Today’s RV review is of the Bowlus® Volterra™, that company’s newer and slightly larger, very high-end trailer that’s a bit of a tribute to the inspiration of the RVs built by Hawley Bowlus a century ago. There’s a lot to take in on this $310,000 trailer. But first, something that really annoys me—unsubstantiated claims.
The RV industry in general throws around a lot of claims. Words like “innovative” or “first ever” or all sorts of platitudes that can be easily disproven. And there’s one I see here: “first ever all-electric trailer.”
Apparently Bowlus RV folks haven’t been reading RV Travel or my reviews, because we all looked at the Palomino Revolve EV1 travel trailer more than a year ago and, guess what? It was an all-electric travel trailer. In fact, while the Bowlus does have provisions for propane heating, the Palomino did not. It is all electric, all the time. Period. End of story.
That doesn’t discount the fact that the Bowlus has some very impressive features or that it’s really a piece you either want or don’t. In some ways the Bowlus is like a Sub-Zero refrigerator or Rolex watch. It’s a combination of art form and very well-crafted parts and components. There absolutely are individuals who will appreciate that.
Off grid and solar
Since battery and solar are the features the Bowlus Volterra hangs its hat on, let’s look at that first. The Volterra has two flexible solar panels on the roof which work to charge 17kWh of lithium batteries. That is a lot.
For example, the company claims that their air conditioner can run for 16 hours on battery power alone with an ambient (outside) temperature of 100° F. They claim that it can run for twice that length of time when the ambient temperature is 85° F.
There is also a 3,000-watt inverter installed. That means you can run the induction cooktop, or really any of the items in this trailer, from battery power alone.
Four times the battery power of my trailer
I had described the Power Package system in my own trailer. This is almost four times as much battery power as what I have in my trailer, and our system is already impressive to me. To put that into perspective, as electricity expert Mike Sokol said, that’s the equivalent of 14 100 amp-hour lithium batteries.
Another interesting thing about the battery system in the Volterra is that the company claims that there’s enough power reserves aboard to provide an emergency charge to an EV and deliver a range of about 65 miles.
Details in the Bowlus Volterra
Aside from an insane solar package, there’s a lot to like about the Bowlus Volterra. Like those Rolex watches and Sub-Zero reefers, the details and parts on this are on a different level than what most of us are used to.
Instead of decals making the wood look nice, the wood is just wood. Nice wood. There are these “silent gravity” ceiling vents that seem almost marine to me. Even things like the tank monitors are better. They use “probeless” tank monitors, which are likely the SeeLeveL™ monitors.
Imagine your tank monitors working after the first use? Crazy, right? That alone may be worth the price of admission.
Cargo management tracks
Another interesting bit in the interior of the Volterra are cargo management tracks in the door frames. If you want to bring things like eBikes or kayaks this makes a lot of sense—you can actually tie them down.
Often these aluminum cargo tracks can really stand out in a trailer but this one has so many aluminum and stainless steel features that the cargo tracks aren’t really something you might even notice.
There are teak pieces, very high quality upholstery and just an attention to detail with high-end materials throughout. Further, this trailer absolutely stands out from anything else, including an Airstream. Yeah, yeah. They’re both riveted aluminum, but the shape of this is almost cigar-like with both ends almost coming to a point.
Boondocking and travel access
Boondocking is sort of the whole point here, with the monster quantity of battery power aboard. There are no slides in this trailer so you can get to anything at any time.
The Bowlus Volterra does have significantly more fresh water capacity than other Bowlus models, with 50 gallons of fresh water aboard. There is 31 gallons of gray water storage, as well. I’ve found I can go about three days with daily showers on a tank of this size.
You can absolutely tell time with an Apple Watch or even an old Timex from the thrift store, quite frankly. But there is still enough of a market for a Rolex that the company remains in business. Part of that absolutely is to have a Rolex on your arm and show others.
I am absolutely not the customer for a Rolex. My parents’ Depression-era upbringing and thriftiness carried over to me.
But I can appreciate when things are built better and even differently. There are a few things about the Bowlus Volterra that I have been blathering on about, including aerodynamics. While no RV is all that good aerodynamically, this one certainly is better than most. Far better.
Part of that is the fact that the air conditioner isn’t sticking up out of the roof, nor is much of anything else. That absolutely helps.
Impressive features in the Bowlus Volterra
The materials, build quality and finish on the Volterras are pretty impressive, and I have seen one in a campground. This one is slightly larger and has much more tank capacity, which is a plus. I also like the flexible interior design, as well as the details.
But, it’s also a $310,000 trailer with a wet bath. That alone will be a deal breaker for some.
The company has shown that they’re willing to go out on a limb to create something different. They then one-upped themselves, and so many other RV manufacturers, with a monster battery system. But there isn’t a tremendous amount of solar on the roof, so your time off-grid is potentially going to be affected by that.
The thing about this is that it may portend what we see in the mainstream at some point.
Remember, there was a time when aerodynamic cars were a novelty and things like fuel injection, power windows and disk brakes were only on the most luxurious of vehicles.
Try to find any mainstream auto without those features today.
Battery systems that we think of as advanced and shapes that are aerodynamic are a novelty today, but I don’t think that’ll be the case even five years from now. As demand for more efficient tow vehicles and even electric tow vehicles loom on the horizon, a trailer like the Bowlus Volterra makes a lot of sense.
Plus, let’s face it. It is kinda cool.
More from Tony
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Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong 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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Regarding the Bowlus, what makes a travel trailer an EV for tax incentive purposes? Just a lithium battery? Wouldn’t the wheels need “battery powered motors” to be an “ev”? From what I can tell none of the Bowlus models have such, so perhaps that’s not a criteria. I think most Tesla’s have such, and the Cybertruck will. I don’t know a ton about solar panels but there’s no point in a panel if you don’t have a big enough “cup” to store the accumulated energy. I assume that’s why there aren’t panels atop every EV thus far. What am I missing here?
Beautiful and Fantastic looking…however, I would cry at the first Hailstorm!..
Sigh, I’ll continue having a Blast in my Dimpled 2006 Airstream Safari that does similar things to the Bowlus for $40,000 ish..
I can’t afford one, but if given one, I’d gladly accept the gift
We are true Americans – buy cheap and complain about poor quality – see quality and complain about price.
If I had awards to give on the best comments I’ve seen in a while, you’d get first place.
Buy the best and cry only once.
I thought it was great when I read it, too. Yay, Kelly! First place! Have a good evening/night. 😀 –Diane
We have an RV with half the Lithium battery capacity (8,500 watt hours) and what appears to be about 50% more solar (we have 455 watts rated). That appears to be the right balance, in full sunlight of course. I agree that there is not enough solar here to realistically support boondocking. If you brought a generator, you might only need to run it every other day (for longer, of course), but for $300K you’d think they could have provided more solar…!
Everything happens for a reason. I love the Solar Flex system on Keystones, and now the Outlander system on Jaycos as well. LifePO4 batteries are great, and Battleborn is a great American company. That being said, until another rare earth metal is found, lithium is the key to battery making. Kinda makes you wonder why our government has repressed hydrogen power research and is spending billions of dollars on lithium powered battery cars (which I also like). The problems of hydrogen production, storage and delivery have been conquered by at least one enterprising American company, Plasma Kinetics. Soon, there will be others that will obviate str mining for lithium. In the meantime, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, countries rich in lithium, and recently visited by our Speaker of the House, and her son, will reap American tax dollars. Paul Pelosi, Jr. happens to be on the Boards of Directors of three, and possibly more, lithium mining companies in those Asian countries. Follow the money.
Like a Rolex, it’s pretty but not for me. $310k with a cassette toilet and no black tank? How does that work when boondocking? My first tent camper had a cassette toilet about that size. Not no but heck no.
If I ever see one of these out and about, my only thought would be more money than brains.
I saw one going down I-40 here in Texas. Had ******fornia plates on it. Got home, found the company on the internet, saw the price and said the exact same thing to my wife. More money than brains.
Still a free country. I wouldn’t buy a Rolex, but I can appreciate that they appeal to some folks.
I inherited a Mercedes Benz and gave it away to my nephew. But he loves it.
I don’t fault others for prioritizing things that appeal to them but not me.
Really cute and expensive dog watering and feeding station. Thats a grand alone.
Looking at the roof seeing all the vents. .
Am I wrong thing they are going to catch wind and tear off if left open or am I looking at it wrong?I
Dont build one for me.
I doubt that anyone that can afford it would have any interest in it. It’ll be interesting to see how many they sell. If I paid $310,000 for a trailer I’d be embarrassed to tell anybody
Yeah, I saw this thing a couple years ago, I think they’ve priced themselves out of their target market…a cassett toilet??? LOL
If it was about $300,000 less I would definitely have to have it! It’s beautiful! I love seeing these unique travel trailers.
Price to high. Agree with others tow hitch should be on back. Poorly designed interior. Do like the outside look.
Would benefit from Tony discussing structural cargo casting capacities in his reviews. Bing is nice. But how well built is it? Can it handle the weight of full tanks plus people, food, gear? Are the axles rated for max load? Are the tires strong enough to carry that load?
Seen far too many RVs, including large diesel pushers, whose CCC was inadequate or non-existent.
Give us the data, Tony.
I do when I can get it but even some RV companies where I get to speak with the designers often don’t know if their tanks can truly support the weight of their contents in all conditions.
In other words, sometimes even the people who build this stuff don’t fully know what they’re building. This isn’t the engineering that goes into the least pricey vehicle.
Nope! No way…
One might be able to tie their bikes down, but based on the pictures, don’t bother bringing much of anything else! Very lacking in cabinet storage. I also didn’t think the interior looked good at all. Is that cheesecloth over the windows??? 🙂
Unfortunately for me, there is just too much NOT to like about this unit. starting with the insane price tag. You could buy a new one ton pickup and a really nice trailer (TT or 5er) for this money and still have bucks left over for a few upgrades, or just to pay for fuel to go a-traveling. I will watch to see how many of these units I see along the fruited plains.
You pretty much summed up my opinion, Tommy! It’s just bling for egocentric folks!
Tommy always nails it.
Nope! Not even looking at it.
If I had unlimited cash I WOULD actually buy a Rolex for $310k before this.
It would fit right in during all my stays at the 4 Seasons…
If they wanted it to really be aerodynamic, they put the hitch on the wrong end. That rounded end with a door in it isn’t any more aerodynamic than the front end of an Airstream or much less-expensive fiberglass egg-shaped brands. However, having the hitch on the pointed end might make it more aerodynamic than anything else out there and justify at least some of the cost. Sure would like to see some wind-tunnel computer simulations of this Bowlus with each end tested into the wind.
I think you need to study aerodynamics. The shape of the rear of the trailer is far more important than the front.