Airstream parent company Thor signs MOU with ZF to build electric RV

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Lou Schneider

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From the article:
It communicates with the car through the 4-pin connector in the same way RVs do now to engage brake lights and ABS, simply applying torque to the axle when the driver of the tow vehicle presses on the “go” pedal.
A trailer that can propel itself with powered wheels would greatly increase the fuel efficiency of an ICE truck/trailer rig, allow smaller, more efficient vehicles to safely haul and stop heavier loads, and make recreational camping a bit more accessible to new audiences.
The article sounds like it was written by someone who's never towed a trailer in their life. We already know how "smaller, more efficient" SUVs respond when asked to handle larger trailers - power and braking aren't the limiting safety parameters.
 

Utclmjmpr

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In the old days when I worked for a Harley Davidson dealer, I was rebuilding harley transmissions.. A leading motorcycle magazine wanted to do an article on the process,, after a full day of observing the process and taking pictures,,he went off to write the article.. After publication I read it and if a person actually used this info,, I guarantee the trans would be junk in 10 seconds..>>>Dan
 

Larry N.

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Many years ago I wrote an article about flying the Stearman for a travel magazine. The proofs I got back looked OK, but in the published article the editor apparently didn't understand what I was trying to say in one spot and changed the wording slightly, completely destroying the intent of what I said in that sentence (thankfully he didn't touch anything else). Apparently he felt he had to do something to make it his.
 

Kirk

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It is a rare and talented writer that can write about a technical field which he isn't well informed and do so well. Worse yet, most journalism majors seem to have an attitude much like attorneys that they know more than anyone else. On the other hand, there is a pretty good chance that Thor does know at least a little bit about RVs and RV building.
 

Jayflight

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I read the story and looked at the details of powering up a TT. Before moving along to more mechanical stuff to maintain, it would be nice if manufacturers in general would concentrate on actually building their TTs so that most of the ones coming off the line did not need to spend numerous hours back at a dealer being corrected and made road and campground worthy.

Maybe Airstream does a wee bit better job on sending out a better unit. But I have not read where adding electric assist to the TT will be a savings on fuel enough to deal with down the road possibilities of keeping that portion of the TTs operational along with the campers.
 

Lou Schneider

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One advantage is if you don't drive too far, the trailer will have plenty of power for boondocking.
 

Skookum

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Journalism aside, I just thought this was neat that Thor / Airstream was jumping in with an electric TT. And I do have hope that it might be a decently made product.

Probably no worrying about CPAP or charging a laptop and/or wireless internet equipment while boon docking! If it provides supplemental power to the tow vehicle, that would be nice too.
 

Henry J Fate

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Interesting concept.

The tow vehicle will first need to handle the weight of the RV. Once that is met, you could easily say that a second battery bank in the trailer to power the tow vehicle would be enough. On second thought, a driven axle in the RV may allow to under size the electric motor in the vehicle for better economy when not towing the RV. In that case, an assist motor in the trailer would take the strain off the undersized motor in the electric vehicle (or a gas powered vehicle) and allow a tow of bigger loads.

I think some of this on paper makes some sense. Not alot but some. It is not surprising to see this stuff. Electric vehicle technology so far leaves alot to be desired but its getting better. The biggest mistake in the industry is that a major step was skipped. Much like the switch from full gas to the hybrid, the industry somehow forgot that the switch to full electric from the hybrid should have included a small gas generator for charging batteries when needed. This would help the range problems. From there they could plan a complete switch to electric only or enjoy the two different markets with the additional step. Not sure why this step was skipped but it is a sensible step and solves lots of issues for the folks that want an electric vehicle but are not thrilled about the range ratings and the true range. I can say with great certainty that any rating of distance on EVs will be far less in the real world. Air conditiining alone will reduce range by 25% especially in the warmer climates where air conditioning is needed 8 months a year or more and in the colder climates you need heat.
 
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Viajeros

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Interesting concept.

The tow vehicle will first need to handle the weight of the RV. Once that is met, you could easily say that a second battery bank in the trailer to power the tow vehicle would be enough. On second thought, a driven axle in the RV may allow to under size the electric motor in the vehicle for better economy when not towing the RV. In that case, an assist motor in the trailer would take the strain off the undersized motor in the electric vehicle (or a gas powered vehicle) and allow a tow of bigger loads.

I think some of this on paper makes some sense. Not alot but some. It is not surprising to see this stuff. Electric vehicle technology so far leaves alot to be desired but its getting better. The biggest mistake in the industry is that a major step was skipped. Much like the switch from full gas to the hybrid, the industry somehow forgot that the switch to full electric from the hybrid should have included a small gas generator for charging batteries when needed. This would help the range problems. From there they could plan a complete switch to electric only or enjoy the two different markets with the additional step. Not sure why this step was skipped but it is a sensible step and solves lots of issues for the folks that want an electric vehicle but are not thrilled about the range ratings and the true range. I can say with great certainty that any rating of distance on EVs will be far less in the real world. Air conditiining alone will reduce range by 25% especially in the warmer climates where air conditioning is needed 8 months a year or more and in the colder climates you need heat.
I’m not an expert by any means but AC certainly doesn’t reduce our range by 25 percent. Maybe 10???

Jmho.
 

Henry J Fate

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I’m not an expert by any means but AC certainly doesn’t reduce our range by 25 percent. Maybe 10???

Jmho.
It depends on the heat load and the type of travel. Up to 25% may be a better term but the most alarming issue with EV air conditioning/ heat is that dealers have been educated to not discuss it or just give happy numbers. Try searching online. It still leaves lots of questions. One dealer I spoke to said that there is no way to actually calculate the impact of ac/heat because of the varying loads. (ya right) I then asked what the max current draw is on the air conditioning unit. I was told it was a good question. (ya right) He made a phone call to end up with a "we dont know". I thought..... Nobody knows the answer to this? Well, we were serious about the purchase but needed a better understanding of range as it was not going to be a grocery store mule. Finally I was able to talk to a technician who owned the same car we were looking at. We also just happened to know each other. He gave me the 25% figure and also offered to say that the range thats advertised would rarely be realized if ever and that he dosent use the car to its maximun range and would not. He uses a gas vehicle for that. The EV was just for local trips and of course he gets his discount and other things. But I was told not to depend on the rated range. I never did ask him what the max current draw of the ac unit was. I was so happy to get some real info that I forgot to ask.

So back to my original issue.... Why is it that they have not fitted electric cars with a small generator and gas tank for charging? It seems logical and accommodating for the EV transition. What kind of extra range could you get from a small generator and 5 gallons of gas? How about 3 gallons of gas. And wouldn't this finally give the oil industry the go ahead to crank up gas prices to 10 bucks a gallon? That would keep most from relying on the generator for charging or at least pay attention to it.

Maybe this should be a thread of its own.
 

Viajeros

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It depends on the heat load and the type of travel. Up to 25% may be a better term but the most alarming issue with EV air conditioning/ heat is that dealers have been educated to not discuss it or just give happy numbers. Try searching online. It still leaves lots of questions. One dealer I spoke to said that there is no way to actually calculate the impact of ac/heat because of the varying loads. (ya right) I then asked what the max current draw is on the air conditioning unit. I was told it was a good question. (ya right) He made a phone call to end up with a "we dont know". I thought..... Nobody knows the answer to this? Well, we were serious about the purchase but needed a better understanding of range as it was not going to be a grocery store mule. Finally I was able to talk to a technician who owned the same car we were looking at. We also just happened to know each other. He gave me the 25% figure and also offered to say that the range thats advertised would rarely be realized if ever and that he dosent use the car to its maximun range and would not. He uses a gas vehicle for that. The EV was just for local trips and of course he gets his discount and other things. But I was told not to depend on the rated range. I never did ask him what the max current draw of the ac unit was. I was so happy to get some real info that I forgot to ask.

So back to my original issue.... Why is it that they have not fitted electric cars with a small generator and gas tank for charging? It seems logical and accommodating for the EV transition. What kind of extra range could you get from a small generator and 5 gallons of gas? How about 3 gallons of gas. And wouldn't this finally give the oil industry the go ahead to crank up gas prices to 10 bucks a gallon? That would keep most from relying on the generator for charging or at least pay attention to it.

Maybe this should be a thread of its own.
I believe BMW still makes the i3 which has something like you are talking about. A small motorcycle engine with a 2 gallon gas tank. It’s an option called “range extender”.

Honestly I can’t recall a single time when a range extender would have been useful for us in our Tesla and we do lots of road trips. But everyone travels differently I suppose. To each his own.

On our leaf there was a gauge you could see how much power was being drawn by the various systems. Getting into a hot car that had been sitting in the sun the AC would draw about 4 kw or so. But within ten minutes was about half of that and within another 10 minutes was under a kilowatt. Hope that helps.

Not an expert.
 

Lou Schneider

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So back to my original issue.... Why is it that they have not fitted electric cars with a small generator and gas tank for charging? It seems logical and accommodating for the EV transition. What kind of extra range could you get from a small generator and 5 gallons of gas? How about 3 gallons of gas. And wouldn't this finally give the oil industry the go ahead to crank up gas prices to 10 bucks a gallon? That would keep most from relying on the generator for charging or at least pay attention to it.

Maybe this should be a thread of its own.
They already do, it's called a plug-in hybrid. It just comes with a smaller battery to offset the cost of the gas engine. A generator in an electric vehicle would have to meet all of the same emission requirements as a gas powered car, you can't just package up a Honda EU3000i and call it good. Plus the EV would no longer be a Zero Emission Vehicle with all of the related credits.
 

DonTom

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I wonder the percentage of gas cars running out of gas compares the BEVs (ie, Battery ONLY EV). I find it rather difficult to run out of juice in a BEV. You have a SOC (State of Charge) meter as well warnings (such as if the Tesla GPS is used) if there is likely to be any issue on your route, before you even leave.

My new ICE RV has "miles to empty" displayed. All BEVs have SOC which is something like that, but more accurate, showing how much percentage of battery charge you have left. You can also see miles of range left in every BEV I have seen. You can go a little below 0, but with warnings before the car (or motorcycle) goes dead to pull over ASAP. But only an idiot would have the possibility of being that low on a charge. One would have to ignore all types of warnings, in most cases, often before the trip even starts.

-Don- Tifton, GA
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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As Lou explains, the generator would essentially have to be a standalone charger, i.e. not used while driving, to get around the emissions thing. And a hour or two of 120v charging from a Honda 1000 or 2000 is only going to give a dozen or so miles of range. Better than being stranded, though. But the same weight and space could be used to provide a bigger battery in the first place.

For the kind of emergency charge assist that Henry is talking about, you can just carry that Honda in the trunk.
 

DonTom

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For the kind of emergency charge assist that Henry is talking about, you can just carry that Honda in the trunk.
Makes more sense to bring a portable DC fast charger. But they are pricy. Charge at 45KW instead of 1.4KW. Around 32 times as fast as your 120 VAC.

But as I have said before, only an idiot would run out of juice in a BEV. One can easily know in advance it will happen and plan for such.

-Don- Tifton, GA
 
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Jayflight

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Maybe I can help offset the cost of my new hybrid and travels by selling recharge power to the EV owners along the highways using my built in inverter generator. ;)
 

Skookum

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I’m not an expert by any means but AC certainly doesn’t reduce our range by 25 percent. Maybe 10???

Jmho.

I'm not familiar with EV HVAC systems. Do they use an electric heat pump, or do they use any thermal energy created by the battery?

ICE vehicle HVAC runs the AC pump like it's free. Modern systems have humidity sensors that seemingly have the AC compressor all the time no matter what mode it's set to. I hope EV HVAC systems are a little more mindful of the potential energy drain.
 

DonTom

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I'm not familiar with EV HVAC systems.
Read this and then you will be. You can lose 60 miles of range with all the heating or cooling stuff on full. Around 16.5%. But how often do we leave such stuff on for that long?

I have never noticed the difference with the stuff on or off. But I have never been in the situation where the range was an issue in my EV cars. I wish I could say that about my EV motorcycles, but even then, it is rare for it to be an issue in the areas I mostly ride.

-Don- Tifton, GA
 
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