EarthRoamer adds carbon fiber monocoque to beastly off-grid motorhome
EarthRoamer has been impressing crowds for two decades with its heavy-duty, go-anywhere expedition rigs, growing from a novelty builder for preppers and escapists to a well-established name brand of the exploding overland scene. After launching the XV-HD two years ago, the Colorado company is back again with a new model, one it calls the "most advanced EarthRoamer ever." The all-new XV-LTi replaces the LTS that has long served as EarthRoamer's bread and butter, shaving weight and boosting performance via carbon fiber monocoque construction. The carbon fiber won't make the new LTi an efficient "Eco Roamer," or give it sports coupe-like performance, but it will help pull every last mile out of the rumbling diesel V8. And the lithium battery bank, digital control system, standard solar charging and mobile internet will establish temporary civilization where none exists.
When it launched the XV-HD, EarthRoamer also introduced the vacuum-infusion construction that now finds its way to the LT lineup. "All LTi bodies are produced using a Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP) to create and bond two carbon fiber skins to a structural foam core, resulting in a monocoque carbon fiber body that is much stronger and lighter than any traditional RV or overland camper body," EarthRoamer explains.
Extra strength is an obvious advantage when dealing with a motorhome that will be rattling over soccer ball-sized rocks, crawling through fields of low-hanging branches and otherwise exploring areas where no sign of civilized life exists. EarthRoamer also tells us the use of thinner structural carbon fiber allows it to increase insulation while keeping both the interior volume and overall module size the same. The new LTi even gains an extra 2 inches (5 cm) of headroom for 6.8 feet (2.1 m) total around the camper interior.
Weight savings, on the other hand, may not seem to matter much for a rhinoceros of an off-road motorhome, but the lighter carbon design does pay off in this area as well. EarthRoamer estimates a weight savings of 7 percent and fuel economy boost of 5 percent. Given the XV-LTS' estimated 9 to 14 mpg, the LTi is still going to have an appetite for fuel comparable to a Bugatti Chiron (11 mpg), but if we set the LTS fuel economy right in the middle of EarthRoamer's estimate at 11.5 mpg, 5 percent equates to 0.58 mpg, which means you'll get an extra 55 miles (89 km) or so of driving out of the 95 gallons (360 L) of diesel, something that'll come in handy in the backcountry, where it might even mean the difference between getting stranded on a patch of gritty nothing and making it to a dust bowl gas station.
Another helpful advantage when dealing with motorhome weight loss is that it clears more payload, making it capable of carrying extra standard equipment or more cargo. EarthRoamer puts this to use by upping the size of the fresh water tank by 15 gallons for a round 100 gallons (378.5 L) and more than doubling the size of the gray water tank to 60 gallons (227 L).
Finally, EarthRoamer cites a lower center of gravity, better handling, improved braking and acceleration, and less wear on vehicle components as advantages related to weight loss. We're not sure drivers will actually notice the improved handling of a large, lumbering off-road motorhome, but we suppose lower weight and center of gravity never hurt.
Whether those benefits convince buyers that the extra $100K EarthRoamer tacks onto the price tag as compared to the outgoing XV-LTS is worth it remains to be seen, but we're guessing the chance to have a high-tech carbon fiber expedition vehicle will persuade more than a few. Plus, high prices have never seemed to hinder EarthRoamer before — it has built more than 250 vehicles in 21 years, and lead time for an LT is currently eight months, leaping to nearly two years for the $1.7 million XV-HD.
Inside the carbon fiber, EarthRoamer carries over the XV-LTS' five floor plans, each one named for a Colorado town. Specific furniture varies accordingly, but each sleeps three or four people on a combination of queen+ size alcove bed and bunk(s). A rear corner wet bath; kitchen block with induction cooktop, 227L fridge/freezer combo, convection microwave and deep-basin sink; and lounge seating are standard equipment. EarthRoamer has stepped its interior design game up since we first toured one five years ago, and buyers can expect maple and teak furniture and trim, Caesarstone, granite or stainless steel kitchen counters, and a wood or tile kitchen backsplash. An 8,000-BTU air conditioner, 13,600-BTU diesel air heater, diesel hydronic heater, 6-gal (23L) hot water tank, 3G/4G Wi-Fi router with wireless hotspot and roof antenna, hidden biometric safe, and LED lighting are all standard.
The XV-LTi electrical system is based around an 11-kWh lithium-ion battery bank and 1,320-watt solar panel array. It benefits from a new auto-charging system that automatically starts the engine to charge the batteries when they dip to critical level or the current draw runs too high. It also includes a digital touchscreen control/monitoring center, dual inverter/chargers, 120V/12V/USB outlets throughout, and a 30A exterior outlet and inlet.
The XV-LTi module is planted atop a Ford F-550 with 6.7-liter Power Stroke Turbo Diesel V8, 4WD, air ride suspension, 41-in Continental MPT-81 tires on military-grade beadlock wheels, and Lariat-trim crew cab. EarthRoamer cuts out a pass-through to the motorhome and adds in composite fender flares, a 55-gal auxiliary fuel tank (for the 95-gal total), heavy-duty front and rear bumpers with front Warn 16,500-lb winch, LED off-road lighting, a tire pressure monitoring system and other upgrades, all standard.
The XV-LTi is a lot of truck, and it brings along a lot of zeroes. The base price lists in at $590,000, but EarthRoamer reckons many a model will be optioned up somewhere between $650K and $700K. That's definitely not the cheapest way to adventure travel, but it looks damn near wholesale compared to the XV-HD at more than double the price.
Check out the gallery for a look at more XVi exterior photos and sample interior photos from the XV-LTS.