Electric vehicles (EVs) are making waves in Canada, with the nation nearing a significant milestone in EV adoption. Beyond the urban streets and highways, campers are using EVs to tow their recreational vehicles (RVs).
One out of ten passenger vehicles sold is now electric, and the government has ambitious plans to double this figure in the coming years, according to The Canadian Press, as published by Infotel.
While the idea of an EV towing an RV might initially seem far-fetched, advancements in EV technology are making this a reality. From the compact Nissan Leaf to the robust Rivian R1T, electric vehicles of all sizes are showcasing their towing prowess. But how feasible is it to embark on a camping adventure with an EV in tow?
The answer lies in the towing capacities of these vehicles. Smaller EVs, while not as powerful as their larger counterparts, can still tow light trailers. On the other hand, vehicles like the Rivian R1T are designed for heavy-duty towing, capable of pulling weights up to 11,000 lbs. This versatility means that whether campers have a small trailer or a large camper, there’s likely an EV suitable for their needs.
However, towing with an EV isn’t without its challenges.
One of the primary concerns is the impact on battery range. Towing can reduce some EVs’ effective battery range by almost half.
Another is the need for RV-accessible EV infrastructure, particularly pull-through charging stations. Without pull-through charging, electric vehicles with towable RVs would either have to decouple and park the trailer somewhere or, along with other medium and heavy-duty vehicles, they would potentially pull across multiple charging spots and block chargers.
These roadblocks necessitate careful planning, especially for longer trips. Route options with ample charging stations, understanding the gross vehicle weight, and ensuring the right tongue weight are all crucial for a successful journey.
Safety, as always, remains paramount. Proper checks on the hitch, electrical connections, and ensuring a secure weight distribution can make the difference between a smooth journey and potential hazards.
The Need for More EV Infrastructure: Yes, Even for Campgrounds
As of the first quarter of 2023, over 30,000 new EVs were registered, making up 8.6% of total passenger vehicles. This data, provided by Statistics Canada, indicates a slight dip from the last quarter of 2022, where EVs constituted 9.6% of new registrations.
Despite the decline in EV registrations, Trevor Melanson from Clean Energy Canada offers a more optimistic perspective. He anticipates a surge in EV sales in the upcoming months, buoyed by the introduction of more federal rebates for electric vehicles. This initiative could potentially make EVs more accessible to a broader segment of the Canadian population.
On the contrary, Brian Kingston, the president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, has voiced concerns regarding this decline. He points to the relatively higher costs of EVs and the limited availability of charging infrastructure as potential barriers for Canadians considering the switch to electric.
But where do things stand right now? In July last year, the Canadian Government announced a CA$414,000 funding for new EV chargers in the Northwest Territories. About CA$3.5 million was also invested to install 31 Level 2 EV chargers and 67 fast chargers across Ontario and Quebec.
Campgrounds are also recognizing the necessity of accommodating these vehicles, especially with 44% of EV-towing campers expecting a fast-charging (1-hour) station at each individual campground, according to THOR’s North American Motorized Electric RV Study.
The BC Lodging & Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) in May 2022 first shared news about a British Columbia rebate program, still under the wings of ZEVIP, that grants up to CA$5,000 per EV charging station for businesses.
Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in 2021 also announced a partnership with Jamestown Advanced Products that will pave the way for most KOA campgrounds across Canada and the United States to have camper-friendly charging stations for EVs.
In the United States, the future of EVs in the outdoor hospitality industry continues to be a discussion at conferences.
As for campgrounds expanding their amenities to accommodate electric vehicles, leading the charge is Torrey Trails RV & Golf Resort in Florida. The campground has adapted to this trend by constructing 210 EV-ready sites, showcasing a proactive approach to the evolving needs of campers.
Glamping resorts such as those by Under Canvas also introduced EV charging stations in 2022.
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has been active too, lobbying for enhanced e-RV infrastructure to support the growing number of electric RVs on the road.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) of South Australia last month announced plans of expanding its electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the region. Earlier this year, the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) proposed a bold new plan to transform the country’s 2600 caravan parks into a national electric vehicle (EV) charging network covering regional and rural areas.
Such developments underscore the strategic importance of RV-accessible EV charging stations for campgrounds RV parks, and glamping resorts, ensuring they remain relevant and attractive to a new generation of eco-conscious travelers.
E-RV Innovations in the RV Industry
With the rise of EVs in the towing scene, many campers are now designed with electric mobility in mind. Lightweight construction, compact designs, and energy-efficient features are becoming standard in new camper models.
Yet, instead of just catering to electric tow vehicles, the RV industry is undergoing a transformative shift with the introduction of electric solutions. Pebble has secured a $13.6M investment to innovate the RV sector with electric technologies. In China, Yutong and Farizon are pioneering the development of electric RVs.
Grounded, the electric RV startup founded by ex-Tesla and SpaceX engineers has also unveiled the world’s first fully customizable smart electric RV, the Grounded G1. This RV sets a new standard for sustainable travel with its state-of-the-art design, class-leading layout customization, solar power, and zero emissions.
The G1 is built on Ford’s E-Transit platform, with powertrain and living systems fully electric, aided by 650-watt solar capacity thanks to solar panels built into the roof. It is designed with an assembly system using a library of components, allowing for a variety of layouts, and the modular interior allows users to shape and define the space to meet individual needs.
Another company is SylvanSport, leading the sustainability charge when it announced the development of its all-electric RV line in 2021. Airstream and Thor Industries have introduced the eStream concept travel trailer, marking a significant step towards electrifying adventure. Meanwhile, Winnebago unveiled a prototype of its highly anticipated electric RV at the Florida RV SuperShow in January this year and even completed a 1,300-mile all-electric road trip with the e-RV the year prior, highlighting the feasibility of electric-powered RV travel.
For the German market, Knaus Tabbert revealed its first electric RV, the Knaus E.Power Drive, at the Caravan Salon 2021, setting the stage for future electric RVs. These advancements underscore the industry’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, promising a greener future for RV travel.
YouTube, the popular video-sharing platform, offers a plethora of real-world experiences of campers using EVs for towing. Channels like All Electric Family provide insights into the challenges and advantages of this emerging trend. From managing power at campgrounds to the reactions of fellow campers, these videos offer a glimpse into the future of camping with EVs.
As Canada pushes forward in its EV adoption journey, the realm of camping and RVing is set to undergo a transformation. The combination of technological advancements in EVs and the evolving design of campers promises a sustainable and eco-friendly future for camping enthusiasts.
As we stand at this juncture, one thing is clear: the fusion of EVs and RVs is not just a fleeting trend, but a testament to the evolving landscape of travel and adventure. As more individuals embrace this combination, it paves the way for a new era of eco-conscious exploration.
The journey of towing with EVs is still in its early stages, and there’s much to learn and discover. As manufacturers continue to innovate and improve the towing capacities of EVs, and as infrastructure for charging expands, the challenges faced today will become mere teething issues of the past.
Moreover, the RV industry is also taking note. New models are being designed with the specific needs of EVs in mind. Features that promote energy efficiency, such as solar panels and LED lights, are becoming standard.
But what does this mean for the average camper? It signifies a broader range of options and the ability to embark on journeys with a reduced carbon footprint. The dream of exploring the vast Canadian wilderness without environmental guilt is becoming a tangible reality.
In the grand tapestry of camping adventures, the integration of EVs is a significant thread. It represents the spirit of innovation, the drive for sustainability, and the timeless allure of the open road. As we look to the horizon, the future of camping with EVs shines bright, promising unforgettable adventures powered by clean energy.