By Russ and Tiña De Maris
While European RVers will soon have the ability to buy electric-driven motorhomes, no U.S. manufacturers have successfully moved to market. But there is a glimmer of light – Winnebago and GMAG Holdings Corporation recently pumped a $60 million investment in funding to Motiv Power Systems, a California-based company that builds all-electric chassis for mid-sized commercial vehicles. Under the new investment scheme, Motiv will open a new facility in Detroit, Michigan, for engineering and manufacturing.
The decade-old Motiv has successfully turned mid-sized rigs like garbage trucks and school buses into e-vehicles, literally chopping thousands of tons of air pollutants from being released into the skies. Could the same trick work with recreational vehicles? Winnebago took the investment action after Motiv equipped a Winnebago motorhome with an electric drive system. Although the unit never saw service as an RV, it has successfully toured about, in use as a medical facility mobile operations unit. The rig’s limited mile range of 85 to 125 miles on a full charge makes it unpalatable for an RV application.
But as prophets for the electric vehicle industry like to point out, technology is making advancements. Motiv’s more recent accomplishments include equipping bread delivery vans, postal trucks, and other short-range-but-plenty-of-stops units doable in the short range. As battery prices decrease and their energy density increases, the idea of jumping into your motorhome for an extended vacation without having to pump gas or diesel fuel becomes closer to a reality. If prices for all-electrics even come close to those of fossil-fuel driven rigs, the reduced cost of maintenance and repair for electrics will certainly make them financially attractive – not to mention the better feeling that will come with truly zero emissions.