Electric commercial vehicles are becoming more and more attractive to business owners who are looking to save money on fuel and maintenance costs, and these days more manufacturers are looking to get into the game, even Winnebago.
Yes, the very same Winnebago that has been enchanting Americans on cross-country trips for decades is getting ready to start releasing electric versions of its commercial vehicle platforms in partnership with a company called Motiv Power Systems. You might be struggling to picture a commercial Winnebago, but they are extremely popular platforms for bookmobiles, bloodmobiles (aka mobile blood donation centers) and mobile medical units.
One of the biggest challenges that has faced the development of electric commercial vehicles is the range limitation and time to charge that they require, but something like a mobile blood donation vehicle actually presents a fairly ideal use case. It can go where it needs to go, likely a short distance within a city, park and plug into a wall outlet to charge while the vehicle is doing its thing.
"Winnebago sees first-mover customers for this new electric option in its specialty vehicles segment, such as mobile medical units, bloodmobiles, bookmobiles, and the like. We anticipate supporting customers seeking an electric RV sometime in the future," said Ashis Bhattacharya, Winnebago's vice president of strategic planning and development, and leader of the Specialty Vehicles division.
The Motiv Power Systems EPIC chassis on which these new electric Winnebagos will be built is based on a Ford F53 commercial chassis and fits handily under a standard Winnebago Class A motorhome shell that uses Winnebago's interlocking SuperStructure interior architecture. This architecture provides maximum flexibility with a minimum amount of interior structure, allowing customers to outfit the vehicle to their needs.
"Motiv's EPIC all-electric chassis, paired with Winnebago Industries' highly regarded commercial shell, is the perfect fit for end-users who seek reliable performance and functionality," said Jim Castelaz, Motiv CEO & founder. "We are excited to collaborate with Winnebago Industries as we work together to grow the electric commercial vehicle market."
The press release from Winnebago and Motiv Power Systems was light on detail regarding battery size, range, power, charging capabilities and so forth, but given the amount of room that a Class A motorhome chassis has, we'd expect everything to be more than adequate.
Winnebago has also kept deliberately mum on the possibility of using this partnership to create fully electric recreational vehicles for noncommercial customers, so don't expect to start your great American silent road trip anytime soon, but the idea definitely has appeal.