SpaceX alums beat RV establishment to first electric camper van in US
Winnebago has shown two different iterations of Ford Transit-based eRV prototypes, but an actual all-electric production camper van available for sale has remained elusive in the American market. That's set to change with a little push from outside the old guard in Elkhart (and Minnesota). Founded just last year by ex-SpaceX and Tesla engineers, Detroit-based Grounded RVs has presented a Ford E-Transit camper van it plans to have ready for delivery in a few weeks' time. More than just a silent, zero-emissions camping coach with loads of solar power, the Grounded G1 is an impressive smart RV with a modular interior design that lets buyers customize their ideal floor plan before heading off on a cleaner style of road trip.
Like recent electric camper van concepts on both sides of the Atlantic, the G1 relies on the Ford E-Transit as its basis. A reason we haven't seen a US-market production E-Transit camper van is because that platform tops out at 126 miles (203 km) per charge. Base your camper on the high-roof version for more headroom and volume, as Grounded does, and that number drops to 108 miles (174 km), a paltry figure when leaving close-knit urban centers for anything resembling the open road.
Grounded is already planning to remedy the problem, and buyers looking for more mileage will want to wait for the 250-mile (402-km) G2 camper it intends to introduce this US summer – sounds like a camper van based on the new Mercedes eSprinter to us, but we'll see. Road trippers who don't mind short excursions or slow, methodical trips with plenty of stops along the way can declare themselves "First!" with the 108-mile G1, available for preorder now.
Grounded uses modularity as the basis of its manufacturing paradigm, offering a full ecosystem of modules and components from which each buyer can shop and build up a floor plan. The company says that this system allows it to offer customized floor plans without the long lead times that fully custom vans often entail.
"We’ve designed a new assembly system that allows us to manufacture customized designs at scale, and our library of components enables a near-infinite amount of layouts," said CEO and founder Sam Shapiro.
In its initial round of photos and renderings, Grounded shows both common and unique layouts among its floor plan possibilities. One floor plan already popular in bathroom-free American custom camper van design places a raised rear bed above and behind a dual-bench dinette. A tabletop slides out from below the bed to create dining space between the benches. The kitchen block sits between the driver's side dinette bench and driver's seat, across from another bench/storage console.
Another floor plan possibility shows a spinoff of the aforementioned rear bed layout, with a dedicated workstation occupying the space usually reserved for the dinette. Other examples show a longitudinal side-sleeper bunk bed layout and a rear bed/mid kitchen design with front bicycle storage.
Grounded doesn't preview any floor plans with a bathroom, but it does mention a dry-flush toilet and an outdoor shower among available options that also include a queen-size bed, convection oven, and seating for between two and eight people.
The G1 runs camp purely on electricity by utilizing equipment like an induction cooktop and electric fridge/freezer. An available 650-W solar system helps keep all the electric appliances running while off-grid. Grounded’s proprietary software, meanwhile, delivers control and monitoring of all hardware. Users can access that information when away from the van via the Grounded+ mobile app.
"Imagine finishing up a cold hike and using your Grounded+ app to start your van and heat up the cabin before you get back," said Shapiro.
Grounded plans to offer the G1 as a limited-edition build. The van starts at US$125,000, and Grounded will also offer it via a $2,300 monthly subscription program, as well as an annual lease agreement. We'd personally hold off to see what Grounded has in store with the 250-mile G2, but we're sure more than a few people will want to get out and live the all-electric all-American van life as soon as possible. Grounded says that it plans to deliver the first G1s in April, mere days or weeks from now.
Source: Grounded RV
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use a liquid piston style motor to hybrid the van.
And one can have an RE fueled generator for extended range.
I've figured out how to make a huge aero solar panel array taking little weight and 3x the roof solar space to run while stopped, charge. And the roof of a screened day room and better sun angles.
And could charge while driving 1/3 of it.
A $899 Predator 3.5kw quiet generator could get you out of an "Oops, too far" place in a day.
Leasing sounds like a real plan, and maybe the price would drop in that time.