The 3 Best Campers For EVs
With many major manufacturers and startups planning on releasing electric trucks, and even an electric Hummer, many people are thinking about the prospect of towing their camper with an electric vehicle. EVs on the market like Tesla Model Xs are already being fitted to tow everything from smaller travel trailers to heavier Airstream trailers.
The biggest drawback to towing with an electric vehicle isn’t the power, the torque, or the handling. Electric vehicles actually do very well by all of those metrics. The range drop, however, can be quite significant. One couple traveled 7,700 miles on a 45-day trip around the southeastern U.S. in a Tesla Model X 100D towing a 3,800 pound 2017 R-Pod 180. They said the small trailer cut their driving range down 45 to 60 percent depending on driving conditions.
So those planning on towing with their electric vehicles at this time should know that they will have to stop for a charge every four hours or so. The prospect of relying on the existing charging infrastructure can cause some RV fuel anxiety. However, charging your electric vehicle is becoming increasingly easy as technology advances and charging infrastructure grows around the country.
According to EVadoption.com, “As of December 31, 2020, there were a total of 96,536 public charging ports – including Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast chargers. With 30,451 locations, the average ports per location across all charger types was 3.16.”
Two main factors contribute to the drop in electric vehicle range while towing–weight and aerodynamics. The following are some of the best campers for EVs that are aerodynamic and lightweight, but still manage to pack many of the features RVers need and want. You’ll also get to read about Airstream’s latest answer to the electric vehicle towing market.
Best Teardrop Campers For EVs
P17A from Polydrops
This new “teardrop” trailer doesn’t look like a typical teardrop. That’s because it was designed with EVs and aerodynamics in mind. It has a battery-operated complete HVAC system (Heater, Vent Fan, Air Conditioner), heater, fridge, and induction cooktop.
It’s equipped with up to 520-watt rated solar panels and 12kWh of power storage in its LiFePO4 batteries. The company claims that it has the battery power to run all the components for 6 nights. The trailer can be plugged into a 110V outlet for charging.
It has an aluminum frame and 8.7” of insulation, providing an R-value of R-14. It has an independent suspension to provide a smooth ride, and the underbody is engineered with aerodynamic features that reduce rolling resistance. The dry weight is 1,200 lbs.
Other features include:
- LED interior lighting
- Open galley
- Storage module
- Micro closet with clothes bar
- 12V outlet
- 2 x USB charging ports
- 110V outlet with USB charging ports
One of the neat things about this trailer is they actually tested it with an electric vehicle. The stats from their drive tests with a 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range with 18″ stock wheels can be found on their site. Their road tests gave an average range of 251 miles which is only around a 20 percent decrease from the Model 3’s normal 310-mile range.
If you are looking for a teardrop camper to tow behind your EV, the Polydrops P17A is the way to go. It was designed for them. Check out their site or the video below to learn more.
Best Full-Size Campers For EVs
Teardrop trailers are excellent for a short trip, and the Polydrops trailer packs a lot in a small space. But some like having all the amenities of a full-size camper like a shower and toilet. Being able to stand up in it is a plus too. The Alto F1743 by Safari Condo has those amenities and more.
Alto F1743 by Safari Condo
The 17-foot long Safari Condo Alto F1743 sleeps 3 to 4 people. You will notice a similar shape to teardrop trailers right away. The difference is with a height of almost 8 feet, you can stand up in this featherweight trailer. The curved design of the front helps make the trailer more aerodynamic, scoring points for EV towing. Its dry weight is 1,765 lbs, making it easily towable by several electric vehicles on the market.
“My wife and I love our Alto. As the Supercharger network expands, towing with a Tesla is just getting easier. It, of course, takes planning, and for that, the EV-TO app is invaluable. Have made many multi-day trips with the trailer over the past year, including a trip to New Mexico last fall. Currently on our way to Arizona with trailer in tow.” Barry said.
Other notable features of the Alto F1743 are:
- Galvanized steel axle with Flexiride independent suspension
- 60″ X 81″ Queen size bed that could be permanent
- 36″ X 81″ front single bed
- Two-burner LPG flush mount stove
- Space and water heater combined in one ultra-quiet appliance. German design. Works on LPG and electric
- LPG and 120V fridge
- LED lighting
- 60 L (15.8-gallon) freshwater tank
- 60 L (15.8-gallon) grey water tank
- 46 L (12-gallon) black water tank
A built-in microwave oven, lithium batteries, and solar panel packages with a pure sine wave inverter are among the many upgrade options for this travel trailer as well. Overall it is a great lightweight and aerodynamic camper with all the bells and whistles of a typical fully stocked travel trailer. It will travel nicely behind a properly outfitted electric vehicle.
Top Family Campers For EVs
Searching for a camper under 4,000 lbs dry weight with at least a hint of aerodynamic design that also sleeps up to 6 people is not an easy task. When it came to a family camper that would work well for electric vehicles, Canada-based Safari Condo again took the win.
Alto Series F2414
An optional bed lowered from the ceiling allows the F2414 to sleep six people. Yet it manages to have a dry weight under 3,000 pounds. The GVWR of this camper clocks in at 4,500 lbs, so fully loaded it is still towable by EVs like the Tesla Model X. The camper was designed with aerodynamics in mind, from the trailer’s curved shape to the holding tanks that have a streamlined design.
It has a separate shower and fixed toilet with a 26-gallon fresh water capacity, a 23-gallon grey water tank, and a 14-gallon black tank. All of the materials such as aluminum, Alufiber, plastic, Formica, and glass were selected with lightweight and waterproofness in mind. It has a Flexiride Independent suspension system that provides a low center of gravity for a stable towing experience.
Another great feature of Alto trailers is they are all delivered direct from the factory and made to order. This allows them to adjust the suspension height to your specifications. This can come in handy when setting up a tow package for an EV.
Other notable features of the Alto F2414 are:
- LPG two-burner flush mount stove
- A movable front table that can be attached outside
- Ultra-quiet Combi Eco Plus combined space and water heater that works on LPG and electricity.
- LPG built-in 3-way fridge, 120 V, and 12 V
- LED lighting
- Probeless tank level indicator
- Optional flexible solar panels available in 110, 220, or 440 watts with MPPT charge controller
- Optional Lithium self-heating Bluetooth battery(ies)
Overall this camper is built for aerodynamics, is one of the lightest 24-foot campers for EVs on the market, has enough room for the whole family, and starts at 53,619 $ CAD. That works out to about $42,367 US. You can take a closer look at this camper here.
The future of EV towing
Currently, the EV market is dominated by cars. They aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think of towing RVs. That isn’t always going to be the case.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, most car manufacturers will be releasing electric trucks, SUVs, and even Hummers in the next couple of years. Just because you make an electric vehicle that looks like a truck doesn’t mean the issues with range are going to just disappear.
Towing with electric vehicles isn’t just a problem that is going to be solved by the vehicle manufacturing industry. The RV industry is already seeing a need to build better aerodynamic campers, use lighter-weight materials, and some are thinking a little further outside the box.
German company Dethleffs has created the e.home Coco, a camper that houses a whopping 80 kWh battery pack that doesn’t just power the trailer. The battery is attached to electric motors on the wheels allowing the trailer to move on its own or assist with towing.
“e.home Coco invalidates the fundamental rules for caravans that have been in force for decades,” Dethleff says. “They are no longer just being towed behind a vehicle and are instead propelling themselves. This reduces the load of the towing vehicle, which also makes longer ranges practical when an electric car is used for towing.”
As of late 2019, the company was still running tests. The model is not available to the public yet, in Germany or otherwise. There are many legal hurdles to overcome before they can produce the e.home Coco for the masses.
Before electric-assisted trailers become mainstream, the software and hardware to pull off such a feat will have to become standard. Currently, the standard trailer hookups don’t really have the kind of interfacing required to sync a trailer’s drive system to your car. That mainstream adoption may be coming sooner than you think, though.
Anyone who has been within 100 miles of the travel trailer industry knows of Airstream. Their shiny retro exteriors have been a mainstay of the company’s products. The tech that goes into them, however, is not as retro as they look. Recently Green Car Reports reported that Airstream is working on producing an electric-assisted travel trailer intended for EV use.
When asked, McKay Featherstone, Airstream’s vice president of product development, said, “This idea is moving beyond the concept phase, and the path to an EV trailer is becoming much more clear. Stay tuned.”
Airstream is definitely a few years out from getting anything like this to production for the same reasons the e.home Coco isn’t hitting the road en mass yet. So while this is exciting news for those who love EVs, we will have to see how the new electric trucks perform.
The list above is by no means the ONLY campers for EVs. They do, however, tick many of the boxes that EV owners look for in a camper. As long as you have the appropriate tow package installed and you aren’t pulling over your vehicle’s tow rating, you are probably good to go. If you want the best range, stick with finding the most lightweight and aerodynamic campers out there.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.