(The Gear Loop) - Camping and outdoors enthusiasts have been flocking to the Florida State Fairgrounds this week to catch a glimpse of the latest motorhomes, RVs, caravans and camper vans to hit the market.
Thor Industries, the world’s largest RV manufacturer (and nothing to do with the big guy with the hammer), went big and unveiled two electrified concepts that it feels look towards the future of recreational vehicles in the Unites States and beyond.
One was a recognisable RV based on an electric vehicle platform, but arguably the most eye-catching was its unique eStream travel trailer concept, which fuses classic AirStream caravan styling with an innovative high-voltage electric chassis that aims to take the strain out of towing.
Powered by a propriety system, the trailer is said to dramatically reduce the loss of range for electric tow vehicles and improves gas mileage or miles per gallon for traditional combustion-engine vehicles.
According to Thor, its concept differs to rivals, as it offers the kind of battery capacity and fast charging capabilities that modern EV owners are now used to.
"Our proprietary technology addresses the top concern of electric vehicle users: range limitation. Studies have established that electric vehicles experience a significant loss of range even when towing a small trailer. The technology we co-developed creates a synchronised 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 mproves 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," Josef Hjelmaker, THOR’s Chief Innovation Officer, says.
On top of this, the large capacity battery allows users to tap into this power source and extend off-grid trips by powering electronics and even white goods.
The concept’s engineers also claim the trailer can be operated remotely, allowing users to remote park the unit after un-hitching via a digital device or smartphone. In essence, the eStream becomes a semi-autonomous vehicle in its own right.
We may not be as RV mad as our American cousins, and these concepts could be filed away in the "forward thinking" cabinet, but the eStream is an undeniably smart, clever and, we’ll admit it, very cool way to get lost in the wilderness.