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Winnebago rolled out their fully operational eRV2 camper van in January of this year. But it’s not available for sale. Instead, Winnebago is using it to gather feedback and to learn what an all-electric RV might look like down the road. Stef and I got our turn to go test-camping in it in March. This video with a brief walk-through and our impressions sums it all up!
Before we get too far into it, it’s important to stress that this iteration of the eRV2 is not for sale, and is mainly an information-gathering exercise for Winnebago. Everyone realizes that an RV with a 108 mile range is going to be limiting for a lot of folks (including us). But leaving that aside, there’s still a lot to be learned from giving it a try, even in these early days of all-electric vehicles. Winnebago has sent out lots and lots of test campers, and all of us have been providing feedback to the mother ship on what all aspects of the experience were like: from the layout of the van itself to how it interacted with public charging stations along our way.
The Floor Plan
Since this RV is not actually available for sale, we didn’t go full-out with the review. But even so, this video will give you a pretty good idea what it’s like. The eRV2 is built on a *non-extended* Ford eTransit van. This means it fits into parking spaces completely, which is important for working with our current landscape of public charging stations. Since the van is rather short, some trade-offs were made in the interior layout.
There’s no sink in the bathroom, for example (though there is one nearby). The galley counter does not feature a cooktop, with the induction cooktop being stored in a drawer when not in use. The refrigerator is a bit smaller than we’re used to in our EKKO, but it works just fine. There’s no specific wardrobe, and there’s no microwave. None of these are deal breakers, and in exchange, you get an extremely maneuverable van. You literally could take this RV anywhere.
One standout in the floor plan was the front workstation behind the driver’s seat. I was working during our week with the eRV2, and I liked working in that space more than I thought I would.
Unlike a “regular” motorhome, the eRV2 does not generate power through an alternator while you drive. This means it doesn’t charge the house batteries while driving. That was probably the biggest difference for us as compared to our EKKO. Both the house and the chassis now required charging.
Fortunately, they can both be charged in similar ways, and the way we found easiest was charging directly at the campsite. With a 50A and a 20A connection, everything could be charged up overnight. DC fast charging was reserved for the chassis batteries. You could (though we didn’t test this) charge the house batteries at a public Level 2 charging station.
Overall, the public charging landscape felt a bit like the Wild West to us – with different procedures and different experiences at each charger we went to. We’re sure that will evolve over time until it reaches the near-ubiquity we have with gas stations today.
This is probably something only I would think about, but I found it interesting to list out all the different electrical systems at work in the eRV2. I run through this in the video, but there are no fewer than six (6!) different voltage/current systems at work.
- The traction battery for the eTransit is a 400 volt DC battery.
- The eTransit has a 12v DC system for things like dash lights, and USB ports. So there’s a DC/DC converter in there somewhere.
- The eTransit also has Ford ProPower on board, which provices 120 volt AC power. So there’s an inverter in the chassis as well.
- The Lithionics house battery is a 48 volt DC battery. Not much runs directly on 48 volts except the air conditioner (which was amazingly efficient).
- The House has a 12 volt system as well for lights, the water pump, and normal RV stuff.
- And finally the House has a 120 volt inverter as well, for running standard outlets, the heater, the water heater, etc.
Keeping all that straight and working properly with each other is an interesting engineering feat. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
I was particularly intrigued by the 48 volt house battery. Lithionics developed a special battery for this use, and so I’m curious as to how the 48 volt architecture will creep into Winnebago’s product line going forward. Their Volta systems were already 48 volts, so this is another interesting option for Winnebago. Many have suspected that 48 volt systems were the wave of the future in RVing, and perhaps this is the start of that.
While we’re just at the beginning of all-electric RVs, there’s a lot that still needs to get worked out. But having this test camping experience was certainly an eye-opener, and we’re excited to see how eRVs will evolve. Feel free to leave comments or questions below!