Winnebago Introduces eRV2 To Wedge Into Electric-RV Future

Winnebago Industries revealed its first fully operational all-electric RV at the gigantic Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa in late January, touting a fully operational, zero-emission “eRV2” that runs both the powertrain and the house systems on electricity, provides up to seven days of “boondocking” in place while occupants live off the batteries, features accouterments made out of recyclable and biodegradable materials, and runs on an app.

“We’ve done extensive consumer research around the demand profile” for electric RVs, Huw Bower, president of the Winnebago brand for the company based in Forest City, Iowa, told me. “There is emerging demand in the marketplace.”

The eRV2 features, for example, 900-watt solar capacity to assist long periods of boondocking, a 48V battery system with more than 15,000 usable watt-hours, a thin lay-flat design stored beneath the floor to maximize interior space, recycled materials in the flooring and mattress system and elsewhere, broad-color spectrum lighting which allows customization of interior lights to reduce light pollution and negative effects on flora and fauna, and an interior that Winnebago said is “inspired by modern Japandi principles, a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian design that creates a clean, calm and multi-functional environment.”

Winnebago introduced its original eRV concept vehicle a year ago at the same event. Two huge obstacles loom in front of the fledgling electrification efforts of Winnebago, Airstream and other recreational-vehicle brands seeking to get traction in the burgeoning business of electrifying personal transportation.

First, concept electric RVs will do little to help generate sales in the near term, which is a very real concern. After a decade-long boom in sales following the Great Recession, U.S. RV sales declined last year from a record 2021 and are expected to get off to a slow start this year.

Second, hulking RVs as an all-electric proposition face considerably larger constraints than do automobiles. For example, they’re huge and heavy, challenging the most robust electric-propulsion systems yet devised. And because their purpose is to help people move around the country, the limitations on the range between charges, and the limited number of charging stations across the U.S., promise to undercut the appeal of all-electric RVs for some time. The prototype is built on a Ford van chassis with a range of about 108 miles, but Bower said Winnebago is working on a longer range before commercialization.

Bower acknowledged that Winnebago hasn’t disclosed a date for commercializing eRV2 or a price point for the all-electric model. But he’s encouraged by consumer interest in test-driving the prototype at the Tampa show and by hundreds of thousands of online views of Winnebago’s “electric manifesto.”

“The electric opportunity taps into the discerning, high-end consumer,” Bower said. “As a brand, we’ve always pioneered and led in this space with innovative products and a new segment of consumers. I think we’ll create sustained demand in electrics over time.”

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