I’ve always loved the look of an Airstream with their sleek and simple design and a touch of glamour thrown in, so I was dying to have a good look at one when I saw it on display at a caravan and camping show a couple of years ago. In some recent media I read about Airstream’s latest innovation and it interested me enough to do a little more research.
The company’s latest creation is a fully electric concept trailer that is the collaborative brain child of multiple engineers, scientists, suppliers, and creative individuals, all brought together to create something that paves the way for the future.
Before you say ‘it will never work’ just think back to the first cars, planes, ships etc… to see how far innovation has brought them and how comfortable, capable and completely different looking and mainstream they are today.
The Airstream eStream has been built initially to prove that the technology and the concept is possible, and to see whether the hardware and software actually work in real situations and what the public reaction to it will be.
At the moment this concept trailer has a full EV chassis platform with large scale lithium batteries that allow the vehicle to power itself. It was designed with three purposes in mind, which were how people want to live in them and use them, driving mode and how it tows, and mover mode which enables remote controlled movability of the trailer when it’s unhitched – no more reversing into tight spots!
The living mode is all about extending the power to enable longer off grid capability while still having all the comforts of home. When it comes to the driving mode, the trailer has its own powertrain so apart from the standard towing ball everything behind that has been re-engineered. A sensor measures the forces between the tow vehicle and the trailer to maintain stability with an electronic stability control system, and the powered wheels in the trailer help in times of low traction acting as another set of drive wheels.
When it comes to charging the Airstream, the developers have thought through all the questions about that too. This concept airstream is 22 foot which enables it to fit into a standard EV parking spot, and of course having access to regular powered sites in caravan parks and campgrounds will also charge it up. Automotive technology was deliberately chosen because of its world class charging capabilities which means the high voltage systems in the eStream allow the vehicle to be charged faster.
Sustainable travel is at the forefront of the thinking behind this concept trailer, whether you tow it with an electric tow vehicle or a traditional vehicle. Towing it will take less energy and therefore extend the range of the tow vehicle by reducing fuel consumption. This means it could also make real differences with current vehicles.
As you’d expect digital technology has been heavily used in the eStream with functions like using voice activated technology to literally ask troubleshooting questions. I know you’re probably thinking exactly what I am with this…that’s all fine if you have Wi Fi connectivity and in Australia that’s not always the case, but this vehicle has its own integrated Wi Fi hotspot. It also has entire rooftop solar which with the high voltage batteries means you can power all the electric appliances inside.
The interior of the concept trailer is very modern and sleek looking too, with all the comforts you need and want, including a bathroom and toilet onboard.
I love that Airstream and their parent company THOR Industries, are seriously trying to create a practical vehicle here and aren’t just doing this for tech sake, but are actually trying to deliver solutions that can be used and sought after by customers.
THOR Industries is an American company and the world’s largest manufacturer of RVs. It’s the parent company of a number of North American manufacturers, including Airstream and Jayco. They also have European caravan manufacturers amongst their group of companies.
As with any new invention or technology, it has to start somewhere and personally I think it’s exciting to think that this kind of technology will encourage other creators to jump in and be innovative. Hopefully one day, these types of vehicles may be available in the mainstream market or at least the technology will become standard in other caravans.
It’s so encouraging that some people out there are trying to find solutions and come up with ideas to try, rather than just shouting down the possibilities.
More information on the Airstream eStream can be found on their website HERE.
Happy (sustainable) trails