Electric RVs 101: 28 Questions and Concerns Campers Have Regarding eRVs
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You’re here for the most frequently asked questions about electric motorhomes and e-trailers. Whether you’re considering buying an electrified camper or just curious about the subject, we have all the answers to the most burning electric RV questions.
We have reached out to multiple experts and conducted extensive research to give you accurate and up-to-date responses to these electric RV questions. And if you want an eco–friendly RV rental, use our site Go RV Rentals to find, compare prices, and book the most efficient RV rentals near you.
Read on to learn about the most promising electric-powered RV models, as well as their pricing, range, charging time, battery lifetime, and challenges. We will also touch on future electric trends, early adopters, and issues surrounding the charging stations and power grid.
Let’s plug in.
Electric RV Questions: The Basics
Here are the most common electric camper questions answered.
What’s an Electric Motorhome?
An electric motorhome is a recreational vehicle, often abbreviated as eRV, that’s powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a large inbuilt battery. It has a battery instead of a gasoline tank and an electric motor instead of an engine.
Indeed, the battery is recharged at a charging station instead of a fueling station. Electric motorhomes are also referred to as all-electric RVs, electrified motorhomes, emission-free RVs, battery-powered RVs, EV RVs, or BERVs.
What’s the Difference Between Fully Electric RVs and Hybrid Electric RVs?
In an all-electric RV, electricity from its internal battery powers the vehicle. But how do hybrid electric RVs work? A plug-in hybrid camper operates by switching seamlessly between electric energy and fuel power.
The primary propulsion power comes from the battery. When the battery runs low, a small, secondary fuel engine or generator known as a range extender kicks in. This increases the vehicle’s range. Generally, extenders use gas or propane.
Is There an Electric RV for Sale?
Currently, the Grounded G1 electric campervan is the only electric motorhome available for sale in the US. However, there are several e-motorhome concepts that have undergone real-life testing, such as the Winnebago eRV2 and Thor Vision Vehicle.
The eRV2 may be the second to hit the dealerships as Winnebago aims to launch the production version in 2024. Read our comprehensive post on the best electric RVs around the world.
Is There an All-Electric Trailer Available?
The Bowlus Volterra is the only battery-powered camping trailer you can buy today. It’s a solar powered RV with an integrated 17kWh battery pack to power your camping experience. If needed, it can charge an EV tow vehicle and extend its range for up to 65 miles.
Another promising electric RV trailer is the Lightship L1. Production is scheduled to kick off in late 2024. Remarkably, the L1 has a battery pack that will propel the trailer as it’s being towed, ensuring your EV tow vehicle doesn’t lose its range.
How Far Will Electric RVs Go on One Charge?
The average battery-electric RV driving range falls between 60 miles and 400 miles. Grounded G1 electric Class B and Winnebago eRV2, which are both built on a Ford e-Transit platform, guarantee up to 108 miles of range. Thor and SylvanSport promise a best-in-class range of 300 and 400 miles respectively, on a single charge.
However, the average electric motorhome is expected to deliver under 200 miles of range on one charge, despite the majority of RVers expecting at least 300 miles of range.
Ultimately, range will depend on the battery capacity, vehicle weight, terrain, temperature, driving habits, and the use of onboard amenities. Notably, some rigs will have solar panels to constantly replenish the battery, thus extending range. Of course, eRV range will improve as battery technology evolves.
How Long Does It Take To Charge an Electric RV?
It will take between 1 and 30 hours to fully charge an eRV, depending on the charging station you’re using. Of course, different electric RVs will have different charging times. Here are the projected e-RV charging times in optimal conditions:
- Winnebago eRV2 – Takes less than 45 minutes for the chassis battery to get to 80% using a DC fast charger and 2 hours for its house battery when connected to a 240V/50A outlet.
- Mercedez EQV Camper Van – Charges from 10 to 80% in about 45 minutes at 400V station.
- Ford E-Transit Van – 15 to 80% in 34 minutes and 0% to 100% in 8 to 12 hours at a 240V outlet.
Here’s a simplified breakdown of EV charger speeds:
- Level 1 Standard Wall Outlets – Runs on the common household 120 volts and is the slowest. It takes over 30 hours to fully power up an electric car.
- Level 2 Outlets – Operates on 240 volts and is the most common EV charger. It delivers a full charge in 4 to 12 hours.
- Level 3 DC Fast Chargers – They are the fastest, taking 20 minutes to 1 hour to fully power up an electric car. They require a 400 to 1000-volt electrical source.
Remember, outside temperature, battery temperature, and battery size can affect charge time.
How Much Will Electric RVs Cost?
Initially, we expect premium pricing on electric motorhomes. Electric Class B and C models will go from around $100,000 to over $300,000 MSRP. If you prefer a custom van build, an empty Ford e-Transit cargo van starts at $51,495.
Professional camper van conversion companies may charge you upwards of $100,000 to turn it into a comfortable and efficient camper.
Here are some electric motorhome prices:
- Grounded G1 Electric Campervan Price – $125,000
- Winnebago Electric RV Price – Around $200,000 by our estimates
- Thor Electric RV Price – May cost $250,000+ due to more advanced features
- Nissan Electric Campervan Price – Around $75,000
Certainly, electric trailer prices will also be quite expensive. Here’s what to expect:
- Lightship L1 Camper Price – Approximately $125,000
- Bowlus Volterra Price – Starts at a whopping $287,500 after tax credit.
Will Electric RVs Be as Reliable as Gas-Powered Rigs?
Once the electric RV technology matures, we can expect eRVs to be just as reliable, if not more so, than rigs with internal combustion engines. Currently, manufacturers are still trying to figure out the best approach to build dependable all-electric, zero-emission motorhomes.
It’s only a matter of time before they have enough feedback, real-world testing, and performance data to fine-tune their creations. Not too far on the horizon, eRVs will soon match the range and refueling convenience of gas rigs.
Also, it’s comforting to know that electric vehicles are more reliable and affordable to maintain since they have fewer moving parts and simpler mechanics compared to gas vehicles. Plus, they accelerate way faster and are expected to reach a top speed of 100+ miles per hour.
How Many Years Will Electric RV Batteries Last?
We predict electric-powered RV batteries will last at least 8 years. This is based on the fact that the US federal government requires every electric car battery to come with a warranty lasting 8 years minimum or up to 100,000 miles.
We expect electric RV manufacturers to match these standards. With proper maintenance, an eRV battery could last 10+ years before replacement. Interestingly, that’s about the lifespan of the typical motorhome.
How Much Will it Cost to Replace an Electric Motorhome Battery?
We anticipate that electric RV owners will fork out upwards of $15,000 to replace their rig’s battery. Notably, this prediction takes into account the current EV battery replacement cost of $5,000 to $20,000 and calculates that eRVs will need bigger, more powerful batteries.
Of course, your replacement cost will depend on battery size, manufacturer, and labor charges. It could also be free if your battery is still under warranty. The good news is that battery costs are expected to decline over time thanks to advancements in battery technology and an increase in manufacturing volume.
How Do You Recharge the Electric RV Battery in the Middle of Nowhere?
Currently, portable emergency solar car chargers are the simplest way to recharge when your E-RV battery dies in a remote place. Unfortunately, this solution is slow. After a few hours of charging, you’ll only get enough range to reach the nearest charging station.
If you are near an urban area, the quickest way is to contact a roadside assistance service for electric vehicles. Impressively, these mobile recharging services transfer around 30 miles of range in 30 minutes. If there’s no such service in the area, you’ll have to rely on traditional tow trucks or drive up to a home and ask to plug in.
Excitingly, Amazon wants to build special drones that attach to the EV to provide a charge as you drive. What’s comforting is that electric-powered vehicles give you plenty of warnings when the battery is nearing empty. Additionally, they show you the quickest route to the nearest charging station.
Can I Rent an Electric RV?
Yes. But currently, you can only find electric RV rentals on the Grounded G1 website. Note that they only offer year-long rentals. Of course, you’ll start seeing electric motorhomes for rent on sites like Go RV Rentals when more conversion companies start kitting out electric vans. And when factory-made electric RVs become common.
Electric RV Questions: Exploring How eRVs Will Impact the Current Charging Infrastructure and Power Grid
Here, we will answer questions about electric motorhomes concerning charging systems and the power grid.
Will the Charging Infrastructure Support Electric RVs When Needed?
There are around 50,000 public EV charging stations in the US and about 120,000 charging ports. However, the current infrastructure isn’t at the level needed to support eRVs and big electric tow trucks. That’s because all-electric RVs are expected to have bigger battery packs, which will require higher power charging stations.
At a minimum, battery electric RVs will need higher capacity Level 3 fast charging stations. Furthermore, these stations will need to be built along frequently used RVing routes. Tom Davidock, the owner of Outdoor Miles, is one of the industry experts we spoke to. He points out that the current charging setup is designed for passenger vehicles, and physically maneuvering a large RV in the space would be problematic.
Will the Power Grid Handle Electric RVs When They Become Prevalent?
EV charging typically occurs during off-peak hours when overall electricity demand is lower. Still, the electrical grid will need to be drastically upgraded to handle the increased adoption of EVs and eRVs. Notably, the significant energy consumption and charging requirements of electric RVs may strain local grids, especially in areas with a high concentration of RVs.
Thankfully, power companies and grid operators are actively addressing this issue. They are rolling out smart grid technologies that enable better load management and peak shaving to ensure the power grid remains resilient. To highlight some progress, Southern California Edison has committed to investing over $800 million in grid upgrades and charging infrastructure.
Further, solar panels and wind turbines can harvest renewable energy at a charging station. This green energy can charge a station’s local storage batteries. Ultimately, this will allow eRVs to charge without imposing additional demand on the grid. More impressively, there is technology on the horizon that may eliminate the need for charging stations. If all goes to plan, the Wind Wall invention will allow electric motorhomes to self-charge on the go as long as there’s wind.
Will Campgrounds Be Able to Support the Electric RVs’ Power Demands When They Become Prevalent?
Many RV parks are installing charging stations for electric tow vehicles. But the power demands of fully electric RVs are expected to be higher compared to regular EVs. That means campgrounds will have to rethink their electric infrastructure. This is the only way to accommodate the much larger power draw required to recharge eRV batteries while still running their onboard electric systems.
According to Jane Jones from See Sight Tours, solutions include installing higher-capacity electrical pedestals, adding dedicated electric motorhome charging stations, or implementing designated charging time slots. They could also harness power from renewable sources to complement the local grid.
How Will RV Parks Pass on the Costs of Charging RVs?
The cost of installing a commercial DC Fast Charger ranges from $30,000 to over $150,000. To recoup their investment, campgrounds will most likely charge a separate eRV charging station fee on top of the nightly rate.
They could also consider installing these dedicated electric motorhome stations only on premium sites. Further, electricity usage may be metered, and electric RV owners billed for the amount actually used.
Electric RV Questions and Answers: eRV Impact on Camping and the Environment
Let’s discuss some electric motorhome questions in regard to their impact on RVing and the planet.
How Will eRVs Change the RV Camping Experience as We Know it Today?
First, battery-powered RVs will cut tailpipe emissions associated with traditional gas-powered RVs. This will help reduce our local and global environmental impact. Second, electric motorhomes will offer a quieter camping experience due to their low noise levels. Meaning you won’t disturb nature or other campers.
Thanks to the huge capacity batteries, EV RVs will have a greater ability to power devices and cooking appliances without traditional fuel. This boondocking capability will open up more remote and less-traveled areas for camping. Loyd Rozzo, the owner of Siesta Campers, a leading campervan hire company in Portugal and Spain, reveals that it’s only a matter of time before eRVs replace the current rental fleets.
In fact, the US government plans to end purchases of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. This may trigger an influx of electric RV rentals to cater to those who can’t afford to buy an electric motorhome. So, in the near to mid-term future, we expect to see most campers traveling in electric RV rentals.
Will Electric RVs Be Truly Emission-free?
Yes, fully electric RVs will have zero tailpipe emissions. Additionally, many of them are being built with recycled and sustainable materials to create a lower carbon footprint. But that doesn’t mean they will be 100% emission-free.
Their manufacturing process, especially building the batteries, is energy intensive. Also, generating the electricity used to charge them may create carbon pollution. Nonetheless, over the course of their lifetime, all-electric RVs will be cleaner and greener than fuel-chugging campers.
What are the Challenges of Electric Camper Adoption?
According to Carl Borg, Founder of Outforia, the early challenges of electric RV adoption are high upfront costs and limited range. The current battery technology has not yet achieved the same mileage as fuel-burning RVs, creating range anxiety. Further, access to eRV-compatible charging stations is currently limited.
Plus, finding a spot to power up may be a problem for those traveling to or passing through rural and remote areas. This, combined with longer recharge times, will make long trips challenging. Finally, there will be a limited number of electric RV models to choose from. Presently, only a handful of companies are working on eRV projects.
What Type of RVers Will Benefit from 100% Electric RVs?
In the near term, it’s the environmentally conscious RVers and trendsetters who will take the first leap and benefit the most from electrified RVs. Also, campers who prefer to travel less than 100 miles to their destination (and they are the majority at 56%) will be more inclined to take advantage of eRVs. Largely because they won’t be overly concerned by the initial range limitations.
Ultimately, when the range and charging infrastructure progresses, everyone, including those who like extended road trips and full-timers, will benefit from electric motorhomes. The budget-conscious traveler will also love the fact that maintenance and recharging will be much more affordable.
Will Electric RVs Be Actually Cheaper to Own in the Long Run?
A recent study showed that the lifetime ownership costs for an electric car is many thousands of dollars lower versus a comparable gas-powered vehicle. Since electric motorhomes are basically using the same technology as EVs, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll be cheaper to own in the long haul than rigs burning fossil fuel.
The upfront cost will be higher, but the operating costs significantly lower. Definitely, the fuel savings and low maintenance expenses make it worth it in the long term. Plus, eRVs may be eligible for government incentives, helping offset the initial investment. Further, we anticipate electric RVs to hold their value better due to less wear and tear, thanks to fewer mechanical parts.
Electric RV Questions: Exploring the Future of Electric RVs and Adoption
Now let’s dive into some electric RV FAQs regarding the future of the industry.
What Percentage of Motorhome Sales Will be Electric RV in 2030?
By 2030, 50% of all the vehicles sold in the US will be electric. Since the battery technology is already there and there is an EV blueprint to follow, it’s safe to say electric motorhomes will capture around 10% of the RV market by 2030.
Our estimate is quite modest because we’re yet to see the first driveable electric RVs hit the market. Plus, many eRV companies are pushing back their mass production dates. However, we believe that improvements in battery technology, increasingly eco-conscious consumers, and attractive government incentives, will make electric-fired RVs more enticing.
By 2035, battery technology will have matured to achieve affordable rigs with 300+ miles of range. Plus, economies of scale will make battery-electric RV production cheaper. Around this time, more than 50% of all RV sales will be electric.
What Percentage of Travel Trailer Sales Will Be Electric RV in 2030?
Looking at current trends, we forecast there will be more electric camping trailers than motorhomes. That’s because fully electric trailers have already hit the market, compared to many electric motorhomes, which are still in the concept stage.
Electrified trailers will take a larger share of the market since they are easier to develop compared to e-motorhomes, which have a bigger battery pack and sophisticated electric motor. e-trailers don’t require large-capacity batteries as the tow vehicle does most of the pulling when traveling. And the fact that most electric RV trailers have a self-propulsion system that helps the tow vehicle maintain its original range makes them even more attractive.
How Much Range Do Potential Electric RV Buyers Want Before Owning an eRV?
According to a poll on RVTravel.com, the majority (38%) of 2,300 respondents said they would need an electric motorhome to have at least 500 miles of range before considering a purchase.
11% of the respondents expect a range of at least 700 miles, while 10% want at least 300 miles. Notably, Winnebago argues that a range of 200 miles is enough to meet the needs of a majority of RV buyers, as most campers prefer to make trips within 200 miles of their homes.
What Demographic Will Be Early Adopters of eRV?
Younger generations and middle-aged persons are more receptive to the idea of going electric. In fact, Gen X is buying the most electric cars, at 40%, followed closely by Millennials at 35%. These buyers have an annual household income of more than $100,000.
Based on these numbers, we predict that early adopters of battery-powered RVs will be a mix of young and middle-aged adults. In addition, they will be financially stable, well-educated, tech-savvy, and passionate about the environment. AJ Yaarwood from OpenAir Advisers, notes that most of the early adopters will already be EV or hybrid car owners.
So, they’ll have already overcome the initial barriers and concerns associated with EV ownership, such as range anxiety and charging infrastructure availability. Their positive experience with EV technology will probably extend to electric RVs, making them eager to adopt emission-free travel.
What Forces are Accelerating Electric RV to Commercial Realization?
The main force driving the commercial realization of all-electric RVs is the advances in battery technology. With EVs having fully electrified chassis with decent range, it’s easier to use that blueprint to create eRVs.
Other factors include the growing demand for eco-friendly travel options, government incentives, falling lithium battery prices, and improved charging infrastructure. Also, advancement in renewable energy technologies like solar and wind is spurring the growth of fully electric RV manufacturing.
Much Consideration has Been Given to the Electrification of the eRV Chassis, But How Will Innovations in Battery and Solar Power Change the Functionality of the “House” Portion of the RV?
Apart from the chassis, lithium-ion batteries are also revolutionizing the living quarters of the RV. According to Ionel V, an automotive engineer for over 20 years and owner of carphrases.com, Li-ion batteries are more power-dense compared to traditional 12-volt lead-acid batteries. Meaning they store more energy in a smaller space.
Li-ions can now provide enough energy to support low-wattage cooling systems, which traditionally required power hookups or generators. The latest solar panels are also doing a better job of turning sunlight into usable electricity. Yet, they are smaller and lighter, perfect for RVers. Combining Li-ion batteries and highly efficient solar panels will allow your RV to easily run power-hungry appliances.
You’ll power the AC, furnace, fridge, entertainment systems, and other devices when camping off-grid without worrying about draining the battery. Further, RV makers are integrating batteries and solar to help campers monitor and manage their power usage from smartphones. Ultimately, you’ll have a more comfortable RV living experience, camp off-grid longer, and wean yourself from unsustainable power sources like propane and generators.
Early eRV Prototypes from Major Manufacturers are Class B Campervans from Major Automakers Who are Driving the Electrification of Passenger Vehicles. Will the Makers of Larger Chassis of Class A Motorhomes Soon be Developing Prototypes? What are the Unique Challenges of the Larger Vehicles?
Class B campervans are generally smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable than their Class A counterparts, which makes them a natural starting point for electrification. However, it is likely that we will eventually see prototypes for larger battery-powered motorhomes as the technology and charging infrastructure matures.
The primary challenges include developing more powerful batteries with a decent range for Class A motorhomes, which are much larger and heavier. Further, the mammoth living quarters of a Class A have tremendous power demands, requiring a huge-capacity battery.
At the onset, these factors will prove difficult to overcome and may push up production costs. But the ongoing innovation and global push towards sustainability will propel the development of electric Class A RV prototypes in the coming years.
Electric RVs: Charging Into the Future
Just like electric cars have taken the auto industry by storm, electric-fired RVs are set to redefine the way we travel and camp. In fact, multiple household RV companies and new startups are in advanced stages of creating these futuristic rigs.
We hope the above electric RV questions and answers have cleared up any concerns you have regarding battery-powered rigs.