Grounded makes wildly modular electric smart RV with 250-mile GM Zevo
Electric camper vans are finally arriving in the United States, and they're starting to look like a legitimate option for actual road travel and camping. The Tesla and SpaceX alums at Detroit startup Grounded settled for a measly 108 miles (174 km) with the Ford E-Transit-based G1 camper van they introduced earlier this year, but they were really just biding their time until something more robust was ready to go. That something is the simply named G2, which uses a Zevo 600 electric step van from GM spinoff BrightDrop to offer up to 250 miles (402 km) of range and a modular living area with the floor space of a small apartment.
While electrification presents some formidable challenges to the RV industry (see that 108-mile figure above), it offers some compelling benefits as well. Most notably, many of the electric vans and commercial vehicles we've seen debut so far look like they will make for some of the coolest-looking camper vans since the 1960s and 70s. Even though they were designed for other purposes, many look like they were crafted from the ground up for RVing, offering large, cavernous interiors and futuristic styling that could sell the public on the idea of all-electric van life way sooner than expected.
We're thinking of efforts from the likes of Canoo and Arrival, along with the BrightDrop Zevo series. The lack of need for an engine-housing hood gives the Zevo a cab-forward stance, tall, steep glasshouse and long, level roofline that, to our eyes, meld together far more naturally than the protruding snouts and towering, top-heavy roofs of ICE vans.
The 290-in-long (737-cm) Zevo 600 manages to look clean and stylish while still offering serious RV-ready dimensions. Its roof may look lower and sleeker than the super-ultra-maxi high-roof options on full-size ICE vans, but it still extends over top 6.8 ft (2 m) of interior headroom below. Meanwhile, the 615 sq ft (57 sq m) of floor space given in the press materials looks like a figure in a one-bedroom apartment listing, but we suspect they mean 615 cu ft (17.4 cu m) of living space.
Add in a respectable range of 250 miles and all-wheel drive, and it's no wonder startups have been trampling each other to show the first Zevo 600 camper vans.
A versatile base vehicle demands a versatile camping space, and Grounded sees itself more as the innovator behind a modular camper ecosystem than a converter of any one van product or series of products. Its modular design makes the trip from G1, to AT, to G2, this time starting with a full set of tie-down tracks running the length of the van cabin walls, floor and ceiling. From there, buyers can select from a library of modules to create individualized floor plans that meet their needs, an approach quite similar to the one Dutch shop Van Jorn uses for ICE vans.
Beyond just creating an initial floor plan, G2 owners will be able to shake things up by adding and removing modules to rearrange layouts. At the end of the Zevo 600's lifecycle, they should even be able to pull the modules out and install them into a new vehicle, assuming they didn't grind down with the wear and tear of road travel.
"Over time, as your life changes and your use cases change, the vehicle can change with you," explained Grounded CEO Sam Shapiro. "Customers can replace the modules themselves by removing some fasteners, taking out one module, and inserting a new one."
Module options are set to include a queen bed, seats for up to seven people, a pull-out table/workstation, and an electric-driven kitchen block with induction cooktop. Grounded augments the high-capacity 165-kWh BrightDrop traction battery with a 10-kWh leisure battery charged off the vehicle and via 640 watts of rooftop solar.
To keep things lean, green and clean, Grounded builds its furniture out of KoskiDecor Eco Transparent, a decorative Baltic birch plywood finished with a translucent melamine coating. The company offers 11 different color options, and while we're not sure that shade of green was the most flattering choice for debut, we suppose it does support the eco-friendly messaging.
Grounded ensures the G2 interior is as cutting-edge as the vehicular platform that surrounds it by equipping the space with a smart home control system that ties all onboard electronics into an app-based control and monitoring system. It also adds Starlink satellite internet for on-the-go connectivity from anywhere.
The finalized floor plan will ultimately be up to each buyer, but Grounded highlights the Zevo's size and length in its sample floor plan, installing a long, open-counter kitchen across from a wide closet. Even with those extended fixtures, it still has room to sandwich in a dual-bench dinette with foldaway table just in front of the rear transverse double bed. There's no hint of a bathroom, but there is an outdoor shower, and planned options include a wet bathroom and water heating.
The G2 order books open on Wednesday, with pricing starting at US$187,500, after federal tax credit. A $1,00 refundable deposit is required at the time of order. Grounded plans to begin deliveries before the end of 2023.
Source: Grounded RVs