Winnebago’s First ALL ELECTRIC RV – the eRV!


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Y’all know that electric RVs are the future, right?

It won’t be tomorrow, and it might not be next year, but in the future, it’s a pretty safe bet that RVs will someday go all-electric.  That means electric for all the house systems, AND electric for the drive system as well.  Winnebago knows this, and they don’t want to be caught on their back foot when that time comes.  So they’ve jumped ahead of the learning curve to build the eRV, their first ALL electric RV.

 

Nick and I go way back.  He once stuffed me into a trunk.  (True story.)  He’s now working with Winnebago’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG), which is absolutely the place I would want to work if I was working at Winnebago.  ATG’s charter is to explore new technologies to see how they might affect or be incorporated into future products.  And there’s no better way to learn what you don’t know about electric RVs than to build one – so that’s what they did.  The eRV is the result.

Now, please don’t call your dealer and ask them when you can get an eRV.  For now, you can consider the eRV as a kind of concept vehicle – something Winnebago has built as a learning exercise, and to judge public reaction.  There are currently no concrete plans to manufacture and sell the vehicle you see in the video.

But even though you can’t get one, it’s still interesting to watch and listen to the video and catch a glimpse of what the future of RVing might be like.

Enjoy!



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    32 thoughts on “Winnebago’s First ALL ELECTRIC RV – the eRV!

    1. Joe McGuire

      Sounds like they’re able to get about 1.4 miles per kWh.. DC fast charging rates can run in the 30 to 45 cents per kWh, so 20 miles would cost about $5.71 assuming you’re dependent on DC fast charging. That puts it a bit above current peak gas/diesel prices in terms of energy costs. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with campgrounds – I can only imagine they’ll ban EV charging or limit you to certain campsites that cost more and are properly rated for the load. If a bunch of EV RVs pulled into a campground and all started charging at 10kW continuous each, I can only imagine an electrical fire would start somewhere. While the consumer might want 300 miles, I don’t think an average consumer is willing to deal with 24 hour recharge durations off a 50A Level2/AC charger. As batteries gain capacity, they also come with a higher burden to recharge. The best gains would be in electrical/aerodynamic/rolling efficiency, but not sure how much there is to gain there. A high roof van will never look like a Prius. I’ll still be very excited for an EV RV one day, but I think they’re farther out than one might think.

      Reply
    2. Howard Brayman

      I wonder how many campgrounds and RV parks will be able to handle the electrical load from a large number of electric RVs charging overnight. (I would expect a surcharge for an eRV.)
      200 miles per day would be fine for us, but our biggest challenge is that we camp in many places without any hookups, such as the Adirondack State Parks in NY.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        If they can handle large numbers of RVs running multiple air conditioners, then I think they could handle the same load charging a battery bank. Granted, it would be a slow charge, but it would work.

        Reply
        1. Joe McGuire

          I was thinking the same for a while, but an AC usually runs about 1500W. So 2 would pull 3kW. Aside from heaters/AC units, most other loads in an RV are pretty small/transient. The Ford eTransit has an onboard 11.3kW charger for level 2 charging. This appears to be designed to max out a dedicated 50A circuit. Charging at full 11.3kW would be like an RV running 7.5 AC units, but most importantly it would need to run at this rate for many hours which is where heat can build up and bad things can happen.

    3. Brad Lawrence

      Great interview, James, as always. You and Stef are the best. Can’t wait to see how the e-revolution changes the RV world (and the natural world) for the better.

      Reply
    4. J. Rapp

      I saw this rig at the GNR; really liked it. Also, met Nick and his team members. I am with you James, that would be a great job.

      Reply
    5. Peter Griffin

      James, nice Orbea! Love the idea but we want a garage class B to store our bikes and there just aren’t many Class B’s with that design. Hence, we’ve gone custom. Can’t wait to see where electric goes in 5 years.

      Reply
    6. Andy & Kim

      So exciting to see this peek at the future, you go Winnebago!
      Just a thought of an option for longer range travel. Why not design a trailer to tow behind that is loaded with just a large battery bank and solar array on it’s roof all tied into the Transit battery system?!?!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Cool idea, but I have to imagine there would be some concerns with all that juice flowing between the vehicle and the trailer?

        Reply
    7. John

      James
      I wonder if Winnebago would consider a hybrid alternative as an interim measure? It would probably cut gas consumption by half and not limit the range. Not sure why that is not a thing withing the RV industry.
      John

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question. I think it has to do with the availability of the hybrid drivetrains for heavier vehicles.
        I’m not aware of any heavy hybrids. Are there any?

        Reply
      2. Gary Rosen

        I agree. I drove a Honda Civic Hybrid for 13 years and loved it. excellent mileage and never the fear of running out of juice.

        Reply
    8. Don Kane

      A year or so ago there was a RV post that said if you would slow down you would get there faster if you drove at 55, because of the time you spend filling your tank. Being from the 55 mph era, I thought that couldn’t be right and made an excel speed sheet to simulate it (using a standard mpg vs speed table). It was completely wrong; no matter how much you save in mpg you will never get there faster by going slower.

      But with the spread sheet in hand, it was a simple matter to extend the stop times to electric charging times. In that case, 50 or 55 mph is about the same as 70.

      To add some numbers, in our Transit we pull 20 to 21 at 55 and 17 to 18 at 70. Driving at 55 extends our range by 10% but we take about 15% longer to get there. Work it out.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Interesting real-world numbers!
        So Nick’s 55 thing is real… but only if you consider the extended recharge times necessary for the electric vehicles.
        Extending that thought – if there was a way to recharge an EV in the same amount of time as a gasoline fill-up – say, by swapping a battery pack – then 70mph becomes viable again.
        Interesting.

        Reply
        1. Don Kane

          Another thing on this topic, looking at the local weather map might advise you when to charge and when to drive. With a 15 mph head wind, 55 becomes 70; with that as a tail wind, 70 becomes 55. As any bicyclist knows, in most of the midwest, wind speeds peak in the afternoon. With the normal wind from the west, it’s a good time to charge if going west; a good time for driving if going east.

        2. James - Post author

          Now we’re really leaning into Nick’s “sailing vs. motorboating” comparison toward the end of the video!

    9. Thomas Adamo

      Great video and a very interesting project. I’d be curious to see how large the 43KW battery packs are and if there’s currently any more room to add more battery capacity. Efficiency and technology are certainly moving fast, but to get to 250-300 REAL WORLD miles, on a vehicle that large, 100KW battery capacity wouldn’t be bad to have.

      On a separate note, I’d love to see a video of how you guys are getting along with the cassette toilet in the Ecko.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We’re getting along just fine with the cassette. I keep tinkering with it though.

        We didn’t get eyes on the battery packs (unless they’re in one of the clips and I just didn’t see them). Would have been good to see, but I’d be willing to bet that the next iteration of an eRV has even more range.

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    10. Denis Rochon

      Wow,James I can read your thoughts, “a step in the right direction, but not there yet…”But we knew that, all eVehicule all have that range (125 to 175 miles) sure slows down your cross country trip. Like it was mentioned in the video, we are looking at 300 mile range. Presently I see this eVehicule as a weekender camper, staying local. Have you asked if they are looking at upgrading the Ekko, you know where I’m going…I would be happy if the Ekko was all inhouse LX on a gas Transit frame. Anyways, I’m glad that Winnebago is exploring the Evanture. Still no trip to Baja with this vehicule.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        300 miles would be a magic number for us. It would get us from Southern Utah to Northern Utah!
        I’m not aware of any immediate plans to electrify the EKKO, but that would be kind of cool.

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    11. Roxanne Lamontagne

      I have a motorhome and a électric car at home. With the Price of gas i don’t understand why we cannot buy one yet.
      With 250miles it will be really Nice . 4 hours drive and 1 hour rest/lunch Time .

      Spend like a 3000$ in gas this summer.
      I don’t mind waiting 1 hours to save Money !

      Reply
    12. Derek Pyner

      Fascinating look at the future. I think av EV powered trailer that can be towed by any vehicle might have universal appeal. Maybe this could be their next project.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’m always kind of ‘motorhome centric’, but yes – it will be fascinating to see how this technology impacts towables.
        (Imagine if your towable recharged with regenerative braking!)

        Reply

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