With the current push to make all vehicles electric, what does this mean for RVers who need a powerful truck to tow their travel trailer or fifth wheel? Can electric-powered engines meet the demand of long RV trips?
These questions are a hot topic in the RV world, and this article is going to sort out all the latest information on how EV trucks will affect the RV industry.
Before you stress about what types of trucks will be available so you can continue to camp and RV as usual, stay here to learn what is going on behind the scenes with truck manufacturers to make camping enthusiasts happy!
EV Truck and Motorhome Trends
Some states, like California, have mandates that after 2035 no petroleum-fuel vehicles can be sold. To work with these types of mandates for EV vehicles, GM and Ford say they won’t continue to manufacture gas or diesel vehicles after this date.
While theoretically, the mandate seems like a good idea for the environment, what does this pose for the recreational vehicle industry that relies on long-range, powerful trucks to tow their camping trailers?
Ford has the F-150 Lightning electric truck on the market, which has a top range of 300 miles. GMC is bringing out a Hummer EV SUV with a proposed towing capacity of up to 14,500 pounds, which should widen the range of travel trailers or fifth wheels you could haul.
Is an electric engine even feasible for Class A or Class C motorhomes? As of right now, the current technology behind electric motors limits the ability to haul these heavier motorhomes down the road far enough to make them a viable option.
In 2019, Winnebago did bring out the J38SE Class A EV motorhome with an 85-125 mile range between charges, but the lack of demand along with the worldwide health crisis shut down production.
Luckily, if you’re in the marketplace for a campervan, you can buy current EV Class B models like the Iridium EV with a 249-mile range, or you can convert a Nissan e-NV200 or a Sprinter F-Cell into a simple RV if you keep the build light.
Electric Vehicle Pros and Cons
Outside of reducing harmful emissions, electric vehicle engines do benefit from producing an impressive amount of torque from the instant you press down the accelerator.
This instant power means you won’t have to slowly “work up” to travel speeds that may put you in harm’s way when pulling a camper onto the roadways.
Another pro of EV vehicles is how quiet they run. No longer do you need to disturb the campground with your loud truck, which fits perfectly into the vibe of camping peacefully in nature.
The biggest negative of electric engines is the mileage range. While smaller, lighter EV cars can go several hundred miles on a single charge, a heavy-duty truck pulling a trailer or fifth wheel won’t match the performance.
The need to stop recharging your EV tow vehicle or EV motorhome every 50-100 miles will put a damper on any RV trip.
The trick manufacturers use to make EV trucks more energy-efficient is to create a very aerodynamic design. The less wind resistance, the more distance the electric engine can cover.
If you have a small travel trailer like a teardrop that is also aerodynamic, you may be happy with your EV truck and trailer’s range. However, if you have a more traditional travel trailer with a boxy shape, you will probably be unhappy with the mileage range.
EV Vehicles with Tow Ratings
Surprisingly, you can purchase current electric vehicles that have a tow rating. Check out these top contenders, along with suggested travel trailers you can safely pull with them.
Tesla Model X SUV Plaid
To gain enough power to tow a trailer behind the Tesla Model X Plaid, you’ll need to upgrade to the Plaid model that features all-wheel drive and three electric drive motors.
The 295-mile range between charges is without towing, so expect this distance to be 40%-50% lower if you hook up a travel trailer.
Tesla Model X Plaid (Video)
Ford F-150 Lightening
The Ford F-150 Lightning has a range of up to 300 miles, but the mileage range drops to around 100 when towing, which will impact what type of trailer you buy, along with how far you plan to take camping trips.
F150 Lightning Pro! (Video)
The Tesla Motors Cybertruck is another option that brings the latest technological advancements to the EV vehicle industry.
By choosing options suitable for towing a recreational vehicle, you can make the most of its 250-mile non-towing range. However, the higher sidewalls of the truck bed make towing some trailers challenging, so do plenty of research if this model of EV truck interests you.
Tesla Cybertruck (Video)
GMC EV Hummer SUV
The GMC EV Hummer SUV looks cool and boasts a high tow rating, but be aware that the truck itself weighs around 9,500 pounds which will decrease range significantly from its 350-mile non-towing range.
GMC EV Hummer SUV (Video)
Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV is a fantastic selection if you plan to tow an ultra-lightweight travel trailer.
The 265-mile range before towing will lose ground by at least %30, so plan your trips and recharge locations accordingly.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV (Video)
The Rivian R1T has many package options to increase towing capacity so you can pull heavier travel trailers.
The 315-mile range drops to around 150 while towing larger camping trailers but is one of the more powerful EV trucks currently available.
Rivian R1T (Video)
Best Travel Trailer Models to Tow With an EV SUV or EV Truck
Keeping your EV truck or SUV towing capacity in line with your travel trailer weight will ensure safe travels and the most range, so you can stop less for recharging.
The following are the lightest travel trailers on the market, that are worth looking into if you’re trying to pair an electric vehicle with a camping trailer:
- Happier Camper HC1
- Airstream Basecamp
- Timberleaf Teardrop Trailer
- Hiker Trailer
- Taxa Outdoors Cricket
- Safari Condo Alto R Series
- Forest River R-Pod
- KZ Sportsmen Classic 100RK
- Polydrop P17
Happier Camper HC1
The Happier Camper HC1 has a 1,100-lb dry weight and rounded trailer box that makes it a favorite for pulling behind an EV truck or EV SUV.
The modular interior Adaptiv System is the most flexible of RV designs that allow you to customize the space to best suit each camping excursion.
Happier Camper HC1 (Video)
The Airstream Basecamp is an iconic choice that boasts a 2,650 dry weight and more space and options than other lightweight travel trailers.
Timberleaf Classic Teardrop Trailer
The Timberleaf Classic Teardrop Trailer works beautifully for EV vehicles with towing capacity as the lower profile and highly aerodynamic design aid in keeping the driving range high.
With a 1,500-lb dry weight, you can easily tow this camping trailer.
The Hiker Trailer is ideal for people who enjoy RV trips in off-grid locations but want more protection from the elements than you get from a tent.
The various models have dry weight ranges from 850 pounds to 1,350 pounds, all well within the safe towing capacity of most EV vehicles.
Hiker Trailer (Video)
Taxa Outdoors Cricket
The Taxa Outdoors Cricket travel trailer features a cool pop-up roof to expand headspace and increase air circulation inside the RV.
The small travel trailer has a dry weight of 1,750 pounds and offers floor plans that can easily sleep two adults and up to two kids.
Safari Condo Alto R Series
The Safari Condo Alto R Series are some of the coolest-looking travel trailers that are also lightweight enough to tow behind an EV truck or SUV.
The heaviest of the three fixed or retractable-roof models comes in at 1,867 dry weight, giving you plenty of room and storage to pack all your camping supplies.
Forest River R-Pod 192
The Forest River R-Pod 192 floorplan provides all the amenities and space that make camping comfortable, yet only has a dry weight of 3,379 pounds.
Being able to pull a 22-foot camper that can sleep a small family is pretty exciting if you want a lightweight EV-vehicle-friendly travel trailer.
Forest River R-Pod 192 (Video)
KZ Sportsmen Classic 100RB
The KZ Sportsman Classic 100RB is their smallest camping trailer, but this model has a shower, toilet, awning, kitchen appliances, and sleeping capacity for two.
The dry weight of this trailer is 2,240 pounds and is around 16-feet in length.
Polydrop P17 Essential
The Polydrop P17 Essential is a rugged and affordable travel trailer ideal for all-weather RV camping.
The no-frills design is still sleek and efficient, and the dry weight for the various floor plans ranges from 820-1,100 pounds, perfect for EV vehicle towing.
Polydrop P17 Essential (Video)
All-Electric Travel Trailer Brands
There are two all-electric travel trailers that you can purchase if you want to keep both your truck or SUV and camping trailer using the same type of energy to operate.
While it’s often convenient not to worry about propane fills, these travel trailers have a traditional shape, which creates more drag and lowers the range of your EV truck or EV SUV for towing.
The cost of both trailers isn’t too far out of line with standard RV trailers, but the value increases with the capability to boondock comfortably for longer lengths of time versus a propane-run RV.
RV Industry’s Latest Upgrade to Support EV Vehicle Technology
To support EV tow vehicles and EV motorhomes, the RV industry engineers see the need to include a second battery bay to house the energy necessary to keep the vehicles running longer distances between charges.
It takes at least 90 minutes to recharge an EV vehicle at a rapid-charging station, which can put a damper on long-distance RV trips. Adding a secondary battery bank that the RV or tow vehicle can utilize for power is the best solution to the problem.
The downside of the extra batteries is the weight, lowering the cargo you can pack for camping trips, and increasing stress on the EV motor.
The standard RV house battery or batteries will continue to provide power for the camper’s appliances and devices via the converter or inverter.
The secondary battery bank will connect to the electric motor and help extend power to run vehicle lights. In addition, a trickle charge from the solar panels helps regenerate battery-power loss so that you can travel just a bit further.
Every passing day increases the design concepts and alterations as technology rapidly advances in the EV vehicle industry and transfers over to the EV RV industry. What the next several years bring forth will surprise every RV enthusiast out there.
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If going EV sooner rather than later is on your RV bucket list, then you can find EV trucks and SUVs currently available that can tow many travel trailers, or you can select a Class B campervan motorhome.
Suppose you are thinking of upgrading to an EV RV lifestyle within a few years. In that case, the door is wide open for new recreational vehicle models and technology that will expand your choices and deliver a better range and lower prices.
I find the information in this guide helpful to get an idea of what the RV industry is doing to handle the transition to EV vehicles and showcase the current options for EV campervans.
Yes, you can tow a travel camping trailer with an EV truck if you buy the right one. So check out the models above and enjoy a new way to enjoy the RV lifestyle!
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide