Soon-to-launch all-electric motorhome – reality or hype?

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

If alternative energy and RVing spark your interest, read on. Imagine the motorhome of the future: no smelly diesel fuel to pump, no high-priced gasoline to purchase. Yep, imagine the advent of an electric motorhome. This is not “future tech” stuff, says German motorhome builder WOF, it’s a “see it today, buy it next year” vehicle.


WOF and its partner EFA-S are showcasing their Iridium E Mobil, a C-Class unit powered by “a synchronous motor, a lithium iron phosphate battery and the EFA-S self-developed battery management system,” reads a press release from WOF. Discussing the marvels of the rig’s power train system, “Energy is recovered and stored during braking with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology.” And in what might be a bit of high-flying puffery, one company spokesman gleefully exclaimed, “The motorhome practically refuels when braking.”

Well, let’s sort out the hype from the “known” facts. And we use heavy emphasis on the “known” part here. The expected operating range of Iridium’s fully charged battery bank is 200 kilometers. So, if you bring your Iridium to Quartzsite, Arizona, for the big RV show, you MAY just be able to get to Phoenix before you need to find a charging system. Does that include frequent braking to “practically refuel” the batteries along the way? If that’s a factor, then you better figure on finding a charging station along the way.

Speaking of charging, here’s another one for the “nebulous information” section: “It is charged at the conventional socket, at charging stations up to 22 kW or at CCS fast-charging stations with up to 50 kW. How long it takes to charge the battery is not yet known.” Well, maybe it’s a good thing this is a motorhome, one presumes equipped with a bed, bathroom and galley. If you’re stuck charging for a long time, it’ll be good to have all those other comforts available.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re as excited about the possibilities as the next guy. But we’re not buying any plane tickets to Stuttgart in January where the Iridium will be shown publicly at the Travel Fair CMT. The company obviously has fewer reservations about the matter than we do. They’ve shelled out the big bucks to get one of the most visible and sought-after spots at the fair – right at the entrance where all can see.

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Stephen Willey

Level one charging (120 volt 15 amp) could be done from the RV park for a small fee— or none, as it uses about the same as an air condityioner.

tom

what needed is a removable battery pack that is universal to ev’s. like your portable power tools, but across the vehicle spectrum. Pull into ev refueling station, remove and replace battery pack, and off you go.
lease the battery pack. leasing company owns pack, charging station and infrastructure.

Mike Sokol

Actually, most of the technology needed for large electric vehicles is already here, it’s really a matter of providing a large enough charging infrastructure and low enough price point. What it takes to make this happen is largely political will and vision. In the USA there are always changing administrations and politicians worried about getting reelected, so plans can change every 4 years depending on voters (I’m not saying this is a bad thing). But in China they don’t have to worry about the distractions of getting reelected (I personally think that’s a bad thing), which allows them to plan for decades in advance. That’s why China is already leading the world in production of solar panels, wind turbines, and possibly electric vehicles. Here’s an article on a huge electric bus fleet which could be a model for the rest of the world. And yes, China isn’t some little country like Germany, it’s HUGE. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/dec/12/silence-shenzhen-world-first-electric-bus-fleet

Rory Roberts

For several years now American bus conversion company, Parliament has been working on an all electric powered bus conversion. Parliament is based in Fl and has been in the business of converting Prevost buses into MH’s. Yeah I know that is a little too rich for most people’s wallets, and a lot too rich for mine, but as in the past the newest technology starts in the high-end coaches and works it’s way into the more affordable coaches and then to the entire lineup, across the board. I just thought it was worth mentioning. For several years they have been mostly remodeling and updating coaches. I’m assuming that was so they could focus on the new technology. If you are interested here is a link to a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou62D-8t1kE

Mike Sokol

Perhaps I’ve mentioned this previously, but last year I did the sound for a plant-wide employee meeting at one of the world’s largest heavy truck manufacturers. This was for the engine and drive train division that builds hundreds of huge diesel engines and transmissions every day. And the president of the company told his workers that he saw all-electric semi-trucks were coming in the near future. The previous year they only had one design engineer working on the idea of an electric semi-truck. But they had just hired 200 new design engineers to develop an all-electric engine and power train for their large diesel trucks. And when the crowd asked why, the president of the company simply said “Elon Musk”. He said that up until the latest version of Elon’s electric vehicles they had all assumed that electric semi-trucks would be 20 years in the future. Now they thought that in 3 to 5 years production electric trucks could be a reality. So the large diesel truck manufacturers are paying attention to this. Of course, once the batteries, charging stations and electric motors are available for semi-trucks, then RVs won’t be far behind. RVers by themselves will never be a large enough market to drive this technology, but semi-trucks will be a huge market when it happens. So it’s going to get really interesting in the next few years. I can’t wait.

Captn John

It does not look much larger than a van, how about pulling a toad? Maybe they will be acceptable for my great grandchildren….. they still have decades of work on the technology to do.

Jeff

This is similar to the proposed Propane vehicles that happened several years ago. There is only a small handful of Propane service stations around the country. The Infrastructure is just not there for Electric Charging stations, plus it does not say how much replacement batteries would cost WHEN they have to be replaced, and they will have to be replaced! The cost of batteries would be in the thousands.

Creating an Electric vehicle in Germany could work for that country, since Germany is NOT that large and it would be feasible to have charging stations around the country. But, in the USA not feasible, unless you tow a generator with you. RV Parks ARE NOT going to invest in special setups for Electric Vehicles. Allot of RV parks in the US don’t even keep up their current pedestals!

I would definitely pass on a vehicle like this, until the US infrastructure can accommodate these vehicles.

Wolfe

An electric propulsion RV coupled with a steady-running generator could be a winner… diesel-electric is far more efficient than direct drive. It’s unlikely you’d want to carry a generator big enough to propel yourself continuously, but even a 4KW (large enough for AC offgrid when you stop) could extend the range to reasonably useful if you’re not a 600mi/day type.

Making the wild guess that 22KW is 1C (1 hour charging) and 50KW is 2C, the 120mi range RV uses about 11KW/hr… an 8KW genny might get you 6-7 hours driving at 3KW deficit/hr). Of course, this is ALL wild guessing without actual capacity/usage data.

Bob p

Once Elon Musk installs free super charging stations every 100 meters this will be an excellent idea, you drive 124 miles, plug in prepare a meal, get 8 hrs sleep unplug and you’re off and running for another 124 miles, sounds like a plan to me. Lol