Camping in a travel trailer is a popular pastime for many families across the United States. The classic Airstream trailer is an icon that epitomizes the open road, taking camping from rustic to glamorous. However, an electric Airstream concept vehicle dubbed the Airstream eStream could provide more effortless towing, improved range, and automated trailer parking to make camping more accessible and allow more families to join in the fun.
The benefits of an all-electric Airstream
An article by MotorTrend points out that travel trailers often carry an onboard 12-volt electrical system powered by an 80-amp hour flooded lead-acid (FLA) deep-cycle marine battery, which allows functional usage of necessities during off-grid camping. The 12-volt system powers fans, lights, and circuit boards that enable refrigerators, furnaces, and water heaters to operate using onboard propane. Plugging into “shore power,” supplied by the electric grid or a generator provides 120-volt alternating current to power air conditioners, televisions, and charge batteries.
Airstream trailer owners who prefer to camp off-grid, sometimes referred to as boondocking or dry camping, for more than just a couple of days often upgrade their trailer battery bank. This upgrade frequently includes switching from a standard FLA battery to lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries for increased storage of usable electrical energy. However, the electric Airstream eStream concept trailer far exceeds any simple battery upgrade imaginable.
What are the features of the Airstream eStream?
The Airstream eStream concept travel trailer introduces a new concept in travel trailer capability while still maintaining Airstream’s legendary aerodynamics, craftsmanship, and luxury. At the heart of what Airstream calls its “most technologically advanced travel trailer” is a high-voltage electric vehicle (EV) lithium battery bank located in the 22-foot trailer’s chassis. The eStream employs a rooftop solar array designed to recharge the high-capacity battery bank while off-grid, and the trailer can charge at EV charging stations or from a standard outlet at home or in a campground.
This new battery technology provides enough power to support three modes that Airstream feels are important to those camping in travel trailers:
Travel trailers allow people to take their homes with them when they go camping. With its substantial power storage and solar charging capabilities, the Airstream eStream will enable campers to bring their homes off-grid for extended periods without needing a generator.
In addition to the EV battery bank, Airstream integrated a powertrain into the eStream’s chassis, allowing it to assist the tow vehicle for extended towing range and active sway control. Dual drive motors and advanced sensors work together to enable the eStream to help carry its weight, increasing fuel economy in tow vehicles with internal combustion engines or extending the range when towing with an EV. The same system also monitors sway induced by crosswinds, passing cars, or variations in the road surface. It actively adjusts torque from side to side to keep the trailer towing in line with the tow vehicle.
When disconnected from the tow vehicle, the Airstream eStream becomes a remote-controlled vehicle capable of moving under its own power. The eStream utilizes its onboard batteries, drive system, and advanced sensor system to allow independent operation. The ability to remotely operate the trailer enables easy access into tight spaces such as EV charging stations, back-in campsites, and parking in cramped storage areas.
When will the Airstream eStream be available?
According to Airstream, the eStream is a concept vehicle meant as a testbed to prove the technology and gauge consumer interest in the included features. As such, there is no intent to make the eStream available to the public in its entirety. However, Airstream plans to incorporate many of the most popular features into future Airstream products.