With the electrification of transport reaching vehicles like a 110-ton Komatsu dumper, it’s difficult to understand why battery-powered motorhomes are not a thing yet. The new VW electric microbus comes close to it, but it lacks the size and functionalities of a motorhome.
Now a new prototype of an actual full-size electric motorhome shows that it’s possible.
Home Solar Power
At the 2017 Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf earlier this month, Germany-based motorhome manufacturer Dethleffs unveiled the e-home, an electric motorhome powered by solar panels and a battery pack.
They based the e-home on the Iveco Daily Electric chassis with a powertrain consisting of a liquid-cooled three-phase 80kW AC motor with a power of 80kW and a 91 kWh battery pack.
The company claims that it enables a range of just over 100 miles and it can support both DC fast-charging and level 2 charging. It’s far from an ideal range for the application, but they claim to extend the range with solar power.
Dethleffs partnered with Victron Energy to install thin high-efficiency solar panels on almost the entire surface of the vehicle. The system produces 3 kW of solar enegy at peak power, according to the company.
Dethleffs Managing Director Alexander Leopold describes the vehicle:
“Dethleffs know this means a lot more then just putting bodywork on an electrically driven chassis. By implementing a fully-electric powertrain there are many challenges and equally opportunities for the entire vehicle. One significant opportunity is to do without any additional type of energy sources for the vehicle. This means that a motorhome with electric drive will also supply all the onboard services with electricity for the living area instead of gas, for example – and that is why solar power production becomes very important. At the same time there are also a number of new technologies which will change the comfort, quality of life, plus the safety of future generations of motorhomes. Through this evolving process, systems will be further developed – and we expect rapid progress over the coming years for our e.home concept.”
The company is reportedly working on making the e-home part of its lineup of RVs, but there’s still no word on price or timeline to production.
The problem with RVs is that they are not aerodynamic, which affect efficiency at highway speed. It takes more energy to go further and this solution with just over 100 miles of range is simply not enough. You want a full day of driving worth of range since those vehicles are used to cover significant distances.
But they also stay parked often and the large non-aerodynamic shape is a good thing for solar energy in those situations. As we have often reported in the past, solar panels on electric vehicles have mostly been a gimmick, but an RV like the e-home has enough surface that it starts to be some significant power with a peak at 3 kW.
You would just need a larger battery pack for 200 or 300 miles of range and it would result in an impressive zero-emission and potentially off-grid motorhome.
What do you think? What’s the ideal range for an electric motorhome? Let us know in the comment section below.