Travel trailers and toy haulers are already electrified, right? After all, trailers utilize campground “shore power” or rely on their onboard batteries (possibly assisted by solar panels) when there are no external electrical sources. Electrical power is very important when it comes to camp systems that can’t run off of propane. Are there any ways to further electrify the tried-and-true traditional travel trailer?
Thor Industries, owner of the Airstream brand, thinks so. Trailers don’t “go” on their own, but that’s about to change with the introduction of the Airstream eStream. Its traditional torpedo-shaped aluminum shell veils Thor’s own high-voltage electric chassis that distinguishes this concept travel trailer from its multitudinous competition. The electric drivetrain powers the wheels, allowing the eStream to proverbially help carry, well, its own load instead of putting the full burden on the tow vehicle. This motorized assistance helps with fuel economy (or range for an electric tow vehicle) and theoretically reduces vehicular wear and tear.
Josef Hjelmaker, Thor’s Chief Innovation Officer, sums up the benefits of the eStream: “The technology we co-developed creates a synchronized relationship between the trailer and the tow vehicle, enabling the trailer to move in harmony with the tow vehicle, reducing the pulling effect required from the tow vehicle. This, in turn, dramatically improves the possible range of the combination. In essence, we’ve turned the trailer into an electric vehicle. The technology is game-changing for our industry and others.”
The Airstream eStream’s electric drivetrain unit was developed in partnership with industry titan ZF. It consists of two offset electric motors that each produce 30 kW of continuous power or a maximum of 90 kW. That’s about 40 hp of continuous power or a max of 121 hp each—and a maximum of 66 lb-ft of torque.
Energy—about 30 times more than the largest lithium battery system of today’s Airstreams—is stored in two high voltage automotive-grade battery modules that provide 80 kWh of power for the eStream’s drivetrain and amenities. Thor claims there’s enough battery power to survive comfortably without hookups for up to two weeks.
The eStream can be charged at most EV charging stations, and there’s a separate 30A input for RV campground hookups. (It’ll be interesting to see how campgrounds handle charging of electric RVs and trailers in the future, as this would be in addition to traditional shore power usage.) A 900-watt solar power system consisting of five Merlin 180-watt semi-flexible panels mounted on the roof of the eStream also helps with power production.
There’s another perk to the electric drivetrain, and it’s one that’ll come as pleasant relief to pilots who dread the whole backing-in process: remote-control parking. It’s called Move mode, and it allows the eStream to remotely park itself independently of a tow vehicle or trailer mover. Using its driving wheels and ultrasonic sensors to protect the trailer’s precious body panels, the eStream can be guided into a parking spot precisely, preserving family unity.
The Airstream eStream touts sophistication beyond its drivetrain. Voice control, intuitive touchscreens, and 5G connectivity aided by a snazzy signal booster pay homage to the digital age we’re in. For added safety, crosswind and cornering sway are mitigated by a Trailer Mobility Control unit.
Since it’s still in concept form, the Airstream eStream has no price tag and is not for sale, but we bet Airstream would find buyers for this idea amongst its high-end clientele.
Source: Read Full Article