RV chassis builder, AL-KO, is hard at work on its own electric-driven frame. Instead of leaving out the motorized RV segment, it’s also developing an electrified motorhome chassis that creates a plug-in hybrid motorhome.
This story by C.C. Wiss originally appeared in New Atlas.
Dethleffs and OzXcorp are working on electrified trailers in Europe and Australia, respectively, and recent reports indicate that Airstream, a THOR Industries, cousin of Dethleffs, is interested in bringing the tech over to the US. Meanwhile, Germany’s AL-KO Vehicle Technology is working with Huber Automotive to develop its own smart hardware and control software package to make the self-powering trailer a viable reality. The work could have global implications because AL-KO merged with U.S.-based Dexter in 2015 to create DexKo Global.
After noting that towing a camper can drop an electric vehicle’s range by 70 percent, AL-KO got to work on the Next Generation Caravan Platform (NGCP) to help boost that range or cut emissions. The prototype tech works with caravans up to 7,000 pounds, featuring a 48-volt electric axle drive and 10- to 30-kilowatt battery pack integrated into the structure of the trailer chassis.
The system is loaded with sensors, allowing it to adjust e-drive output around driving conditions so the trailer can push part of its own weight and use torque vectoring to improve stability and prevent snaking.
At home and camp, the NGCP system allows the owner to step outside of the tow vehicle, unhitch the trailer and remotely drive the trailer using a smartphone app. Users can slow-roll the trailer out of the garage and line it up with the tow vehicle for hitching and later unhitch and remotely maneuver it onto the RV pad at camp.
The NGCP battery is meant to be scalable for use with various size trailers and charges via an exterior plug and brake recuperation. The latter helps not only in charging the battery but also in trailer self-braking during steep descents. The battery also doubles as an off-grid camp power source for equipment like electric refrigerators, lighting and cooktops.