The classic Airstream trailer is going electric. Airstream parent company Thor Industries recently unveiled an electric trailer concept that could open the door to more environmentally-friendly glamping.
Unveiled at the 2022 Florida RV SuperShow, the Airstream eStream concept uses built-in battery packs and an electric motor to reduce the range loss of electric tow vehicles, or the fuel economy of gasoline or diesel rigs, Thor Industries said.
Beneath the familiar streamlined body (which helps reduce aerodynamic drag, Airstream notes) is a drive system developed by ZF. A similar system helped stretch the range of an Audi E-Tron Sportback in a demonstration by German RV firm Dethleffs run last year.
An electric motor drives the trailer's axle in certain situations, allowing the trailer to push itself and thus reduce the load on the tow vehicle. It can even be used to remotely maneuver the trailer in and out of parking spaces, Airstream claims.
While the eStream is officially just a concept, technology like this could prove useful in the real world. EVs can see range drop nearly in half when towing, and most public charging stations can't accommodate trailers. So anything that could potentially boost range would be a big help to EV-driving campers.
That will be especially true as more electric pickup trucks enter production. The Rivian R1T is already in production with an 11,000-pound towing capacity. Production of the GMC Hummer EV is ramping up, with the Ford F-150 Lightning and others expected to follow soon.