So, on the one hand, electric vehicles are great for towing things. They make huge amounts of torque, and it’s available all the time. Unfortunately, towing also has a habit of tanking an EV’s range. To get around the latter, Airstream and Thor Industries have teamed up to produce a concept trailer that not only packs a big lithium-ion battery but also drives its own wheels.
The Airstream eStream, announced Thursday, features an 80-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion high-voltage battery that, in addition to powering many of the trailer’s ancillary systems, also powers drive motors on its two axles. These drive motors effectively reduce the effort that a tow vehicle needs to put out to pull the trailer and would likely negate a considerable chunk of that range penalty.
But wait, as they say, there’s more. Many trailers, including the notoriously sleek all-aluminum-bodied Airstream, have things like vents and fans and big chonky HVAC units on their roofs. These are necessary to make life comfy inside the trailer, but they’re not good for aerodynamic efficiency. The eStream moves the HVAC equipment under the floor of the trailer, and the roof gets a bunch of semiflexible solar panels to help recoup some of its own juice while parked up or on the road.
“What the eStream represents for Airstream is a glimpse into our future,” Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler said in a statement. “We created an aspirational travel trailer — something that supports and encourages a sustainable way to travel and gives future customers the opportunity to spend more time off-grid pursuing their passions without having to worry about managing their resources. It’s really about improving the customer experience and making sure we deliver a sustainability-focused product at the end of that road.”
The 22-foot Airstream eStream is just a concept for now, but it’s definitely something we’d love to see enter production, particularly as EVs continue to gain market share and especially since electric pickups like theand become more common sights on our roads.