EXCLUSIVE: Winnebago Industries Completes Concept ERV’s Longest Roadtrip

A picture of the Winnebago e-RV with Ashis and other Winnebago employees

Winnebago Industries took its all-electric, zero-emission concept motorhome, or e-RV, on a 1,380-mile road trip from Washington, D.C. to the company headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, after showing off the vehicle at RVIA’s Move America Week.

The Type B e-RV vehicle is based on a Ford Transit chassis that has been modified with an electrical power system from Lightning e Motors.

The concept e-RV was introduced in January at the Florida RV supershow by Winnebago’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG). Before hitting the road, the concept vehicle was updated with minor interior and software refinements, said Ashis Bhattacharya, Winnebago Industries senior vice president, Business Development, Advanced Technology and Enterprise Marketing.

This is the longest continuous road trip conducted with the e-RV, and the first known trip over 1,00A picture of the Winnebago e_RV at a charger in Ohio0 miles by an all-electric RV, Winnebago said.

Various Winnebago ATG team members drove different legs of the odyssey including Jamie Sorenson, director, Advanced Technology, and Nick Davis, program manager, Advanced Technology. Two to three team members staffed the vehicle at a time during the trip.

While the vehicle can range 135 miles without stopping, the team drove an average of 100 miles averaging 53 miles an hour before stopping to charge the vehicle for a little over one hour each time. They drove about 300 miles a day for a 26-hour total over the entire trip.

The team used Google Maps, which shows EV chargers, and an app called A Better Route Planner, which shows EV chargers compatible with specific vehicle types, to plan the charging stops for the trip. The team only had one stop where they ran into a “phantom charger,” or a charger that was marked on a map was not there, Bhattacharya said.

“I know that while people are very concerned about, ‘Will I run out of charge?’ and ‘Will I get stranded?’, I think with a little planning it is very easy to find chargers,” he said.

The team spent $275 to charge the vehicle. Winnebago estimates the team saved about 60% in costs over completing the trip in a similar gasoline-powered vehicle.

The team paused at destinations to show the e-RV to dealers and customers—stops included Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia; Cleveland; Indiana Dunes National Park and Chicago. The trip’s purpose was not to set a speed record, Bhattacharya said, but to show the vehicle to customers dealers and journalists.

“We are actively looking at a process called co-creation. Co-creation is to involve customers and other stakeholders more actively in the design of the vehicle,” Bhattacharya said. “The conversations we want to have with the customer are, we have taken this so far, what do you think? Look at the interior, look at the vehicle capabilities. Let us talk about our vision for the vehicle. What more would you like to see in it? What would you do with the vehicle if we gave it to you today? We want to talk to our dealer partners and ask, what do you think?”

The trip also enabled Winnebago Industries ATG teams to further test and document real-world performance factors and gather additional data that will drive further refinements.

“Winnebago Industries has a rich history and tradition of innovation, and we see electrification as a continually evolving chapter of that legacy,” said Michael Happe, Winnebago Industries president and CEO. “We are proud to be a leader in exploring the possibilities of this technology in the outdoor markets we serve.”

The Winnebago motorhome team plans to produce the first generation of about 15-20 limited edition e-RVs by late 2023. The first e-RV commercial launch is planned for late 2024.

Coming Monday in part two, RV News will delve into other discoveries the team made on the Winnebago All-Electric RV Road Trip as well as specifications and features that make the Winnebago concept e-RV unique.

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