New technologies have transformed electric campers from a pipe dream into something that’s actually happening. We’ve seen concept campers covered in solar panels, a Winnebago-designed electric commercial RV, and new tech for an electrified trailer that makes it possible for the smallest of cars to pull it. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
But here in the U.S., enthusiasm for electric campers and RVs has been dampened by the reality of long-haul travel. It’s been especially unrealistic to imagine taking an electric camper off-the-grid, where you need to travel much further than 150 miles before a charge and where four-wheel drive is preferred.
The American electric automotive startup Rivian is hoping to change these perceptions. On the heels of their 2018 debut, the company recently showed an all-electric truck camper called the R1T at Overland Expo West, the go-to annual event for off-road camping. This was the first time that an electric vehicle has shown at the overlanding event, and it caught the eyes of the crowd. With an estimated 400 mile range, this truck could revolutionize expectations in the camping community.
At the expo, Rivian showed its truck with a Tepui roof-top tent over the bed, mounted to the truck’s cross bar system. And while any truck can have a tent on the top, where the Rivian really impresses is with its custom-designed slide-out kitchen located in front of the rear tire.
The kitchen features a dual-burner induction cooktop that is hooked up to the car’s 180-kWh electric battery. The company says that a week of cooking on the stove and using the truck’s lighting will only deplete the batteries by about 11 percent of total capacity, making off-grid camping a possibility. The kitchen also includes a sink hooked up to a 19-liter water tank, several drawers for storage, and a small countertop work station.
Beyond the cooking capabilities, the Rivian boasts an 11,000-pound tow rating, three-foot wading depth, air compressor, and additional storage in the trunk. One potential problem may be towing if you’re also looking to overland; if you tow the full 11,000 pounds, Rivian says this will cut the truck’s range from 400 miles to 200 miles.
As a startup, Rivian has yet to ramp up production, but deliveries of the truck will begin in late 2020. A base model with a 230-mile range will start at $69,000 while the 400-mile model will be under $90,000. The slide-out kitchen will be available as an option on any model.