The idea of a self-propelled camping trailer has been explored for several years, but the RV industry has yet to catch up with the electric revolution in the automotive industry. Lightship, a Silicon Valley startup founded by former Tesla employees, aims to disrupt the RV industry by developing an all-electric RV from the ground up. The company’s L1 travel trailer features a self-propulsion system that relies on an 80-kWh battery to power the wheels, as well as all onboard appliances and equipment.
The L1 is a 27-foot travel trailer with a 7,500-lb gross vehicle weight rating and sleeping space for four to six people. Despite its size, Lightship claims that the L1 is three times more aerodynamic than a traditional travel trailer, thanks to a retractable aero-optimized shell that helps to improve efficiency. The company also promises that the L1’s electric propulsion system will ensure that a 300-mile EV can tow the camper for the full 300 miles, without a significant decrease in range or efficiency.
The L1’s battery system will power both the motor drive and all onboard appliances and equipment, eliminating the need for gasoline, diesel, or propane. Lightship also includes a massive roof-mounted solar array with up to 3,000 watts, which will help to keep the battery full and the camper operating off-grid for up to a week. Lightship also mentions “connected features,” although it has yet to provide further details.
The L1’s aerodynamics revolve around a multi-positional glasshouse that lowers and nests over the lower body, dropping the trailer below the height of the tow vehicle. The wheels are hidden behind fairings for further aerodynamic gains, and the body has been carefully streamlined with a narrow front-end and slippery shape. When parked, the glassy upper body lifts up to open up a bright, airy interior defined by large windows.
Lightship plans to begin production in late 2024, with the L1 starting at $125,000. However, an available tax credit can cut that price to $118,400. Pre-orders are available now for a $500 reservation fee.
The RV industry has been slow to adapt to the electric revolution in the automotive industry, with few companies offering electric or hybrid RVs. However, Lightship’s L1 travel trailer may pave the way for a new generation of electric RVs that are more efficient, cleaner, and quieter than traditional gasoline or propane-powered models.
According to a 2019 report by the RV Industry Association, over 10 million households in the US own an RV, with a total of 504,599 RV shipments in 2018 alone. With more and more consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint, electric RVs may become increasingly popular in the coming years.
The self-propelled camping trailer may also appeal to consumers who are looking for a more sustainable and off-grid camping experience. With its all-electric propulsion system and massive solar array, the L1 can provide a week’s worth of camping without relying on noisy, smelly generators or propane tanks.
While the L1’s price point may be a barrier to entry for some consumers, Lightship’s emphasis on innovation and sustainability may make it an attractive option for those who are willing to invest in a high-quality electric RV. As the electric revolution continues to gain momentum in the automotive industry, it’s likely that more companies will begin to develop electric RVs that can offer a more sustainable and enjoyable camping experience.