electric-motorhomes-rv-campers

The bright future of Electric Motorhomes and Campervans

It is no longer in doubt that electric motorized vehicles are the future. Plus, the constant increase in fuel and gas prices is making traditional cars less desirable. 

This technology has the potential to make the way you choose to travel greener, especially as it produces zero emissions. However, it might take a few years before they become a common sight on our roads.

Like the battery-powered counterparts of cars, bikes, and motorcycles, more motorhomes will be electrified as we move away from fossil fuels, and that’s despite the many challenges that come with electric RVs, one of which includes: making significant changes to existing electronic architectures so you can accommodate the huge batteries required to power vehicles. 

So we can say that while the electric motorhome model may take a little longer to come to market than electric campervans and other vehicles, the transition away from diesel engines is inevitable in the future. 

The Case for Electric Motorhomes and Campervans

The main claims of electric vehicles are clear. This is considering that being greener than internal combustion engines; they are an important tool in the fight against climate change.

Electric vehicles produce zero emissions while driving, improve air quality, and significantly reduce emissions over their lifetime, even when manufacturing and power generation are taken into account.

Of course, zero-emission driving is especially beneficial for vehicles that travel long distances, such as RVs and campers.

Electric motorhomes and campervans will therefore be a big draw for those who want to vacation or live more sustainably. This is especially when you consider that the option also causes little noise pollution, allowing people and wildlife around you to enjoy a more peaceful environment. Plus, since conventional fuel is not used, running costs can be greatly reduced. 

Real-world data on this subject is limited, but one would expect lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts that could fail or wear out. All-electric vehicles are now also exempt from road tax, further reducing annual spending.

Constraints and Advantages of Electric Motorhomes and Campervans 

Need to Resize 

Sadly, a potential constraint to the popularity of electric campers is the size of parking spaces at most public charging stations. These stations are usually located at Multi-storey shopping complexes and parking garages where the height of the RV makes access impossible.

Compact electric campervans are more likely to have access to charging stations than larger campers. This is why, width, height, and length are likely factors driving the trend toward compact electric campervans rather than large battery-powered campers. 

Cab-Chassis Versions 

Electric campers have another advantage over motorhomes which allows the usual semi-integrated hybrid chassis, in which the lightweight Al-Ko alloy chassis, rear suspension, and rear axle are coupled to the front suspension.

However, completely reconfiguring an electric van for a low-profile RV conversion using a regular Al-Ko aftermarket chassis would require significant changes to the existing electronic architecture and battery placement. These issues can prove to be exorbitant.

Driving Range

Considering the World Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) data for the long-wheelbase, high-roof E-Ducato van, the data below will most likely be fitted to an electric camper:

  • The 43 kWh batteries consume 31.6 kWh per 100 km in city and highway use at the same time, giving a range of 164 km.
  •  The 79 kWh batteries extend the range to 269 km, both in the city and on the highway. The additional battery module mass results in an energy consumption of 33.8 kWh per 100 km.

Taking into account the majority of RV conversions, we expect these range claims to drop by about 15-20%.

Sulfur in the Air

There is currently a lot of talk surrounding sulfur batteries being developed by the German company Theion (Greek for sulfur).

These batteries are said to have three times the energy density of LFP batteries and are significantly cheaper to manufacture as sulfur is the 10th most common material in the world.

Then says it will be ready for production by 2024. This immediately removes many of the restrictions currently associated with electric RVs. If Theion succeeds in making a battery breakthrough, it will be able to drive an electric camper with less consumption.

Infrastructure Boost

As more electric vehicles hit the roads, more infrastructures are installed to meet the growing demand for easily accessible public charging stations.

As EV growth expands into the RV sector, RV camps, and holiday parks will be encouraged to include charging as part of their services.

In contrast, as the shift to electric vehicles accelerates and includes heavy-duty vehicles, opportunities for diesel fuel may decline. Heavy traffic is expected to switch from onboard fuel cells to hydrogen-generated electricity.

Platforms such as the E-Transit and E-Ducato have numerous batteries located under the floor of the vehicle, most extending to the rear axle.

Battery Option

Some of the big four light commercial vehicle manufacturers in Europe, and the LDV, offer different sizes of batteries for their electric vans.

LDVs can be equipped with 51.5kWh, 72kWh, or 88kWh battery arrays. Fiat, Volkswagen, and Mercedes are following suit to offer multiple battery options to electric van buyers.

This allows buyers to choose the smallest battery size when preferring faster charging times and larger payloads for daily urban deliveries.

Alternatively, a larger energy storage device may be selected to achieve the desired extended range for an electric camper.

Better Batteries Lead to Better Infrastructure

LFP batteries represent the current gold standard for electric vehicles for the following reasons:

  • Cheap to build
  • More durable
  • Less toxic than lithium-ion batteries

It also does not contain nickel and cobalt, relatively rare minerals that generate large amounts of CO2 during extraction and distribution. 

Barriers to Electric Motorhome and Campervan Adoption

Various issues currently limit its widespread adoption, including several key issues inherent in this market.

The first is payload weight. Electric motors weigh less than internal combustion engines, but the large electric batteries needed for the range now weigh at least as much or more. A Class B license allows you to drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg, so camper drivers risk being fined for exceeding the limit.

Unless you apply for a C class license which is not for everyone, the next problem to solve is range.

Battery technology and charging infrastructure continue to improve, but electric vehicles are often better suited for short urban journeys.

This is a problem when traveling domestically or internationally in a fully loaded RV or camper. Few campsites have the infrastructure to fully charge your batteries as soon as you arrive at your destination. 

A third barrier is acquisition cost. Given that traditional motorhomes and campervans are already expensive, adding an electric battery will add thousands of pounds to the selling price, but the plug-in grant scheme saves some money. Remember, in the long run, your running costs will also be lower.

These issues mean that your options on the open market are limited, at least for now.

Conclusion 

Electric motorhomes and campervans might still be in development, but a bright future looms over them. 

As an experienced motorhome specialist, Elite RV takes considerable pride in delivering high-quality new and used motorhomes for sale to customers on the Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne. As the exclusive distributor of Auto-Trail motorhomes in Australia, our dealerships proudly stock the latest model Auto-Trail motorhome vehicles.

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