EarthRoamer reveals its largest off-road expedition vehicle yet
“That’s cool, but you’re never going to sell one.” It’s a sentiment that EarthRoamer, builder of some of the world's toughest off-road expedition vehicles, has heard many times over the 12 years it's been rolling product out. But it has sold them, 150 of them, in fact. Thecompany is so confident that it will keep selling them that it is now working on an even larger, more expensive 4x4 motorhome. We previously took a look at thebasic specs of the all-new XV-HD expedition vehicle, and after traveling toOverland Expo, we have a few more details about this beastly build, includingits near-seven figure price tag.
We walked up to EarthRoamer’s unveiling event full of hopeand wonder. After exploring every nook of the XV-LTS last year, wecould hardly wait to let our senses loose on the bigger, badder XV-HD.
The large, open patch of mud in front ofEarthRoamer’s booth appeared perfectly primed for the arrival of an XXL camper truck.Things proceeded in orderly fashion, much like an auto show press conference,only outdoors, in cold, thick mud. There were the usual introductions,pleasantries and nuts-and-bolts business talk. The crowd shuffled restlessly, waitingfor the big moment.
Finally. The moment of reveal arrived. No moretalking, just showing. Oddly, no rumble of F-650 V8 or sound of 46-in tires ripping through mud, only the weak whine of winches, barely audiblethrough the too-loud rendition of Europe’s "The Final Countdown" being pumped inover the speakers.
"Ahhh…a powertrain-less prototype, they haven’t actually finished up installing all the drive components," wethought for a split second. Before we had the chance to remember that Ford installs the powertrain before EarthRoamer even takes delivery of the F-650 truck chassis, a large poster inched into view. With each unfurling wrinkle, the realization dawned: no finished XV-HD vehicle, prototype or shell would be gracing us with its presence. We were stuck with a poster of an XV-HD rendering. Sure, it was a big poster, but still ...
After fighting back the urge to hurl the nearest loose chunkof mud on stage, we thought about it and realized what we were witnessing was actuallypretty damn cool, in spite of the lack of tangible vehicle. Thereason we were looking at a poster, not a magnificent cocktail of diesel 4x4and composite living module, was that the design was that new. EarthRoamerdidn’t fall behind schedule and fail to complete a prototype by show time. TheXV-HD was simply so fresh off the drafting table that it hadn't even begun construction of the molds. In fact, as EarthRoamer explained, Ford had not evenstarted production on the 2016 F-650 chassis that the motorhome was designed around.
We're hopeful that the XV-HD will show up at next year’s Overland Expo.EarthRoamer has its first order on the books and plans to beginproduction later this year, after completing its molds over the next severalmonths. And while certain features and options might change between now andthen, the Colorado-based company seems to have a pretty good handle on thedirection it’s going with its largest model.
As we detailed in our first look at the new expeditionvehicle, the XV-HD is a 35-foot (10.7-m) motorhome built on the new Ford F-650 with330-hp 6.7-liter PowerStroke diesel V8. The F-650 gives the HD a bigger,meaner, more industrial face when compared to the friendly, everyday pickuptruck look of the F-550-based XV-LT series.
"We looked at a bunch of different chassis, fromInternational, to Freightliner, to Kenworth, and we came back to Ford,”explained EarthRoamer president and COO Tyler Tatro. “The 2016 [F-650] chassisis pretty impressive. And that powertrain is powerful, it's efficient, and the warranty on it is pretty impressive; they're doing a 250,000-mile, five-year warranty."
"The cab also has a high quality fit and finish, which anyof the other big trucks don’t. The cab height is good for us because we can getthat big bunk over the cab. That’s an important piece of our design; it’s whatsets us apart from all the other builders of high-end trucks like this.”
The chassis won’t come with four-wheel drive, so EarthRoamerwill install its own, ensuring that the HD doesn’t get stuck in the mud – whenit actually comes to life and drives through it. EarthRoamer also plans to makesome other mechanical modifications, such as adding air ride suspension.
With a chassis locked in, EarthRoamer turned its sightsto its bread and butter: the campermodule. As you can see when you compare the new design with the XV-HD renderingwe published last year in our XV-LTS article (also in this article's gallery), the camper design has been reworked from the original XV-HD concept. Tatro and EarthRoamer founder Bill Swails worked with a Forddesigner to develop a cohesive look and flow between camper and F-650cab. This effort shines through in the continuous character lines and window structures.
Like existing EarthRoamers, the cabin will be built fromfiberglass composite. However, EarthRoamer will use a new vacuum infusionconstruction process, different from the way it produces its current XV-LT bodies.
“It gives us more control over the amount of resin that’sput in the body so we can get a higher strength body with less weight," Tatro said. "Theinside of the fiberglass panels, the tolerances are much tighter, so it makesit easier to build in terms of installing the cabinetry and so forth. We can glue wall panels directly to the glass. With our current product we have to install stringers and shim everything. It’ll beeasier to produce than our current body, lighter weight and more precise.”
In addition to the details we already published about thecamper interior and equipment – things like sleeping for up to six people, 200-gal (909 L) fresh watertank and 2.4-kW solar array – EarthRoamer is also considering installing a rearmotorcycle bay. In contrast to the external hydraulic motorcycle lifts from manufacturers like Action Mobil, EarthRoamer is thinking of an internal storage area with ramp.
All that truck comes with all kinds of zeroes. The XV-HDstarts around $950,000 and personalization is sure to push many models up abovethe $1 million mark. While that’s a large chunk of change, even by expeditionvehicle standards, it will come with virtually everything standard, minus a fewselect optional items like the entertainment system. EarthRoamer is in theprocess of streamlining its packages across its entire model line, turningoptions into standard equipment.
“We’ve just released our 2016 models. We’ve taken what 90percent of people are buying and what really makes an EarthRoamer anEarthRoamer and we’re making that standard," explained Tatro. "So things like the air ride suspension, the MPT tires and wheels, front winch, back-up camera, Line-X,exterior lighting, the maximum solar you can get, maximum batteries, and thelist goes on.”
EarthRoamer plans to have the first XV-HD complete by mid tolate 2016, so we won’t necessarily be seeing one at next year’s Overland Expo,either. It will use social media to provide a detailed, behind-the-sceneslook at the build and is also in the process of launching a new websitecomplete with build-your-own-EarthRoamer configurator.