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Thor and Winnebago reveal all-electric concepts

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The US parent company of the Erwin Hymer Group (EHG), Thor Industries, has revealed two all-electric concept leisure vehicles – one motorhome and one caravan. In addition, American RV manufacturer, Winnebago, has also shown its all-electric motorhome

While the models are still at concept stage, they highlight the path Thor, the world’s largest motorhome manufacturing group, and Winnebago are taking.

Thor is developing its own all-electric models in partnership with a specialist chassis developer rather than relying on the likes of Fiat or Ford to develop and launch an electric base vehicle for it to convert.

Concepts are generally revealed to gauge the public’s reaction and to make a statement of technologies future production models will feature. While some aspects of these concepts will not make it into production vehicles, it is clear both manufacturers are committed to producing all-electric models and, with Thor’s many European companies, we can expect this technology to be used on this side of the Atlantic, too.

Bob Martin, Thor's Chief Executive Officer, says,

 

We've been focused on an electrification eMobility strategy for a number of years and have made substantial progress on our journey. Early on, we determined that success for us would not be to simply put our name on the side of an electric chassis built by a third-party electric chassis manufacturer.

Instead, as the industry leader, we harnessed emerging technology and codeveloped flexible, scalable and customisable platforms on which our family of companies will build distinct products, providing a best-in-class RV user experience.


The Thor Vision Vehicle 

Thor Vision Vehicle

(Photo courtesy of Thor)

The motorhome concept, the Thor Vision Vehicle (TVV), is built on an Ford chassis codeveloped with Roush, a US-based engineering specialist.

The TVV motorhome includes a number of unique elements designed to maximise chassis performance. It features range-extending technologies, including integrated fuel cell components, to provide a range of up to 300 miles, which Thor says is well within the average non-stop travel distance of most users.

Todd Woelfer, Thor's Chief Operating Officer, explains,

 

Our team has conducted a massive amount of research targeted at understanding the impact of design elements on extending range, including aerodynamics of the units. Our strategy to create a unique electric experience specifically tailored for RV [motorhome] users has identified a number of product enhancement opportunities that we can and will implement well before we industrialise the electrified units.

Todd added that the two concept units are only the first from its defined electric RV strategy:

 

Our command of the technologies around the electrified RV experience demonstrates Thor's commitment to innovation is an essential part of our growth model and future success which positions us to maintain our global leadership position in the industry. Our electric RV concepts provide a glimpse of the incredible propriety technology we have developed.

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The eStream

Thor eStream

(Photo courtesy of Thor)

The second electric leisure vehicle concept it revealed was the eStream, which is based on the iconic Airstream caravan but built on Thor's exclusive high-voltage electric chassis. It was created in partnership with ZF, Thor and the Erwin Hymer Group, with the goal to include technology specifically to extend the range of towing for electric vehicles.


Winnebago’s all-electric concept

all-electric concept

(Photo courtesy of Winnebago)

Meanwhile, Winnebago’s all-electric concept, the e-RV, was developed by Winnebago Industries’ Advanced Technology Group.

The concept has a range of appliances, all of which have been designed to optimise energy use and battery performance. These include a 350V DC power supply for the water heater and roof-mounted air-conditioner with heat pump, while it uses a 110V AC supply for the induction hob and refrigerator, which can also operate on 12V DC.

The concept motorhome currently only has a range of 125 miles while powering on-board systems from its 86kW/h battery configuration. It can be recharged in around 45 minutes at high-current charging stations.

It includes high-performance wireless connectivity through a WiFi network using a dual-modem router that enables high data streaming levels. The kitchen has a marine-grade refrigerator, a slide-out induction hob and matt black sink fixtures.

The concept, which is based on a modified Ford Transit chassis with an electrical power system from Lightning eMotors, also makes use of eco-friendly and sustainable materials, including recycled cork-rubber flooring and woollen wall insulation.


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