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Monday, May 29, 2023

First drive (and sleepover) within the all-electric Winnebago eRV2

Because it was first unveiled this previous January, Winnebago’s all-electric eRV2 prototype has been on my radar as an EV I’d like to expertise firsthand, particularly since lots of my loaners are centered solely on driving, and this electrical RV provides a lot extra. Winnebago gave me the possibility to take the eRV2 for a spin, and I spent the evening in it down in San Diego. Try my ideas and video overview beneath.

The eRV2 is Winnebago’s first all-electric prototype

Whereas Winnebago has a nicely established historical past in leisure autos by which its personal identify has change into synonymous with the phase, its journey into electrical autos stays nascent.

Throughout the 2022 Florida RV SuperShow, Winnebago unveiled the eRV – an all-electric RV idea that kicked off the corporate’s second enterprise into zero-emissions journey after a much less profitable try at an EV platform again in 2018.

The idea was constructed atop the ever-popular Ford Transit platform, upfitted by a well-known identify in Lightning eMotors. The corporate utilized the car’s physique, chassis, and suspension, then outfitted it with an 86 kWh battery that was anticipated to ship 125 miles of vary and a cost time of 45 minutes on a DC quick charger.

A yr later, Winnebago hit the Tampa RV present but once more with an all-electric encore referred to as the eRV2. Opposite to the unique idea, the eRV2 is a part of a fleet of working prototypes constructed by Winnebago for testing and improvement, whereas the leisure specialist works towards delivering a commercialized electrical RV to its clients sooner or later.

After months of talks, I used to be lucky sufficient for the chance to expertise the Winnebago eRV2 down in San Diego and spent the evening at a tremendous RV resort referred to as Solar Outdoor.

Efficiency specs and first drive in an electrical Winnebago

After I first arrived at Solar Outdoor, I used to be greeted by the Winnebago crew, who had a number of RV spots secured, house to a number of eRV2 vans for testing and media functions. As somebody new to the RV life, I used to be very desperate to be taught precisely how this electrical van conversion operated on and off the grid and the way that compares to conventional RVs.

Sustainability, modularity, and superior expertise have been three key pillars the crew and Winnebago expressed to me throughout my preliminary walkthrough, and people elements have been recognizable all through the EV, whilst a prototype.

As we initially identified throughout the January reveal of the eRV2, the marketed vary of this electrical prototype leaves a lot to be desired. Since Winnebago builds the electrical prototypes from Ford’s 2022 E-Transit, it’s actually at Ford’s mercy at the kind of charging speeds and vary it might ship, particularly when you think about that Winnebago is pushing the EV’s GVWR to the max to be able to supply as a lot operate and luxury for prolonged durations in these vans.

The printed vary of the eRV2 is a mere 108 miles, not supreme for highway journeys, however I used to be instructed by the crew that savvy EV fanatics driving conservatively in “Eco Mode” can get nearer to 130 miles of vary beneath supreme driving circumstances.

Whereas most of my time within the eRV2 was on the RV resort exploring this electrical prototype inside and outside, I did take it for an honest spin round Chula Vista to see the way it drove. For my part, it drives like a industrial van, not precisely constructed for passenger consolation. This was particularly noticeable within the suspension when going over any bumps.

That being mentioned, this Class 2 RV was very simple to get used to, and I usually drive a hatchback. I instantly felt comfy and assured behind the wheel, and the RV had a tremendous rear view digicam and chook’s eye sensors to help me in parking and safely backing up in small parking tons. Parking goes to take some follow as a result of even after I felt like I had pulled up sufficient, I nonetheless regarded like an a-hole taking over an excessive amount of area.

For its top, the eRV2 feels moderately sturdy and balanced on the highway, even at increased speeds on the 5 freeway. Even in Eco Mode, I used to be in a position to rapidly get the electrical Winnebago up to the mark and safely merge utilizing the facet mirrors. It doesn’t precisely have “oomph” when accelerating, however you’re hauling a lot weight that it’s most likely for the very best. If the vary might be improved, this might simply make for a beautiful roadtripping EV – a clean freeway experience for certain.

To energy the elements inside the electrical prototype, Winnebago partnered with Lithionics Battery to create a proprietary “IonBlade” lithium home battery that encompasses a 48V system able to over 15,000 usable watt-hours.

This method is exclusive in that it operates individually from the EV’s battery pack for driving however may also be recharged from its personal J1772 plug on the facet of the van utilizing a cable from Ford Professional.

For those who’re ever in a bind on the highway, you possibly can really recharge the RVs propulsion battery utilizing the home energy. It’ll take perpetually, however it might definitely get you a number of miles of vary to achieve the closest charging station.

Electric Winnebago
The entrance port, which prices the electrical car’s battery

The RV’s entrance port additionally has a CCS plug for DC quick charging capabilities and may replenish from 10-80% in beneath 40 minutes.

Winnebago’s new deal with sustainability extends exterior of the electrical prototype as nicely. As you possibly can see above, the eRV2’s roof is supplied with photo voltaic panels that present as much as 500 watts of energy alone, 900 watts whole in the event you join a separate, transportable photo voltaic panel to a boondocking port within the rear.

The panels generate free vitality from the Solar transformed into home energy, which incorporates a formidable variety of USB-C plugs, 110V retailers, and customizable LED cabin lights. Try the inside beneath.

“Japandi” design, modular inside areas, and bedtime

As I discussed in my video walkthrough you possibly can view beneath, Winnebago’s design crew created the inside of the electrical eRV2 utilizing a “Japandi” strategy – a mix of Japanese and Scandinavian design philosophies.

The result’s a clear, calm, and modular inside that optimizes accessible area in intelligent methods. As an example, the rear provides a five-in-one sleep/lounge that may be tailored from seats with security belts to a rear sofa, single mattress, or foldable full mattress (demonstrated beneath).

That space may also be transformed right into a eating/work space utilizing a modular desk, which is complemented by a separate workspace within the entrance. The cockpit seats rotate 180-degrees to create a extra lounge-like, social setting, or supply chairs for the folding desk (seen above). The spinning seats have been a pleasant contact, however I had bother getting all of them the way in which round with out having to open up the motive force and passenger doorways.

The cabin and its varied workspaces are loaded with accessible built-in cost factors included one wi-fi charging pad close to the desk. The production-level electrical Winnebago will supply a high-speed Wi-Fi router as nicely. It was current on the eRV2, however Winnebago is presently utilizing it for information testing so I wasn’t given entry.

electric Winnebago
The eRV2’s management panel and Winnebago Join app / Credit score: Winnebago

You’ll be able to watch me fumble round making an attempt to arrange the desk and put together the rear for mattress in my video, however I do need to level out the general management system of the electrical eRV2 and the success I had with the Winnebago Join app.

Whereas there have been a pair bugs to be sorted out within the general management system software program, it’s nothing I wasn’t made conscious of by Winnebago throughout my preliminary walkthrough. It is a prototype in spite of everything. Normally, I discovered the management system extraordinarily useful and simple to make use of. I used to be rapidly in a position to open or shut the roof hatch and management the course of the fan to chill down the cabin, monitor the general local weather and management A/C as wanted, and hold an in depth eye on our contemporary and grey water ranges.

Winnebago set me up with their new Join app as nicely, which enabled me to observe and management lots of the identical features, which was nice after I was exterior the electrical RV by the bonfire or mendacity within the rear mattress.

The inside is loaded with LED lights grouped into particular areas, whether or not it’s the rear, galley, entrance, or walkways. I had a lot enjoyable altering the lights of every part to numerous colours, creating an attractive neon glow to passersby on the resort. A number of conventional RV house owners curiously walked up and commenced asking questions. One couple was so daring as to only stroll proper into the eRV2 and go searching with out my permission. It was all good, although – I’m all the time glad to allow nosy individuals if it means probably changing them to go all-electric.

When bedtime got here, I discovered the setup fairly easy, though dressing a mattress in such a decent area was somewhat robust. However I managed, and I ended up with a comfortable area to relaxation after a busy day of capturing footage adopted by hours of discussions in regards to the thrilling way forward for electrification with the Winnebago crew across the hearth.

The mattress itself was comfy, and I might absolutely lengthen my legs, however I nonetheless discovered it a bit cramped. I’m 5′ 11″, so I’d think about anybody over 6 ft goes to wrestle stretching out, particularly if they’ve somebody subsequent to them. I awakened somewhat heat within the morning however was in a position to simply alter the cabin temperature utilizing my Join app, with my telephone linked to a conveniently positioned USB-C charger above my head. Cherished that.

Closing ideas and a video walkthrough

All in all, this was a tremendous expertise in an electrical Winnebago prototype I gained’t quickly neglect. The Winnebago crew was on web site at Solar Outdoor to reply any and all my questions and have been past hospitable.

Throughout this prototype pilot program, the Winnebago crew has already gathered tons of suggestions from real-time information and observations from RVers, influencers, and journalists like myself. Winnebago understands this primary real crack at an electrical RV will not be good, however that’s what prototypes are for. I believe the corporate is off the one helluva begin, and I’m excited to see what enhancements the commercialized mannequin will ultimately convey.

To me, the largest hurdle wanting ahead is vary. Winnebago can spin that narrative nevertheless it likes, however 108 miles goes to fall flat with most customers, particularly these presently driving a combustion van conversion. To actually push EV adoption on this phase, that max vary might want to a minimum of be doubled – and that’s on Ford, not Winnebago.

The American automaker lately introduced a brand new T3 electrical truck that can be constructed at its new $5.6 billion BlueOval Metropolis EV mega-campus. With incoming upgrades to the ultra-popular Ford F-150 Lightning in addition to tons of analysis and funding into superior battery applied sciences, I’ve no purpose to imagine Ford gained’t be delivering an upgraded model of the E-Transit with a extra highly effective and energy-dense platform.

When that optimized car inevitably does arrive, Winnebago ought to have the ability to capitalize and ship an electrical RV much like the eRV2, however even higher from each a design operate and efficiency standpoint. In attending to know among the crew engaged on delivering a customer-grade, Class B electrical Winnebago, I’ve little doubt that they’ll ship one thing clients will love.

When that does occur, I’ve already secured my spot for one more take a look at drive – this time can be for a number of days on the open highway. Till then, try my video walkthrough with the all-electric Winnebago eRV2 beneath.

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