A U.S. startup called Lightship aims to become the Tesla of RV makers with a battery-powered travel trailer.
Founded in 2020, Lightship on Wednesday unveiled the L1, a trailer with an 80-kwh battery pack, which can not only power appliances, but also help propel the trailer. This propulsion system means EVs towing it won’t lose range, and internal-combustion vehicle fuel economy won’t suffer, according to Lightship, which claims in a press release that a 300-mile EV “will remain a 300-mile EV” while towing the L1.
Measuring 27 feet long, 8-feet-6 wide, and 10 feet tall in its maximum-space camping mode, the L1 is also more aerodynamic than a traditional trailer, and can run on battery power for up to a week without charging, according to Lightship. Solar panels can also generate up to 3 kw of power, eliminating the need for propane or gasoline generators, the company claims.
Lightship was founded by former Tesla employees Ben Parker and Toby Kraus, and claims to have veterans of Rivian and Lucid, as well as electric bus maker Proterra and autonomous-driving startup Zoox, in its ranks as well. Parker and Kraus aim to apply the same ethos of these companies to the RV market.
“Lightship is taking a clean-sheet approach to building an all-electric RV the same way Tesla disrupted the established automakers,” according to the release.
The L1 is definitely Tesla-like in one aspect. Its $125,000 base price is about the same as a loaded Model X Plaid after recent price cuts. Lightship claims the L1 will be eligible for a $6,600 tax credit, and is currently accepting $500 reservations. Production is scheduled to start in late 2024.
RV life with electric vehicles is going to require some new approaches, as real-world range can be cut in half when towing a trailer. Lightship isn’t the only company working on such approaches.
Airstream last year revealed the eStream, with claims that it could potentially boost range (or mpg when pulled by a gasoline vehicle). That builds on the E-Home Caravan built by European motorhome maker Dethleffs, with tech from supplier ZF.
Colorado Teardrops has revealed a different concept—in which the vehicle tows along an extra battery pack in the camper trailer, which is then used to give the EV an extra charge.
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