Lightship RV has developed a new caravan travel trailer that comes with the ability to propel itself while being towed, thus preserving either the range of an EV or the fuel economy of a petrol vehicle that's towing it. Combining an ultra aerodynamic design with an electric power plant and 80 kWh battery pack, the Lightship L1 effectively solves the problem that EVs have with towing: the tremendous drop in range they experience. According to the company, this means "a 300-mile range electric vehicle (EV) used to tow it remains a 300-mile range EV, and a 25-mpg petrol truck remains a 25-mpg petrol truck."
The L1 itself is a 27-foot (8.2 metres) long travel trailer that stands 6 feet, 9 inches (2 metres) tall in Road Mode and 10 feet (3 metres) tall in Camp Mode. It weighs around 7,500 pounds (3,400 kilograms) fully loaded, which means it's light enough to be towed by any half-ton full-size pickup, including electric ones like the Ford Lightning and Rivian R1T. The entire roof as well as its dual awnings are covered in solar panels that can produce an impressive 3 kW of energy, so owners can boondock without access to power for up to a week or more, and the L1 can even charge your EV back up with the sun's rays.
Gallery: Lightship L1 All-Electric Towable RV
The company says its caravan will sleep 4-6 people, though the renderings make it look like the perfect size for just a couple. The bed is converted from the main lounge area, there is an indoor and outdoor kitchen, and the onboard bathroom is a wet bath that includes a rainfall shower. All of the appliances are electric so there's no propane on board. Unfortunately, there's no word yet on the sizes of the fresh water, grey, and black tanks.
Regarding price, the L1 will start at $125,000 (approx. £105,600) or $118,400 (£100,000) after tax credits. Is that expensive? Yes and no. You can buy similarly sized travel trailers for less than $50,000 (£42,250), but there's a growing market for caravans with higher price tags that offer features and a level of build quality you can't get from the mass market brands. Taken in that context, the L1 should have no problem finding buyers despite its six-figure cost. You can get in line for one now with a $500 (£423) pre-order at www.lightshiprv.com and expect to receive it in late 2024 when production begins.
The Lightship team itself is an impressive bunch that includes people from Rivian, Proterra, Lucid, and Zoox, in addition to Tesla. Co-founders Ben Parker and Toby Kraus both spent a part of their careers at Tesla working on the Model S.
We're excited to see a company take this approach to the electric motorhome market. Companies like Winnebago have rolled out self-contained electric RVs based on vans like the eSprinter, but their ranges are still too low to be considered a realistic solution for all-electric travel. Travel trailers, though, are the predominant form of motorhome bought in the US, and they make a perfect platform for carrying more batteries. And introducing self propulsion to extend the range of a tow vehicle up to its original figure means one thing: freedom to go anyplace and do anything you want while not emitting a lick of anything harmful to fauna or flora. Count us in.