At the Florida RV SuperShow held in Tampa this past January, Airstream unveiled a concept travel trailer called the eStream. Equipped with its own onboard electric motors, the camper improves the range of gas-powered and electric tow vehicles while driving to the campsite. The electric RV’s battery packs can also be used to power appliances and HVAC systems, even while traveling off the grid.
Airstream didn’t share many details beyond that, however, leaving many to wonder about the travel trailer’s other features. Since last month’s reveal, the company has provided further insights into what to expect from the eStream or the eventual production models based on its design. As it turns out, there is a lot to get excited about.
A Concept Trailer
One thing that Airstream has made clear is that the eStream is a concept vehicle that isn’t likely to go into production any time soon. The company built the prototype travel trailer shown in Tampa to test new technologies and innovative ideas while jumpstarting the conversation surrounding electric RVs.
“What the eStream represents for Airstream is a peek into our future,” company president and CEO Bob Wheeler says in the video above. “We needed to create a vehicle that put a stake out there. Something to shoot for, something to aspire to—that represents for us the way to support a more sustainable way to go RVing.”
The eStream is an opportunity for Airstream’s designers and engineers to explore what is possible with current technology and construction materials. The RV manufacturer can then take what it learns from building the concept trailer and potentially apply it to production models at a future time. Those models may resemble the eStream in many ways, but they could be radically different as well.
Built for Boondocking
Thanks to its large-scale lithium-ion battery packs, the eStream promises to offer unprecedented performance while boondocking. The trailer is equipped with an 80-kilowatt hour power bank, giving it 30 times more capacity than any other RV that Airstream has ever built. It also features a 900-watt solar panel, which is twice the current capacity of any other Airstream trailer. And to increase efficiency even further, the solar cells can generate power while parked at the campsite or when moving.
Airstream says that the eStream’s batteries and solar panels allow it to function as if it were plugged into shore power, even while at a remote location without electrical hookups. The travel trailer can run all of its appliances and HVAC systems for up to two weeks without the need to recharge its built-in power cells. And since it doesn’t use a gas-powered generator, the RV is completely quiet and creates zero emissions.
Those same high-capacity battery packs can also serve as a secondary power source for other electrical vehicles or even a house. Should the need arise, the eStream can recharge an EV that doesn’t have enough juice to reach the next charging station. And should your home lose power during a storm, the electric travel trailer can supply it with electricity.
Airstream says the eStream’s electric motors improve its towing vehicle’s gas mileage or electric range by as much as 50-75%. While that won’t eliminate range anxiety altogether, it should allow RVers to travel further without having to stop to refill the tank or recharge the batteries on an EV.
Additionally, the 22-foot eStream’s design reportedly reduces drag by 20% compared to a traditional trailer. Airstream removed the RV’s air conditioning unit and moved it inside the frame to achieve those gains, creating a completely smooth roof in the process. The vehicle is also eight inches narrower than similar models, although it still sleeps four comfortably.
The electric motors also allow the eStream to be parked using a remote control app on a smartphone or tablet. The trailer can be moved and maneuvered using a single finger, eliminating the need for a tow vehicle. This is something that simply isn’t possible on a conventional travel trailer and could come in handy not only at the campground but at a recharging station.
More High-Tech Features
While just a concept, the eStream does offer a tantalizing look at other features that could be included on future electric RVs. For instance, it has an anti-theft mode that locks the wheels in place, making it nearly impossible to steal. The electric motors also come with an electronic stability control system that can independently apply torque to the wheels, helping to provide traction and reduce sway.
Other tech features include support for current and future Class 2 and 3 charging stations, built-in support for Amazon Alexa, and an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot. Those are all excellent quality-of-life additions to any RV, but it is nice to see that Airstream is considering including them on future models.
For further information on the eStream concept trailer, check out the video above and visit the Airstream website.