A startup called Lightship is modernizing RVs into the 21st Century, as the industry has long been stagnated by a lack of advancement in not only technology but design. The company’s founders, who both started their careers at Tesla, have brought a new mentality to the RV sector that is geared toward sustainability, efficiency, and modernization.
Ben Parker and Toby Kraus believed RVs needed to be revolutionized by pushing them in the direction of what the automotive industry is: forward and with a mentality of sustainability.
Parker said that during his days at Tesla, he was confused as to why the line of food trucks at the company’s then-headquarters in Palo Alto was positioned next to one another for the fumes of diesel and propane generators to leak into the area where food was prepared and served.
“Inefficient, unreliable product designs and power experience that relies on smelly, noisy gas or propane generators fundamentally hinder the amazing experience of traveling in the outdoors,” Parker said.
Lightship’s initial RV design is called the L1, and they label it the “first purpose-built all-electric RV.” Like most EVs, it has a significant focus on aerodynamics and efficiency, and the design was one of the most important metrics of this initial project.
The L1 is three times as aerodynamic as a traditional RV and helps contribute to greater efficiency and range. Trucks with 300-mile range ratings will have 300-mile range ratings whether they are pulling the L1 or not, and the same goes for gas trucks with MPG ratings of 25 MPG, for instance.
It also features an electric powertrain with up to 80 kWh of onboard battery capacity, which allows the trailer to propel itself and further contribute to the near-zero range and efficiency loss for the pulling vehicle, whether gas or electric.
Furthermore, the living experience in the L1 is unlike any RV on the market. It has a battery energy storage system that is coupled with up to 3 kW of solar power, and can operate completely off-grid for an entire week.
All-electric appliances, connected features, and modern amenities fill out the interior of the L1, which Parker and Kraus said was fully designed with a modern twist while also offering some customization.
The ultimate goal of Lightship is to bring towable RVs into flow with the vehicles of today. RVs are a sizeable industry within the United States, with 1 in 10 families owning one. It’s just the innovation that has been missing.
“With 90% of the market comprising of towable RVs, we began by creating an all-electric travel trailer that is unlike any RV available today and that is just the beginning,” Kraus said. “We are leveraging our expertise in automotive EV development and design to build a brand that creates delightful outdoor travel experiences for everyone and brings even more people into the pastime of RVing.”
The Lightship L1 is 27 feet long and 8-and-a-half feet wide and can weigh up to 7,500 pounds when fully loaded. It can comfortably sleep 4-6 people, depending on the configuration chosen, and features a variety of modes based on what the current application is, meaning Road Mode for travel time and Camp Mode when occupants finally arrive at their campground.
A starting price of $125,000 for the L1 can be brought down to $118,400 after available tax credits and can be reserved with a $500 deposit. Production is expected to begin in late 2024.
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