Vision Vehicle fuel cell electric RV is a 300-mile wheeled smart home
This year’s Florida RV SuperShow is a big release party for America’s electrified motorhome technology. Winnebago has already showcased its first electric motorhome, and America’s biggest motorhome brand has showcased its own plans. With the Vision Vehicle, Thor Industries goes beyond the limited ranges of all-electric motorhomes with a fuel cell hybrid drive that offers up to 300 miles. The oversized Class B+ motorhome concept also incorporates smooth lines, lightweight materials and a high-tech user interface into the mix, offering an early glimpse of the seamless RV of the future.
If you had told us yesterday that the Winnebago e-RV had a range of 300 miles, we would have been among the first to sign the pre-order list if they offered one (they didn’t). But at 125 miles (201 km), the concept was clearly just a very first step towards an electric motorhome that could debut at some point in the future.
Thor took a different direction with its Vision Vehicle, offering a more robust lineup from the start. It achieves this by teaming up with aftermarket specialist Ford Roush on an extended-range, chassis-integrated electric configuration that combines a high-capacity battery with a fuel cell, for a combined range of 300 miles (483 km). It won’t be enough for all types of RVers or road trip enthusiasts, but it’s certainly sturdy enough for many RV owners and potential owners. Thor says the 300 miles is within the nonstop travel distance of most motorhome drivers, and given that that’s five hours at an average speed of 60 mph (96.5 km/h), that seems quite plausible.
To help it hit that mileage, the Vision Vehicle uses aerodynamic measures such as the lightly sculpted roofline above the cabin of its chassis-mounted B+ motorhome module, covered wheels and cameras. elegant sides. Thor also mixed in the lightest materials possible to help save weight on the large Ford Transit-based design.
“Our team has conducted a massive amount of research aimed at understanding the impact of design elements on range extension, including unit aerodynamics,” said Todd Woelfer, Thor COO. “Our strategy to create a unique electric experience tailored specifically for RV users has identified a number of product improvement opportunities that we can and will implement long before industrializing electrified units.”
Thor isn’t the first to explore the possibility of a fuel cell motorhome, as Mercedes-Benz did the same in 2018, and Knaus-Tabbert also mentioned the possibility when presenting his concept for Wankel extended motorhome last August. Thor has taken its concept one step further, however, offering a complete off-grid camping and drive power management system accessible via the large infotainment screen in the cabin, the touchscreen command center on the inside the sliding door and even the pop-up TV.
The system keeps up-to-date information on remaining power and local charging points at the owner’s fingertips and provides local information so they can utilize their free time while the vehicle is charging. The larger infotainment system also offers smartphone-based push-to-camper route planning with local points of interest, digital checklists, full control of living space amenities like lighting and heating, and a digital dashboard with navigation.
From the gentle curves of its B+ hull to the sleek, rounded nature of its interior furnishings, the Thor Vision vehicle clearly borrows from Thor subsidiary Hymer’s impressive 2019 VisionVenture concept, but with a simpler, more direct layout. The Vision Vehicle’s expanding interior looks set to attract both modern recreational RVers and full-time digital nomads.
The large tablet-style touchscreen command center is joined by an Alexa-powered voice control system to easily operate in-car systems such as media and lighting. There is also a television hidden on an electric lift built into the long counter in front of the driver’s side sofa. Above, long, thin solar panels flank a skylight that lets in plenty of natural light.
On arrival, a driver-side sliding wall module adds some serious elbow room, while digital slider-controlled adjustable tint windows provide privacy. Thor didn’t show the entire floor plan in detail or provide an equipment list, but what we can glean from the video clips is that it’s a forward berth with an extendable sofa bed. The kitchen includes a microwave and refrigerator across from the main counter with what looks like an induction cook top and a sink. The rear houses a dry bathroom with a toilet room and a separate shower.
The loading area is separated from the living area by a rear wall. Open the double doors and you step into a sporting goods store quality equipment organizer garage lined with rails for adjustable shelves, baskets, hooks and racks.
It seems that a motorhome with this size and technology should have a second bed, but it’s a concept, so it doesn’t have to be practical. We imagine a production version would include at least one floor plan option with two beds.
Speaking of a production version… well, there won’t be, not anytime soon, at least. The Vision Vehicle is more of a visible first step in Thor’s roadmap towards future electrification and technology integration. Perhaps, as we saw with Hymer’s VisionVenture, some elements of it could find their way into future Thor designs and products long before an electrified Thor RV rolls out.
The two-minute video clip gives a good overview of the features of the Thor Vision vehicle and how they will contribute to a smoother road and camping experience in the future.
Discover the Adventure. Electrified. with the THOR Vision vehicle concept
Source: Thor Industries