Airstream May Look Retro But That’s Only a Disguise

Very few makers of anything have captured the vintage aesthetic well while building something that works with modern ease and reliability. Plenty of automotive manufacturers have tried and failed. Look at the Dodge Charger, Challenger, Mustang, Harley Davidson, and countless others that “resurrected” a classic design for a new car. Like them or not, they simply don’t look like the old ones – like, not at all. However, a few companies have managed to keep things looking the same on the surface while completely updating and improving mechanics and comfort. This camper company needs no introduction, but I’m talking, of course, about Airstream

How old is Airstream?

The first Airstream was called the Clipper and debuted in 1936. Needless to say, not much has changed since then – at least, not on the outside. Despite Airstream’s classic Art Deco design, the company is dedicated to pushing technology and innovation boundaries while keeping everything chrome. In an interview with Gear Patrol, Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, discussed how integrating technology into its campers is at the front of the design process. Wheeler said, “Smart home tech bleeds seamlessly into what we do.”

The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer is parked by a campfire.
The Airstream Basecamp travel trailer | Airstream

Wheeler is trying to be very clear that while Airstream is dedicated to the classic look, he wants its customers to have the modern conveniences that they would expect from any other modern camper. “We want to be just ahead of the curve. We don’t want people to pay for something they don’t want to use,” Wheeler says. 

Don’t let all the chrome fool you…

The Smart Control app, while not new, has been a major player in changing the way people interact with their Airstream campers. Wheeler mentions that the Smart Control app perfectly fits into the Airstream’s Multiplex control system allowing full control over the camper with your smartphone. Features like climate control, the retractable awning, lighting, and resource levels are all at thumbs reach. 

Wheeler also tells Gear Patrol, “What’s new will be the ability to link this system to the cloud so that you can understand, control, and monitor your Airstream from anywhere.” So, what does this mean exactly? Well, as Wheeler mentions, if you find yourself out and about away from your camper, doing camping activities like hiking, your Airstream can send alerts to your phone warning you of a coming storm. This will allow you to tell your camper to batten down the hatches by closing the awning or crank op the heat if the temperature drops. 

An Airstream travel trailer with a solar panel kit
An Airstream travel trailer | Robert Alexander/Getty Images

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The AI system can also monitor your resource levels and alert you when you need more water, propane, or electricity. This system will also help fellow Airstream campers find one another to build a strong community around the iconic campers. Airstream is even working with appliance makers like CES to integrate refrigerators that can tie into the AI monitoring system. This would help to regulate fridge temperatures to keep for fresh and safe longer and more consistently. 

How does Airstream work with EVs?

Airstream has worked closely with GM for a long time but is eager to form relationships within the EV segment. The young, adventure-minded start-up Rivian is surely high on Airstream’s list of companies to work with. “EV sales are rising, though it’ll be a long time before the market saturates,” Wheeler said. “We know our customers are more likely to own an EV, even if they’re not currently using it to tow an Airstream, so how can we offer them something that can be towed by an EV without loss of range or significant battery drain?”

The relationship between tech-savvy campers and EVs will yield a great deal of value to whoever cracks the code. A camper that can sustain EV charging is surely in Airstream’s future. Airstream is even talking about self-parking trailers! Y’all can keep the self-driving cars, but if my Art Deco camper could park itself… shoot. Sign me up.

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