Winnebago eRV2 electric camper van powers toward "eVanlife"
Winnebago plans to kick off 2023 exactly how it kicked off 2022, revealing its latest all-electric camper van prototype. A follow-up to last year's e-RV, the new van naturally becomes the eRV2 and will serve as a very tangible update of Winnebago's electric camper development program. Among its revisions, the eRV2 has a shorter, sportier profile and a relocated charging port that hints at an overhauled powertrain.
As it did last year, Winnebago will reveal its prototype EV at the Florida RV SuperShow. While the eRV2 remains a prototype, Winnebago has gotten it far enough along in development to feel comfortable offering a limited number of test drives during the show, which runs from January 18 to 22.
The first change that immediately pops out is the charging port integrated in the eRV2 grille rather than behind the driver's side door as on the original e-RV. That, coupled with a charger that wears a Ford badge (in the video, not teaser photos), suggests the latest van comes built atop a factory Ford e-Transit rather than a Lightning eMotors conversion Transit.
The switchover to a factory E-Transit could streamline things for Winnebago, but it would come with a significant hit to driving range. Ford estimates a meager 108-mile (174-km) range for an E-Transit cargo van with high roof, a step down from the eRV1's already low 125-mile (201-km) range estimate. The original eRV relied on Lightning's 86-kWh battery pack, while Ford equips the E-Transit with a smaller 68-kWh pack. Lightning eMotors also offers a larger 120-kWh battery with up to 200 miles (322 km) of range.
If in fact the eRV2 is based on a Ford e-Transit with factory 68-kWh battery pack, Winnebago might be able to make up for some of the battery downsizing with an onboard leisure battery and solar charging setup. Last year's prototype relied solely on the powertrain battery to power onboard camper equipment like the induction cooktop, refrigerator and roof-mounted air conditioner and did not carry a solar charging system.
Some of the first eRV2 images show what appears to be a solar array fit neatly to the front of the roof above the windshield. RV solar panels tend to be used to power the auxiliary batteries, not the vehicle traction battery, so it seems likely these panels would charge an onboard leisure battery to power camper equipment, reserving the Ford battery power for driving. Still, without any type of range-extending solution for the primary battery, 108 miles is 108 miles – a far cry from a long road trip without constant charging stops.
The eRV2 appears to be based on a shorter Transit than the original e-RV. Both versions share a 148-in wheelbase, but the eRV2 has a noticeably shorter rear overhang and side window, suggesting it's riding on a Transit Long rather than Extended chassis.
Winnebago is holding back the rest of the details for the full January 18 debut, but you can see a little more of the camouflaged prototype in the quick clip below.