Last week RVtravel.com ran a poll asking you how many miles of range an electric RV would need before you would consider buying one. Read last week’s poll article HERE. While I don’t have all the answers yet, I have had some electric RV trailer towing experience and spent a lot of time crunching the numbers.
But first, let’s look at the poll results…
While fully 1/3 of those responding said they would never buy an EV RV, 38% said they would consider an electric powered RV if it had a 500-mile driving range. And only 10% of those responding said they would accept a 300-mile range.
This tells me a few things…. First of all, there’s a lot of RV owners who want to drive more than 300 miles a day. In fact, in some of the comments they stated that driving over 600 miles per day was normal for them. While I used to drive my Sprinter Van 800+ miles per day solo across the country, I wasn’t camping. I was driving to my next seminar gig around the country, so time spent on the road was money lost. However, when I’m camping I prefer the more leisurely pace of 300 miles a day.
Is that true range while towing a trailer?
Well, you can’t believe everything you see in a television commercial, can you? In my limited testing last summer I found that adding even a small trailer to an EV SUV resulted in a loss of more than 50% of driving range. And there was even more of a loss if you drive at 70+ mph.
Some of my readers even stated that it was dangerous to pull a trailer at 55 mph because traffic would try to run them over. I tend to agree. I did a few 40-mile towing tests on Interstate 70 at 55 mph (the posted limit for towing trailers). Everyone was beeping at me and doing dangerously close passing. So, in most states you need to be able to tow at 65 mph or risk getting hit.
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More technology to the rescue
But all is not lost. Both Airstream and Lippert are currently working on RV trailers that have a built-in 75 kWh battery and motor/generators in the trailer wheels which help push the trailer down the road at highway speeds. So it’s just possible that a new Silverado 1500 EV pickup with an advertised 400-mile range could to tow a medium-size EV RV trailer that same 400 miles. But I won’t know until I get an EV truck and trailer to try out.
What about charging on the road or at campgrounds?
Many campgrounds are installing separate (and metered) Level-2 chargers that can completely recharge your EV truck in about 10 hours. But you’ll also need to recharge your EV RV trailer at the same time. So that’s another consideration.
I’m talking to a number of decision-making groups about this. However, it’s slow going and I have zero budget for this sort of study. So, if I want to fly out to California to see the Salton Sea Project, I need to do it on my own dime while losing time from my consulting business. But I am snooping around for a grant that could help me pursue this deeper.
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What about materials for lithium batteries, and will we recycle them?
I believe that the lithium sourcing problem will be solved soon since there are now a number of mining technologies that reduce the amount of environmental impact by as much as 95%. You’ll want to read my Salton Sea Lithium Extraction Pilot Program HERE.
And yes, there are other rare/expensive metals needed as well such as cobalt and nickel. But there are a lot of really smart and highly motivated scientists and engineers working on ways to reduce the need for these materials that often need to be sourced from other countries.
As far as recycling used EV batteries, I think that there’s a lot of money to be made, so very few (if any) will end up at the landfill. It’s just like throwing gold jewelry away … that just doesn’t happen except by accident.
What about fuel cells?
However, I can say that lithium batteries are the current front-runner, and every major energy supplier is working on renewable energy options that won’t require coal to be burned to power electric vehicles. But I look at every report I get with a jaundiced eye, so I won’t make statements I can’t fact-check and corroborate with other sources. But we sure do live in interesting times….
Let’s play (and charge) safe out there….
Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.
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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