We hear and read a lot about future vehicles and electric vehicles and such. While we’re finding that electric pickups are more disappointment than delivery when it comes to serving RVers, Thor has a different idea in their Thor Vision Vehicle concept EV.
Sort of a B+ platform using some of the Ford Transit bits, the Thor Vision Vehicle has a lot of things that really make tremendous sense for RVers. First of all, know that this is a concept and that’s it. It’s part engineering, part wishful thinking, but also part real potential.
More reality than science fiction
The part that’s the real potential is the exciting part to me. Essentially this is an electric vehicle much as a railroad locomotive is an electric vehicle. Electric motors drive this thing around and there’s a big battery.
While Thor isn’t giving any details, and much of the vehicle may be speculative, what I can share is that the biggest challenge to RVs as electric vehicles is that you can only carry so much battery power, for now. Then you either have to recharge or seek another solution. Thor figured this out.
The company is reporting that a fuel cell is that solution. A fuel cell is a device that makes electricity from fuel and air. Instead of burning the fuel to make heat to drive a mechanical generator, fuel cells react between the fuel and air electrochemically, without combustion. The electrochemical approach avoids pollutants that are created by high-flame temperatures, and produces fewer emissions.
Interestingly, Thor was already working with a fuel cell company, WATT Imperium™, when it had purchased Hymer’s U.S. division. So the promise of fuel cells isn’t some pie-in-the-sky wish. Watt Imperium showed working prototypes of fuel cells that operated on propane—which we RVers are quite familiar with and can often purchase right at an RV park.
This combination of using a larger battery for a portion of the journey and then using the fuel cell to complete the journey is really quite brilliant. If you used the electric-only portion of the motorhome as a daily driver, you might never dip into the propane supply until it was time to make a longer journey. Then, there it is.
Further, the large battery that powers the Thor Vision Vehicle would also be available to power all the things inside once you get there, like the fridge, AC and such.
On the subject of the AC, the Thor concept doesn’t have a giant AC protruding through the roof. Instead, it’s more integrated into the chassis. With the advancements in AC systems for EVs, this kind of system could prove to be a reality sooner rather than later. Again, not a huge stretch. On the few photos shown of the concept there was a bit of solar on the roof but it didn’t appear to be much.
However, Thor has shown the Airstream eStream travel trailer concept and this uses the unencumbered roof for lots and lots of solar.
Integration in the Thor Vision Vehicle
For example, the Thor Vision Vehicle concept has integrated smart voice assistant. I’ve done this in my previous home, and I will when I move back into one our new sticks-and-bricks in a month or so. I love just being able to tell the ghost voice to change the thermostat or unlock a door.
In this case, they’re using Amazon’s Alexa. Not only can you alter the thermostat, but you’ll mysteriously see an endless supply of ads for various hot dogs if you even mention those tube steaks at some point on your getaway. No, no—Alexa’s not listening. Right.
But they also showed glass that can tint itself darker or lighter electronically, and that seems like a solution sent from the heavens. To me. I’d love to be able to adjust the tint or even blackout windows electronically.
In fact, you could use position sensors (your phone’s already got them) and know the sun’s trajectory in the sky. You can actually use smart controls to help keep this coach cooler as the sun passes overhead while it’s parked. Essentially, you’d darken the windows facing the sun.
Something Thor showed that I know would make every EV company swoon was rear-facing cameras instead of mirrors. Elon Musk dreams of this, but our federal government thinks we need giant ears with mirrors on our vehicles still, to hinder aerodynamics. Cameras would make so much sense.
But the government is never in the “makes sense” business, so Thor has an uphill battle with this.
While the Thor Vision Vehicle seems like a lot of future tech and science fiction, when you look at it, it’s really almost completely available today. Ford already makes an electric version of the Transit, WATT Imperium has shown us the fuel cell, Alexa’s already listening to us wishing for stuff so—there’s not as much science fiction as there is available product.
Silly Thor did some big bucks survey to see what campers want—which they wouldn’t have to do if RV decision-makers were RVers. Or, they could just read these daily RV reviews and check out all the comments below.
And I’m looking forward to seeing what you all think of this concept that, really, could be in showrooms in a few months, quite frankly.
More from Tony
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Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.
You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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