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?

Comments

User commented on October 18, 2021 12:24 PM
User commented on October 18, 2021 12:25 PM
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:31 AM
Why on mentioning of towing range?
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:37 AM
It has limited capacity but definitely not for me.
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:46 AM
I am waiting for a self powered axle(assist motor similar to e-bikes but much bigger) built into any trailer (boat-RV-toyhauler). This would extend the range of any electric car or truck when towing. Step two would be a conversion kit for existing trailers so they too can stay on the road and be towed by e-vehicles.
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:56 AM
We had a Winnebago ERA. Midwest Automotive Designs is already making the change with the Xantra system. They have replaced the generator with 600ah of battery capacity and added all electric appliances and 12v A/C. No propane! Why hasn’t Winnebago made the switch?
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:56 AM
I have seen some pretty awesome dry bathrooms in some European RV such as the one where one of the walls in the bathroom completely folds in toward the commode in such a way to create a complete dry bathroom and shower all in the same space ?? Also some of the beds that during the day store in the ceiling and come down for the night ? I don’t know why our RV manufacturers in North America have not used these ingenious designs so far ???
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:01 AM
Unfortunately, because of politics and economics, we will probably not see electric motorhomes in the United States for a very long time. Unless Tesla builds one !! https://youtu.be/B7As3818lTg
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:02 AM
Unfortunately, we will probably not see electric motorhomes in the United States for a very long time, unless Tesla builds one !! https://youtu.be/B7As3818lTg
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:04 AM
Midwest Automotive Designs Passage and American Coach Patriot. EcoFreedom Package.
User commented on October 23, 2021 11:48 AM
A way to treat onboard wastewater and purify questionable freshwater would help extend time away from shore sources of utilities
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:14 PM
With the popularity of solar panels, I'm surprised they're not yet available as a factory installed option. Hybrid cars have been around for a long time now. Why not a hybrid RV?
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:46 PM
I am looking to buy an electric or Hybrid toy hauler type Motor Home with a garage big enough to haul a small electric car. I now have a diesel powered motor home and if I want to take a car along I have to hitch it up behind the Motor home which means I can 't back up unless I first unhitch the car. My car is a hybrid which I like because I don't have to stop and charge it. When I accelerate both engines are running so I have great acceleration and the gas motor charges the battery's
User commented on October 23, 2021 1:57 PM
My Hyunadai sonata hybrid is getting 55 mpg average. I do appreciate the concept of trailers carrying their own lithium batteries and regeneration application. But why cant Winnebago make a class B or C RV hybrid? The large lithium batteries will in most cases obsolete need for a generator. My 1999 Rialta (original owner) now enjoys the lithium powered Delta ecoflow 1350 power sation. Cost retail at wall-mart was$1100. It runs my roof (air engine off) for over an hour. The Delta ecoflow super fast recharges to 80% off my cobra 1500 watt Inverter while driving. Certainly the cost of my nightmare generac NP-30g, could have bought 3 of these in today's dollars. Resulting in no need for the (Iffy) solar pnales in most cases. Bring back a Rialta hybrid RV and Winnebago would own the world. Especially with $5 gas looming on the horizon.
User commented on October 23, 2021 4:37 PM
Thank you for writing this article. Every time I see an article or a video of an electric RV, it is from Europe or China. We would love to buy an E-RV made here! We just bought a Winnebago Solis this year and we'll be researching the possibility of converting to electric.
User commented on October 23, 2021 10:18 PM
1) 48 volt electrical systems instead of 12 volt systems. 2) Emphasis on drastic weight reduction. 3) Emphasis on aerodynamics in the design of rv bodies. 4) Development of hybrid gas & diesel Class A rv chassis. 5) Near term, use 10 speed transmissions in Ford Class A chassis instead of less efficient 6 speed.
User commented on October 24, 2021 6:02 AM
Catchy article. Towing range and recharge time are key factors. Clearly a directional dream - still, bring those terms forward. Something like "Today we can tow X miles with our Musk mobile, in 2025 experts expect this number to grow some percent due to more dreams becoming reality."
User commented on October 24, 2021 12:35 PM
Several comments above about using solar to recharge an EV presumably, and not just RV house batteries. In our motor home we have sufficient solar to charge up our Lithium house batteries in order to meet our daily electrical needs. BUT – only as long as our motor home is in full sun. When parking under trees in order to utilize cooling shade on hot days we suddenly have little solar generation. We have also been in situations where it has been extremely cloudy, smoky or rainy for days on end when we were thankful to have our gasoline powered generator to keep those batteries going. And we do not even have a residential refrigerator, but instead a dual power RV model which works great on our propane supply. If we had a newer RV with residential electrical refrigerator we would be totally out of luck relying on solar – even if drastically increased in size – because it would remain totally at the mercy of the weather gods. Which brings us to using RV solar to charge a towed EV. Do you realize how much electricity is required to do that? On a house one has tons of roof space to hold many solar panels. But we can only fit so much on our RV roof. I suppose if we were camped for days on-end in bright sun that we might barely keep the EV charged – but not if driven much. But the idea of using an EV’s regeneration capabilities to charge it up while being towed behind a large motor home (presumably gas or diesel) is backward thinking. It’s very much like the Tesla owner who carries around a Honda gasoline generator in his trunk in order to be able to supply some electricity for emergency charging. In terms of RV use it’s a zero sum game. Yes – it is theoretically possible to have the EV charge itself up – but at the cost of higher fuel consumption on the part of the towing motor home. Because the recharging EV creates greater drag in order to re-charge, which cause the RV to use more fuel. So what has been accomplished here? Might as well instead tow a much less expensive small, fuel efficient ICE car which can be re-fueled anywhere in the country in minutes and then offer many hundreds of miles in range. I am only reflecting my experience and current technological realities. I think the most promising technology going today are plug-in hybrids as they offer the best of both EV and ICE technologies. And at a lower price of entry without range anxieties exacerbated by climate extremes. And while EV advancements have, and will continue, to improve efficiencies I still question the future capacity of the grid to support huge numbers of EVs. But as long as the free-market is allowed to function it will develop solutions to help address both that as well as improve various automotive technologies. But I do not see a 100% EV future at all, but instead a continuation of the present – where the consumer has the choice of many different fuel sources to power their personal transportation needs – as defined by their budget, geographical location, and use requirements. And that is where the future should be – consumer driven, not a government mandated force feeding of expensive and unworkable technologies. I strongly agree with the concept of improved RV design to achieve less fuel and electrical consumption. There are always improvements which can be done, and I am all for those mentioned. Lithium batteries made a huge difference in our boondocking capabilities, and even better batteries in the future can only improve on that. While I love my RV solar setup it is not perfect 100% of the time. That is not reality – for me or for anyone else relying on solar. Weather realities do not allow it, no matter where you are. When it works it is wonderful. But when the weather does not cooperate thank goodness for my ICE generator to keep things working.
User commented on October 24, 2021 12:57 PM
I wonder when flat-towable EVs will be available that can generate power to recharged its own, as well as the coach’s, batteries while being towed. Kind of like regenerative breaking in reverse. But it would need to automatically disengage when batteries are fully charged so it doesn’t cause unnecessary drag.
User commented on October 24, 2021 1:41 PM
I'd like to see better training of authorized dealers for repairs.
User commented on October 24, 2021 3:10 PM
Exterior all-around security cameras and alarms with direct signal to the owner's cellphone, and loud, audible alert from the RV. Heavy-duty, doubly secure locks on ALL entrances. Reflective, heavily-tinted windows on all sides (except half on the windshield). Lastly, the retail prices are way, way out of line with the very professional job that independent conversion companies are selling their RVs for. If Winnebago wants to re-gain the majority of the market back (the independent conversion companies are making a killing, even at half-price of what Winnebago charges) they have to accept a lower profit margin, for now. The potential for this business has grown so much, that there ARE many competitors out there, let's face it. Joe
User commented on October 24, 2021 3:31 PM
Although I am a proponent of EV I am concerned about the disposal of the batteries, the removal of the elements to manufacture, and the contamanates created during the manufacturing of the batteries.
User commented on October 24, 2021 8:04 PM
All-electric or hybrid electric RV, more efficient solar panels and standard Li coach batteries, Coach floor plan with a smaller cooktop, smaller microwave, in order to allow for more general storage for those of us who don’t need to cook elaborate meals. 80” passenger bed in Travato K is excessive; Better to have that space for storage or to put in a couple of forward facing jump seats for the occasional 3rd or 4th passenger.
User commented on October 26, 2021 9:30 AM
Hello! Check out the Winnebago EKKO and Revel for the features you mentioned. https://www.winnebago.com/models/product/motorhomes/class-c/ekko https://www.winnebago.com/models/product/motorhomes/camper-van/revel Thanks!
User commented on October 28, 2021 1:18 PM
The person that wrote......"User commented on October 24, 2021 12:35 PM" Thank You for having common sense and being realistic in your thought process. It's hard to find these days. 100% accurate! I was going to comment with a similar response and read yours. No need to repeat !
User commented on November 1, 2021 7:00 PM
i full heartedly agree about the new technology being incorporated into RVng. The last comment in the article mentioned the most important issue. A back up power source. Because RVs take much more abuse ( weather, vibrations, water, temperature ) This is why when i ordered my Ekko, i changed out the generator for the extra battery, and will also store a portable gas generator in the place where the exterior Kitchen would go. The extra battery, generator and additional alternator is important for boondocking in extreme conditions and time. I’m still waiting for my delivery, but EXTREMELY excited to experience, the WINNIE Way. I think, the Ekko design is and will lead to further design changes and improvements. Other than custom designs Ekko is the closest to perfect… especially when ordering without the graphic swoosh !!! Thank you for the option….