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RV giant Thor Industries partners with electric vehicle company

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As the world transitions away from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, the RV industry is forced to begin designing electrified solutions. Earlier this year, Thor Industries released its prototype all-electric RV and travel trailer. While not yet available to the public for purchase, these two vehicles hint at the likelihood of Thor becoming a major player in the electric RV game.

In early November, Thor announced that it had entered a partnership with EV startup company Harbinger Motors, Inc. to drive innovation for its future line of electric RVs. With the help of Harbinger’s proprietary EV technology, Thor hopes to propel its eMobility program forward.

Who is Harbinger Motors?

Harbinger is a relatively new company in the electric vehicle sphere. It only recently came to prominence during the September 2022 Detroit Auto Show, where Harbinger debuted its proprietary EV chassis. This Class 6 medium-duty frame is capable of supporting vehicle weights anywhere between 19,501 and 26,000 pounds. Delivery vans, beverage trucks and, interestingly, recreational vehicles, all use this chassis style.

Harbinger’s patented chassis consists of scalable 35kw battery packs and a proprietary drivetrain dubbed “eAxle” at the rear wheels. This axle houses the electric motor, inverter, and gearbox, all of which sit below the top of the frame. This allows an RV body to be seamlessly mounted. (Check out some great pictures of the technology here.)

Harbinger’s primary focus is to make its chassis an easy, cost-effective choice for vehicle manufacturers. Rather than relying on a hodge-podge of engineered components from multiple companies, Harbinger researches, designs, and manufactures all of the chassis’ components themselves. The result is a comprehensive finished product that auto and RV manufacturers can simply purchase and build upon.

Thor’s vision for the future

When Thor announced its new electric RV program in January, it only showed the public two examples. The first was an Airstream “eStream,” with an independently operating electric drivetrain that allowed a remote control to move the trailer. The other was the Vision Vehicle, a Class B-style van with a 300-mile operating range. To achieve these vehicles, Thor had to design and manufacture the products from scratch.

With Harbinger’s chassis, Thor will theoretically be able to electrify existing RV models, rather than pioneering new ones. During manufacturing, Thor will simply have to install its motorhomes on top of the electric chassis without needing to alter the body or interior. All of this should greatly streamline its electric RV production process.

Will Thor become the Tesla of RVing?

With its product showcase earlier this year and its newfound partnership with Harbinger, Thor Industries makes one thing clear—it intends to lead the electric RV revolution. Even as other companies like Winnebago design their own variations, it’s highly unlikely that Thor will be willing to sacrifice its place as the nation’s largest RV manufacturer.

Would you ever buy an electric RV? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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51 Comments
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Andrew Meppen
5 days ago

I’m young enough that the technology will eventually get to what I want i think. Fifth wheel with regen braking to charge battery bank while driving and seamless solar roof. I’ll probably always tow with diesel pickup to cover low power situations for emergency. Panel efficiency would have to improve a lot to charge tow vehicle and battery bank in the fifth wheel.

Neal Davis
7 days ago

I doubt that I’ll buy an electric RV. We traded in July, acquiring our second and last (? Or so we think now) RV, a diesel pusher. However, I won’t say “never,” but I will certainly say that we’ll NEVER buy a Thor product. Their reputation for shoddy manufacturing is unsurpassed in the industry, based on my casual research over the past 10-15 years.

jerry
9 days ago

at first, I would think it would have severe weight restrictions but at least it’s venturing out, and eventually, it will be able to upgrade batteries to match RVers’ needs.

garrett fricke
10 days ago

With the high cost of EV’s and upgrades to electric for the campgrounds don’t be surprised if campgrounds quit being full service. They may just go back to only supplying water at the post.

Dave
10 days ago

Never going to work. 300 miles on a Van conversion converts to 1/2 that on a C Class and less on an A.
Hydrogen will be the way to go with motorhomes as with any large heavy vehicle.
Electric will always be fine for in city driving, but will have a hard time to be viable long distance, and heavy vehicles.
Then there is cold climates of which 1/2 of North America puts up with for 3-4 months a year.
It’s all a pipe dream for these vehicles.

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Yep you tell them

Lea Taylor
10 days ago

As a RV Park/Campground owner I’ll fight putting in these charging stations as long as I can. The cost to upgrade infrastructure for all electric RVs is ridiculous and even when an electric car comes in and wants to charge on our regular pedestals and they get upset if we tell them no or charge them a fee. I don’t pay for anyone else’s diesel or fuel I am certainly not paying to “fill up” EVs.
The power grid in this country cannot handle all EVs they want to push on us, people are expected to cut back on electric use in the home so cars can get charged, the whole thing is a joke. We are no where ready to get rid of FF.

garrett fricke
10 days ago
Reply to  Lea Taylor

Yeah I see your point. You’d be charging all their vehicles for free basically. Might have to install meters but who pays for that?

Lea Taylor
9 days ago
Reply to  garrett fricke

We have meters on our pedestals, the problem is that you cannot charge a vehicle AND run an RV. You would need more than 50 amp pedestals in the park. If you install just charging stations, it would only be a few and those would be for cars, not actual RV’s. The cost to put in 100 amps at sites would be insane, a park would never make a return on that investment. Even just having a couple of charging stations for cars is cost prohibitive. Then having someone come in with a 42′ diesel pusher pulling an EV to bop around town in. What a joke. If they have an EV for a daily driver, but are willing to have a huge motorhome that burns fuel at 7mpg and think they are making a difference, smh. It makes about as much sense as these climate crazies flying around the world in their private jets telling everyone that they need to cut their carbon footprint.

Dennis Johnson
10 days ago

Not in my lifetime. At 67, if I get another 10 years RV touring, I’ll consider myself fortunate. Maybe a few years after that camping much closer to home. I doubt the infrastructure would be in place by then to find charging and/or service every 200-300 miles. I’ll gladly miss out on EV RV’s.

ddobs
10 days ago

YIKES…this sure is an eye opener… youtube.com/watch?v=lQxY2s-oIak
#savagescotty
New Study on Electric Car Deaths Shocks the Entire Car Industry Scotty Kilmer
comments by Laurie Anne Rodriguez-
We’ve gone from combustion engines to spontaneously combustion engines. & by Beb152
When I was in college, I interned at a US Army battery laboratory where
 they were researching lithium batteries. These batteries
were to be used in the equipment for the soldiers.
 The running joke at the lab was
 that if the soldiers ever ran out of grenades,
 they could just throw the lithium batteries at the enemy.

Brian Burry
10 days ago

Remember 700 million people in the world don’t have clean water! it takes energy to pump the water, to filter the water, and to have the water transmission lines. petroleum is the answer, and the solution, and that’s why the industrialized world is what it is today, not from a few whirlybirds or a few solar panels, but actual energy. America has over 530 years of known oil to drill and possibly double of that, the most in the world. Energy from alternative sources is not yet reliable, dependable, or sufficient, and until it is, we have to look at all sources of energy; from coal, to natural gas, to nuclear, to petroleum, in addition to solar and wind. This is a long-term endeavor and we can’t cause hardship for so many, for so few.

Paul
10 days ago

If I were starting out today I would consider buying an EV RV. Our normal travel day is less than 300 miles. I would be concerned that boondocking would become iffy unless I had high efficiency solar on the roof to keep the batteries charged while rolling. I doubt I could rely on electricity for heating and cooling unless connected to shore power. BUT I would consider it for the major reduction in maintenance (no oil change, coolant changes, other regular maintenance needed for the IC (internal combustion) systems. Campgrounds would need to upgrade their electrical systems to support EVs.
None of this will be practical tomorrow, but in the next few years things will scale up if there are EVs being sold.

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul

300 miles per day, divided by 75 mile range… you better get and early start, that’s 4 stops to recharge at 2-3 hrs per charge, if you can get you RV into the recharge station. Better do some more research and quit listening to the fake news media.

Joe
10 days ago

I hope the people in the Buffalo region that received 6+ feet of snow are not dependent on battery powered plow trucks, snowblowers, and other vehicles to dig them out!

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  Joe

Maybe the people in up state NY has more common sense than the city dwellers.

Diane Mc
10 days ago

RV industry “forced”.

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

You can only be forced if you let them!

DW/ND
10 days ago

It appears to me there is a glowing major problem here – and that is this chassis assembly is designed and built for a 20 yr. useful life! (As stated by the Mfgr). With only a 20 yr lifespan, Rv body builders won’t have much incentive for raising quality. Then what do you do with the remains? Recycle to what? Landfill, where? Trade-in value at 5, 10, 15 years? Some of us have Rv’s in the 30 and 40 year old range and while perhaps not worth much in the marketplace – they are completely functional with proper maintenance etc.. Lest we forget where will there be repair facilities across the US and Canada too?

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  DW/ND

Probably the same places you can’t get service right now. People come up with great ideas but the never ask the question “what if we implement this idea, what will be the results”? Look at NAFTA, OSHA, and all the other ideas politicians come up with that become a huge boondoggle.

Richard
10 days ago

Can’t imagine what one of these will cost ???

Steve Comstock
10 days ago

This is a discussion obviously ripe for comment. No shortage of opinions. Regardless, I think the concept is fascinating, albeit impractical for now. One thing you might have considered adding to your article is the fact that Rivian already has vehicles of that class on the road! Amazon ordered 100,000 delivery vehicles and perhaps that platform could double as a viable EV RV alternative. Since Thor has made its choice, maybe Forest River wants to get in the act.

John Macatee
10 days ago

“As the world transitions away from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles”
That’s just a BS statement, not happening! Fossil fuel is here to stay. The transition will take place when the market says it will and not by government force.

David Binkley
10 days ago
Reply to  John Macatee

Spot on.

B N S
10 days ago
Reply to  John Macatee

Yep! (The World is NOT transitioning away from FF. Only The Globalists, Elites and WEF associated Politicians are.)

Bob p
9 days ago
Reply to  B N S

YEP!

Warren G
10 days ago

This is encouraging news. As the owner of one EV I can appreciate the signicantly lower operating costs, minimal maintenance to the power train, the quiet operation and the instant torque. It will be a while yet, but if you look back in history there was a lot about the first autos that was impractical and scofflaws, same as today. We, as RVers, can’t ignore the shared responsibility to address climate change and the impact it will have on our grandkids.

Stan G
10 days ago
Reply to  Warren G

Well stated!

Russ Whitlock
10 days ago

I’ve experienced the demand for Lithium powered coaches as more and more buyers demand solar and battery systems to support their adventures. An EV RV is the next logical step. Like automobiles and trucks it will take time, but why not? Americans have always been innovative and science/technology will answer the questions as we move forward.

David Binkley
10 days ago

Don’t see much improvement from diesel/Gas powered vs. Coal powered.

Last edited 10 days ago by RV Staff
Donald
10 days ago

So, where are we going to find a Harbinger dealer to SERVICE all the new RVs built by Thor? And how much weight of the vehicle are batteries going to consume?

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