This New Strategy Gives Electric RVs a Boost
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Electric vehicles are looking to take over in upcoming years. However, we’ll still face substantial emissions as automakers work to improve the electric vehicle manufacturing process.
There are still concerns about electric car batteries, specifically regarding range, that are making buyers skeptical about their efficiency. RVs are no exception; their cumbersome size is presenting a challenge for automakers who want to transition RVs from gas to battery power.
According to Jalopnik, Knaus Tabbert thinks this problem can be solved with the help of rotary engines; they call this the E.Power Drive concept. RVs are big, heavy vehicles which makes them difficult to electrify.
Why are RVs hard to electrify?
Converting RVs to electric would be a great benefit to the environment. There have been substantial efforts to build electric RVs, but the vehicle structure has made things difficult for engineers.
RVs aren’t aerodynamic, and they can weigh double or more than a regular car. This would make it hard for the electric car batteries to get a lot of range. So far, there doesn’t seem to be a quick solution that increases their efficiency enough to be effective.
If the problem was range alone, hydrogen fuel cells could be a potential solution. Fuel cells have their own problems with efficiency, though. They allow for faster refueling and can go for longer distances on a full tank, but they need almost double the amount of energy.
The technology is also significantly more expensive to develop, so save some drastic improvements, automakers will most likely stick with batteries.
How does the E.Power Drive concept work?
Knaus Tabbert, a German camper manufacturer, has determined that electric RVs can be viable, and may have found a potential solution—Wankel rotary engines as range extenders. Knaus has created a Class-C RV that uses a rotary engine to help power the electric motor and extend its range.
This blended system, which Knaus has named the E.Power Drive concept, relies mostly on the 35 kWh electric battery motor. The battery capability is somewhat underwhelming due to its size, offering a range of 56 miles with the speed topping out at around 68 mph.
But RV lovers can rest easy. As soon as the battery depletes, the rotary engine activates and works to charge the battery and power the RV. The rotary only needs one tank of fuel to power the RV for five days. The engine even helps when the vehicle is parked by speeding up the charging process, cutting the charge time by almost two and a half hours.
The future of E.Power Drive RVs
Currently, the E.Power Drive model is only a concept, and no push has been made to start moving the vehicles into production. There’s also no information from Knaus regarding exactly how far the rotary engine extends the range.
There are some benefits specific to the rotary engine, like its compact setup that requires less time and fewer resources to assemble. Still, Knaus believes that using another source, such as hydrogen power, in tandem with the electric battery could be effective in the future.