator available for this PowerBoost truck. The test truck I’m getting has the 7.2kW generator that makes 120/240-volt split-phase power just like my Honda EU7000 generator.
So it not only has a bunch of 20-amp outlets, it also has a 4-prong twist lock generator receptacle. And according to Ford literature, it’s rated for 32 hours of idle time while powering these outlets.
What can you do with it?
Well, Ford is promoting this as a work truck for contractors who typically bring noisy generators to work sites, as well as being able to power your house in the event of an electrical shutdown. But I think there are two more great possibilities: powering your RV trailer while boondocking, and recharging the batteries in the RV trailer while driving.
An advantage of electrical vehicles
I know of several RVs that have enough lithium batteries to run the air conditioner 4 to 8 hours. While this is great for boondocking (really, it is), you still have to recharge them sometime. This 7.2kW PowerBoost would be able to completely recharge these huge RV battery banks from 0 to 100% SOC (State of Charge) in 2 to 4 hours of driving. That’s right. You could simply plug your RV’s shore power cord into the twist-lock outlet in the bed of the truck (with the proper adapter), and recharge your RV battery bank on the way to your next boondocking stop.
Another example of electric vehicles’ use
Since the PowerBoost 7.2 generator has an L14-30 receptacle in the truck bed, with the proper Y adapter you should be able to fully power TWO RV trailers in your remote boondocking party. And note that in the Ford literature this truck is rated for up to 32 hours of idle time while running the on-board generator. If this works as promoted, it could be a real game changer for boondocking with medium-size travel trailers (plus a guest RV).
My Airstream trip
I was previously invited to do my first RVelectricity seminar this year at the Airstream International Rally in Lebanon, TN, in July. So with a little schedule juggling I’m now able to use this F-150 PowerBoost to tow my loaner Rockwood GeoPro G19FBTH trailer to the show.
Yes, the Airstream crew is a little squeamish about allowing a Forest River trailer into their inner sanctum of 800 Airstream trailers. But I’ve been asking Thor/Airstream for two years for a loaner test trailer, and so far the answer has been no. But perhaps they’ll change their minds after I show up at the International Airstream rally with a GeoPro.
My Rockwood trip
A week after the Airstream Rally I’ll be taking the F-150 PowerBoost and GeoPro trailer to visit the Rockwood plant in Goshen for a show-and-tell with Tony Barthel. If all goes well, Tony and I will do a live YouTube webcast from the factory parking lot where we’ll discuss the future of these smaller and more easily towable RV trailers.
Future Shock regarding my GoGreenRV project
But in order for me to keep up this pace through 2022, I’m going to need to find a grant for my GoGreenRV study. I do have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a board of directors (No Shock Zone, Inc.), and I’ve been looking for any kind of foundation to help fund this.
These kinds of extended experiments and studies are very costly, and I’m calculating I need at least $100K to keep my GoGreenRV project going through 2022. I’ve had one funding offer from a group who proposed sponsorship as long as I gave them editorial rights to my content, but I would never do that.
What I need is a grant without any editorial strings attached so I can continue to publish non-biased reports on my findings. So if you know of any foundations that might be a good fit, please contact me.
What will the future bring regarding electric vehicles?
I do believe that Internal Combustion Vehicles will eventually be replaced by something cheaper, cleaner and better. And it will come sooner than we all think. So I believe that good old American ingenuity and entrepreneurial grit can get us converted to an Electric Economy in the not-too-distant future. After all, we Americans have a long history of doing the seemingly impossible in a short amount of time and are the better for it. I’m putting in a pic of a mirrored vest just so you know I’m ready for anything they throw at me. I used to have one very similar to this in the 70’s, but my wife pitched it decades ago. Oh well, I can always make another one…From Ben Franklin’s lightning experiments, to the invention and distribution of 3-phase power starting at Niagara Falls; to the first Wright brothers flight and the moon landing 60 years later; to Henry Ford building the Model T cheaply enough and paying his workers a sufficient wage so they all could own one; the invention of the Internet, Apple and Microsoft computer Operating Systems, the development of GPS satellite technology, and even creating the Covid-19 vaccine – America has led the way in technological advances for the last 200 years.
I’m pretty sure we’re up to the challenge of how to convert our fossil fuel transportation infrastructure to some renewable energy alternative, be it lithium batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, or something else we’re going to dream up. I do think this is a good thing, but I will not let my personal bias affect my data. So I’ll report on every technology as honestly as I can. And I always show my work.
When it arrives, I plan on testing these new technologies to find out the reality of the situation. So I’m super excited to get my teeth into it and figure out what’s real and what’s vaporware. See you on the road this summer.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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