Innovations to Look Out for in the Future of RVing

Innovations to Look Out for in the Future of RVing
What opportunities are there to incorporate electric vehicle technology into RVs?
By: Becca & Brian Roy

From Sikorsky based flying RVs to all-electric Class A concepts, Winnebago has been a pioneer in the future of RVing. 

We are new to the RVsphere in general, having just picked up our first trailer (a Winnebago Micro Minnie 2106DS) back in December 2020. But we didn’t just simply learn the ins-and-outs of a towable, we did so with an electric vehicle as our tow vehicle! 

Since going electric back in 2015, we have overcome the ‘range anxiety’ associated with electric vehicles. Our first electric car, a Nissan Leaf, could only take us within an 80-mile radius. Our current vehicle, the Tesla Model X, can traverse just under 300 miles of everyday driving. 

In just six years, we’ve seen improved battery chemistry, more efficient motors and a tenfold increase in charging infrastructure. With this vast improvement in technology, we expect to see more and more companies introducing electric vehicles with more impressive capabilities.

The Potential in Batteries

With these improvements and the increase in EV adoption, we expect to see more of this technology spill over into the RV world. The top feature we would like to see is integration of onboard battery storage. 

Integrated, More Efficient Batteries

As batteries become denser and we see increased efficiencies in the performance of photovoltaic cells, this surely could be a reality in the near future. We envision this technology will get to the point that it would make bringing a generator along for boondocking trips obsolete. 

Integrated batteries in the floor of the camper, while adding weight, would increase stability. Tesla’s consistently rank high in crash test safety because the batteries installed along the floor lowers the center of gravity. 

Symbiotic RV-Car Relationships

With onboard batteries and the announcement of V2G (vehicle to grid) capabilities, we also imagine the potential for a more symbiotic relationship between camper and vehicle where one can power the other. 

For example, if you are boondocking for an extended period and your camper batteries are full, you could choose to charge your vehicle off the battery or solar panels. This is just like how solar panels can power a house while simultaneously charging batteries. 

V2G is not just a future possibility. Ford and Tesla have both announced this feature will be available on upcoming releases with their Lightning and Cybertruck respective offerings.

Regenerative Braking

Another feature we’d like to see is regenerative braking on RVs to charge the onboard batteries.  All EVs share this feature. Regenerative braking creates friction in the rotor as the vehicle slows down which feeds energy back to the battery. 

This would be a great feature to see on a towable as it would charge the onboard batteries of the RV while in transit while also feeding energy to the vehicle. This technology would provide longer range and ensure fully charged batteries upon arrival at your destination. 

An added benefit of regenerative braking is that it actually saves your brake pads. The feature does most of the braking, meaning the brake pads are rarely used, lengthening their life.

Reducing Battery Drain

Another change that could increase range of using our electric vehicle to tow is a more aerodynamic design in the structure of the RV itself. A redesign of the shape would increase the range by decreasing drag, therefore, reducing the drain on the tow vehicle battery. 

Another option would be to upgrade the tires. Most EVs have low rolling resistance tires to increase performance. Upgrading the RV tires should increase range as well.

With current technology, increasing efficiency is key. Adding batteries and solar panels to a camper may not be enough to truly advance the EV RV experience with today’s offerings. RVs outfitted with more efficient appliances would add greater efficiency by using less energy stored in the battery. 

For example, a heat pump hot water heater uses a fraction of the energy, however, it does require more space than a typical water heater. Higher SEER rated AC units would also be a viable option to lower energy usage.

What Does the Future of RVing Look Like?

Although we are happy towing at the moment, we would love to see the technology currently in EVs incorporated into a fully electric class B or class A. With technologies improving at these rates, we don’t think we’re that far off from seeing a real-world example in the near future. 

As batteries get more efficient and lightweight, incorporation into travel trailers is key. Just as current home solution options can power larger drain appliances, such as dishwashers, washer/dryer machines and, most important to camping, the air conditioner, RVs can benefit from this technology as well. 

With a rooftop array of highly efficient panels, coupled with low drain appliances, these higher-efficiency onboard batteries could extend the camping experience indefinitely and eliminate the need for a generator.

Resources to Stay Up to Date with New EV Technology

Interested in learning more about advancements in EV technology? Some of the resources we use to stay up to date with late-breaking EV news and technology come from:

Between these three sources, you can learn about advancements in cell chemistry, breakthrough storage, and application news. Plus, up-to-date announcements for future electric vehicles and their capabilities.

What Potential Future Developments in RV Technology Would Mean for Us

These advancements would mean the ability to stray further from home. And getting there faster. Without having to stop and charge on the way there or the way home, we could spend more time at our destination. We would also have peace of mind that we have a backup power source, if needed. 

We are hopeful that these dreams become a reality sooner rather than later. With the innovation we’ve seen from Winnebago in the past, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

What are some features you’d like to see in future Winnebago models?

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