Rivian R1T EV Truck

How EV Trucks Will Affect the RV World

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One of the popular conversations you’ll hear around the campfire will start with the question, “So whatcha got under the hood?” Your new RV park friends will talk about the number of cylinders in the engine, dual-over-head-cams (DOHC), horsepower, torque, and boast how their GMC Sierra can rip a house from its foundation.

In the next few years, that conversation is going to change. Of course, you’ll still hear about horsepower and torque. But as all-electric trucks become more popular among the RV community, the number of motors, driving distance on a single charge, and kilowatt efficiency will be the new bragging topics as Americans develop the electric vehicle (EV) lexicon.

By the end of 2021, EV trucks will hit the American roadways, joining their car counterparts. Many of these trucks can tow and haul, affecting the RV industry. The real questions are: how much can they tow, how far can they tow, and what steps are the RV companies taking to adapt to this new technology? 

Join us as we explore what the major auto manufactures and next-generation competitors are cooking up. In addition, you’ll learn about what camping subsector the brands are targeting for their EV truck creations. Finally, we’ll show you who was the first to create a Class E motorhome, what plans are in development, and if the RV world is actually ready for all-electric pickup trucks.

Are EV Trucks Good For Towing?

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning hauling an Airstream
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning hauling an Airstream from Ford

The range of EV trucks falls anywhere between 200-500 miles per charge. To give you perspective, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives close to 13,500 miles a year. When you break that down to a weekly number, the result is around 260 miles per week. That number is the average daily life driving.

As an RVer, if you were to use the 2-2-2 rule (drive 2 hours between breaks, travel 200 miles a day, rest for 2 nights), you’re essentially driving the average weekly mileage per day. That can be a big problem since the added weight of your RV on your EV truck decreases your driving range. When Car and Driver tested the Ford electric truck’s towing capacity, they found that towing at maximum levels reduces the driving distance up to 50%.

Half of the EV truck’s max tow capacity is the best way to tow. It’ll decrease the driving range by 25% but still give you enough muscle to pull a decent-sized travel trailer. Even with this ideal balance, using the best trip planner, like RV Trip Wizard, will help you locate rapid charger stations along your route. 

For example, suppose your EV pickup truck has an expected driving range of 300 miles and a 10,000-pound maximum towing capacity. If you tow an RV that’s 5,000-pounds, like the Grand Design Xplor 187MK, you’ll retain a 225-mile range. 

Yet, hitching up the Airstream Classic 30RB with a 10,000 pound GVWR will reduce your EV truck range to 150-miles, if you don’t destroy the vehicle from overstressing. 

How do Electric Motors Work in EV Trucks & Cars?

If you open up the owner’s manual of many electric vehicles, you’ll find that the section that discusses how the brushless electric motors work is thin. Combustion engines have been around long enough to become a part of our language. A car hobbyist could walk into a room with one of Detroit’s Big 3 engineers and talk about car parts and performance. 

Currently, electric motor technology is starting to disseminate beyond physicists and engineers. The video above explains it well, but we’ll give you a simple explanation.

  1. Imagine a 5-bladed windmill with the blades wrapped with copper wire. The blades stay stationary.
  1. An inch outside of the blades is a rotating circle, where half of it has a North magnet polarization, and the other half has a South polarization. Builders cut spaces between them to keep the magnets separated, making it look like two arcs instead of a complete circle.
  1. The windmill blades get powered on and off like flipping a light switch. When powered up, the blade has a magnetic polarization that draws the circle’s magnet to it. Once it passes, the switch powers down, and the next windmill blade receives power.

There’s more to the process, but the goal is to keep the circle spinning. The kinetic energy the circle makes transfers to the wheel(s) and various components in the vehicle. There’s a “sweet spot” rotation speed that balances optimum power output. The vehicle’s central computer uses sensors to control the spinning circle’s rate and the powering of the windmill blades. There are variations, but these are the essential principles of a brushless DC power electric motor.

Who First Invented the Electric Motor?

Nikola Tesla was the first to invent the electric motor in 1873. Erroneously monikered “The Mad Russian”, his work with electricity established alternating current (AC) and other technologies. 

Tesla was one of those geniuses that were ahead of his time and thought about the long-term. Unfortunately, he often spoke at a high academic level at times, leaving potential investors confused and becoming disinterested. In a society that was looking for solutions now, he would have to resort to digging ditches to support his genuine work. 

Germans Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Nicolaus Otto (hence otto-mobile/automobile) separately had working horseless carriage automobiles with combustion engines on the roads. Thomas Edison had DC power electricity working reliably and knew how to speak to keep his audience’s attention. 

For over 100 years, you could find Nikola Tesla’s electric motor in appliances, toys, and some industrial applications. Auto manufacturers made a few attempts in the Cold War Era designing electric cars for concept purposes. However, the Toyota Prius Hybrid showed the world that electric motors in vehicles could work. 

What Detroit’s Big 3 and Other Industry Leaders Are Cooking Up

There’s a lot of buzz going around in the news and blog-verse about how auto manufactures are approaching the electric vehicle sector. We’ll start with the current big names and give you an idea of how their EV truck will perform towing your fifth wheel, travel trailer, or truck camper.

Chrysler/Dodge: All-Electric Ram 1500

The Ram Brand won’t be the first out of the gate to offer EV trucks. Instead, Mike Koval, CEO of Ram, announced that the Ram 1500 BEV will start production in 2024. The majority of their vehicles, including the ProMaster, will have EV capabilities by 2025, and the brand will be fully electric by 2030.

Ram wants to release the 1500 electric pickup with a 500-mile range, a 159-200 kWh battery pack, and one of the quickest charging times available. Their goal is to wait until the technology develops enough. Once there, then they want to dominate the market with proven technology. You’ll find that this has been Chrysler’s methodology in many cases. No other specs are available.

Ford: F-150 Lightning

  • Number of Motors: Dual
  • Towing Capacity: 10,000 lbs.
  • Horsepower & Torque: 563 hp @ 773 lb./ ft.
  • Drive System: 4 x 4/ AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 230-300+ miles

The Ford F-150 Lightning is looking to be the best contender for RV towing by the end of 2021. Ford’s engineers designed the EV truck to perform on par with its gas-powered siblings. The 220v outlet in the bed turns your vehicle into your RV’s boondocking generator. You’ll also find several computer-assisted features fulfilling those towing burden wishes, including:

  1. Pro trailer hitch assist
  2. Onboard scales
  3. Smart hitch
  4. Pro trailer backup assist
  5. Trailer reverse guidance

If you’re friends ask you how you backed into your campsite perfectly,  go ahead and tell them you’re just that good. We got your back. Also, keep your eyes open for the optional solar panel and inverter Ford’s developing with Sunrun. 

GM/Chevy: Hummer EV & Chevy Silverado 

  • Number of Motors: Dual or Triple
  • Towing Capacity: 7,500-11,000 lbs.
  • Horsepower & Torque: 1,000 @ 11,500 lb./ ft.
  • Drive System: 4 x 4/ AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 350+ miles

You’ll find the reservation list complete for the Hummer EV’s first edition coming out in Fall 2021, but there’s still space for the Fall 2022 Edition. The crab-walk and extract mode features make this $80,000-$100,000 EV truck ideal for the most challenging terrains on the planet. Towing an off-road travel trailer with you to act as a mobile HQ will make your expedition complete.

GM announced the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is next on the EV truck on the menu if you’re looking for something with a more budget-friendly price tag. Chevy hasn’t released the specs, but it will be competitively priced and should give Ford’s Lightning an electrifying fight. GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan plant will produce the 400-mile driving range EV truck.

Nissan/Hercules: Alpha Partnership Possibilities

According to a Bloomberg article in November of 2020, Nissan was in talks with start-up Hercules for their EV platform. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Nissan would adapt their Titan truck to the Hercules technology. The details of this discussion remain behind closed doors, but there’s a lot of speculation floating around the web.

Hercules published a photo of the Nissan Titan adding their front and back end through digital remastering. The above video shows viewers an acceleration and brake test performed on the Hercules Platform. We’ll have to keep our eyes open on both manufactures for further confirmed information.

Tesla Motors: Cybertruck

  • Number of Motors: Single/ Dual/ Triple
  • Towing Capacity: 7,500- 14,000 lbs.
  • Horsepower & Torque: 690 hp @ 824 lb./ ft.
  • Drive System: RWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 250+ miles

One of the first companies to produce all-electric vehicles was Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. The Cybertruck breaks the mold of what a pickup truck should look like and how it should perform. The tonneau cap and gate have power extension features, allowing owners to load up their ATV and cover the bed, respectively. 

The biggest issue with the Cybertruck is standard towing and hauling. The high cargo bed sidewalls and rear chassis make traditional towing difficult. Like the 1930 Curtiss Aerocar Land Yacht, the Cybertruck will use a unique hitch for RVs designed for the truck. Currently, the non-cabover expandable Cyberlandr truck camper has filled multiple reservation lists.

New Generation Competition

As we researched the EV truck market, we found it similar to the teardrop camper market. The EV sector is open to all who dare. Many independent brands use ideas different from mainstream corporate brands; they’re opening new subsectors in the EV truck market the big guys will have to catch up to once these independents hit the streets.

Alpha Motors Wolf Series and Heimplanet

  • Number of Motors: Single or Dual
  • Towing Capacity: 3,000 – 6,724 lbs.
  • Horsepower & Torque: Unknown
  • Drive System: RWD or AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 250-300+ miles

The Alpha Motors Wolf, Wolf+, and Superwolf fall into the quarter-ton level. The Wolf+ and Superwolf adds a second row in the cab and has an additional 3,724 pounds of pulling power. Each version comes with a Baja-style roof and grill lights, a roof rack, and scratch plates for protection underneath. These trucks would suffer the maximum towing capacity battery reduction issue, but lightweight teardrops would ease that.

To avoid the battery strain issue, Alpha partnered with Heimplanet, making sturdy, tear-resistant tents that connect to the truck’s bed. The Cloudbreak Dome or the smaller triangular tent uses the truck’s bed in the interior. You can use the cargo bed as a sleeping space and access the electric outlets for your various camping essential accessories.

Atlis XT 

  • Number of Motors: Quad
  • Towing Capacity: 6,000-17,000 TT/ 20,000-35,000 5th wheel
  • Horsepower & Torque: Unknown
  • Drive System: AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 300-500+ miles

Do you have a full-profile fifth wheel or a flatbed truck camper? What about a full-length travel trailer? The Atlis XT is a heavy-duty EV truck that offers a multi-storage bay service bed, flatbed, or dually option. The company’s not kidding when they say their truck will have a fifth wheel maximum tow capacity of 35,000 pounds and a standard towing max of 17,000 pounds.

For those of you that love your drivable RVs, don’t feel left out. If your motorhome can tow a 350/3500 series truck, you can easily toad the Atlis XT because it’s a flat towable vehicle. In addition, many of the big-name full-profile fifth wheels have a gross vehicle weight rating of between 12,000-18,000 pounds, so with this all-electric pickup truck, you can keep to the half max tow capacity rule comfortably.

Bollinger B2

  • Number of Motors: Dual
  • Towing Capacity: 7,500 lbs./ 5,001 lbs. payload
  • Horsepower & Torque: 614 @ 668 lb./ ft.
  • Drive System: AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 200+ miles

Based in one of Detroit, Michigan’s post-World War II suburbs, Bollinger Motors is breathing new life into Oak Park. The B2 electric pickup gives drivers clean lines and off-road performance like no other. So if you prefer, go ahead and leave the doors at that travel trailer under 3,500 pounds to gain the whole off-road expedition experience. 

The payload capacity is 5,001 pounds in the 6-foot bed, with a 4-foot width. Shortbed truck campers should fit well. The bed is 6 inches shy of a standard bed, so we recommend avoiding anything longer. If you want something light that won’t be much of a strain on the battery, consider the Palomino Rogue with a dry weight of under 1,500 pounds.

Canoo Pickup

  • Number of Motors: Single or Dual
  • Towing Capacity: Unknown/ 1,800 payload
  • Horsepower & Torque: 600 hp @ 500 lb./ ft.
  • Drive System: AWD or RWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 200+ miles

The Canoo EV truck is another quarter ton with a unique design. With a small payload capacity of 1,800 pounds, even though they haven’t released the towing capacity, we’re not expecting anything more than a teardrop, pop-up, or small travel trailer under 3,000 pounds. However, we know that Canoo and partner vendors are designing camping caps that’ll fit into the cargo bed.

Canoo went through some problems in May and June of 2021, which required a leadership change. The new CEO, Tony Aquila, responded to these issues in an interview with CNBC, saying that the company has reset its goals to realistic levels. He stated, “…nobody did anything wrong, they were just euphorically excited.” 

Rivian R1T

  • Number of Motors: Quad
  • Towing Capacity: 11,000
  • Horsepower & Torque: 800 hp @ 900 lb./ft.
  • Drive System: AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 300-400+ miles

How many trucks on the road today directly enhance your RV or tailgate experience? The Rivian R1T’s optional outdoor kitchen has turned this EV truck into a highly anticipated competitor. The vehicle itself targets those who enjoy outdoor activities like biking, kayaking, hiking, and others. There’s also an optional tent that sets up on a tonneau cover.

The towing capacity makes the truck ideal for small off-road travel trailers. The KZ Escape E20 Hatch has a 4,400 GVWR. You can store all of your equipment in the rear of the RV through the full-size rear hatch. If you’re dry camping, you can plug in the essentials using the two 120v outlets in the cargo bed and prepare your favorite meal in the truck’s outdoor kitchen that pulls out from the gear tunnel.

Lordstown Endurance

  • Number of Motors: Quad
  • Towing Capacity: 7,500 lbs.
  • Horsepower & Torque: 600 hp @800 lb./ft.
  • Drive System: AWD
  • Single Charge Distance: 300-350 miles

The Lordstown Endurance is another highly anticipated electric pickup truck full of controversy. The company has dealt with technology setbacks, funding, the SEC, and a leadership change. Currently, the Department of Justice is investigating the company on matters of spending and pre-order reporting

Lordstown Motors designed the Endurance to be a versatile multi-purpose truck. The goal was to create an EV truck with the least amount of moving parts so that fewer components could break. The vision was to see grandfathers using the EV pickup 50 years from now, still using it for their daily work, camping, or other needs like those 1970s or 1980s Ford and Chevy pickups still on the road today. Once production starts, you’ll be able to buy one (after the reservation list orders) exclusively at Camping World dealerships.

Nikola Badger, Electric Semis, and Class A Predictions

The Badger was going to be a quarter-ton EV truck that would be fun both on and off-road. Once GM decided to reallocate its $2 billion investment in December 2020, the Badger died. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nikola’s primary business goal focuses on all-electric semi-trucks. Those of you who are fans of Class A motorhomes may like this part.

Nikola recently purchased a manufacturing plant in Indiana to work on “green hydrogen.” The plan is to separate hydrogen from commercial waste products to generate electricity chemically. Once the process works, they plan on building similar plants around the country where electric semi-trucks can fuel up, using the separated hydrogen to produce the electricity the trucks need to “Move America.”

A possible option for future Class A motorhomes could include these engines. The biggest problem with the current electric motors boils down to moving the Class A RVs and power them. So far, they can’t do both. We predict that RV manufacturers will adapt whatever engine technology electric tractor-trailers use, will power Class A motorhomes.

RV Industry’s Plans to Adapt to EV Tow Vehicles

Since we’re talking about predictions and plans, we can now show you what the RV industry is talking about to aid electric trucks with increasing their driving distance. We’ll also discuss what some companies are planning to do in the future and introduce you to the first Class E motorhome.

Second Battery Bay

The biggest problem for the RV community is going to be driving distance. A 5-10 minute gas refill (which usually turns into 30 minutes when the family runs inside to use the facilities, grabs snacky cakes, and gets nostalgic playing four rounds on a 1980s arcade game) isn’t too much of a time delay. However, spending an hour to 90 minutes at a rapid recharge station every 100-200 miles could add travel day(s) to your plans.

The RV industry isn’t using The Vintage Era (1945-1970) mentality anymore. RV company leadership can’t wait for the automakers to figure it out and adapt to the results. They realized early on that if the RV industry doesn’t take a proactive approach to adapt to electric vehicle technology, ultimately, it could affect the future of the brand. RV manufacturers learned how intertwined they are with the auto industry the hard way at the beginning of The Classic Era (1971-1989) during the Oil Crisis of 1973.

Adding a second battery bay to the towable categories is one of the popular ideas floating around the RV industry. The primary bay will still support the electrical needs of the coach itself. The second bay will feed the EV truck through the electrical umbilical cord that generally powers the brakes and DOT lights. 

Another added benefit is that this secondary power source can take advantage of the solar panel technology on the RV’s roof. Even though solar technology doesn’t have the charging speed ideal for EV trucks, it could mean the difference between a forced boondock on the side of the highway and making it to the next charging station.

Class E Motorhome Class

One of the first things Lordstown Motors did, was to partner with Camping World. We mentioned above that they signed an agreement with Camping World to be the exclusive dealership to sell the Endurance. Lordstown’s plans also include creating an American Class E motorhome together with Camping World.

A Class E motorhome (their vision anyway) uses a van chassis in a Class B plus format. The battery bay powers both the automotive and coach functions. Before the current issues, Lordstown talked about the idea of the project since it only existed conceptually. The motorhome may have extension slideouts. It could have a full roof extension like the Pleasure-Way Tofino, a rear slideout similar to the 2011 Roadtrek SS Ideal, or typical slideouts.

Once Lordstown gets past their DOJ concerns and has the Endurance in production (we always like to think positive), work on this Class E motorhome will become the priority. There’s no release date yet, but we can’t wait to see the first rendering.

Iridium E-Mobil 70 EB

  • Frame Brand: Fiat Mooveo
  • Chassis Brand: WOF
  • Body and Interior Brand: Maurer Fahrzeugbau (Swiss)
  • EV Conversion Company: ElektroFahrzeuge Stuttgart (EFA-S)
  • Horsepower & Torque: 141 hp @ 480 lb./ ft. & 188 hp @ 730 @ 538 lb./ ft.
  • Single Charge Distance: 249 miles

Unfortunately, The Lordstown and Camping World Class E won’t be the first. The Germans beat them. Say hello to the Iridium E-Mobil 70 EB. It’s in production, and they’ve already announced it’ll never “cross the pond” to North or South America. The company’s reason is that it’s too small for the U.S. and Canadian roads. We would like to counter their opinion by showing them the Winnebago Solis Pocket (it’s about the same size).

The 2017 Iveco framed concept version was first introduced at a German RV Show and looked like a Class C entirely covered by solar panels. It produced 124 miles on a single charge. Despite its “eclectic” look, the RV fascinated the world. The actual B plus built on the Fiat Mooveo had a first production run of 30 units. 

An RV critic had a chance to take one of them out for a test drive. He found out that in the 30 km he drove, the motorhome used 7% of its battery when he averaged 60 mph. He drove a base unit but still had essential features with a floorplan similar to the Winnebago Ekko. The company sells its current edition between €170,000- €200,000 ($199,960- $235,246).

Can Campgrounds Adapt to the Higher Electric Load Required for EV Trucks?

Both Dodge and GM plan on becoming all-electric automakers by 2030 and 2035, respectively. Ford plans to be carbon-neutral by 2050, focusing on the Mustang E-Mach, F-150 Lightning, and Transit in the next few years. Other mainstream automakers have their plans, some of which already have EVs in their home countries.

Home charging and powering up on the road has been thought of, developed, and is popping up across the country. But what about private and public campgrounds? The Great American Outdoors Act has funding to update U.S. National Park utilities, but parks at the state and county level are another matter. Most private campgrounds today still have wiring that dates to the 1970s and 1980s. 

These older electrical systems can handle 30- and 50-amp RVs plugged into each campsite, but can they support the double load when these EV trucks are plugged into the shore power stations too? Also, can the Mom and Pop campgrounds afford to update their electrical systems?

We’re finding that in The Modern Era (2008- Present), which can be called “The Mainstream Era,” Mom and Pop are selling to corporate entities that have the resources to update older campgrounds for today and tomorrow’s RV needs. Of course, this is a discussion for another time.

So to answer the original question: yes, electric pickup trucks can tow and haul RVs, and it will happen as soon as the 2022 RV season. If you remember the cartoons from the 1960s, the automakers finally gave us an all-electric vehicle (even though they don’t fly yet).

Are you in the market for an EV truck? Will you be making the jump once they are on the road? Let us know in the comments!