Outdoors

Carbon fiber camping trailer sustains itself off-grid with "endless" power and water

Carbon fiber camping trailer s...
The Sonic X's slide-out increases interior space, providing room for a comfy dining lounge with wraparound sofa
The Sonic X's slide-out increases interior space, providing room for a comfy dining lounge with wraparound sofa
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The Sonic X interior includes a front-end Murphy bed that folds over top the loveseat
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The Sonic X interior includes a front-end Murphy bed that folds over top the loveseat
The interior also houses a kitchen, dining room and rear bathroom
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The interior also houses a kitchen, dining room and rear bathroom
The Sonic X combines a number of rare design elements to hit the road as a more eco-friendly, self-sustaining adventure trailer
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The Sonic X combines a number of rare design elements to hit the road as a more eco-friendly, self-sustaining adventure trailer
The KZ Sonic X makes its debut at RVX 2019
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The KZ Sonic X makes its debut at RVX 2019
The Sonic X can carry both a kayak on back and bikes up front
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The Sonic X can carry both a kayak on back and bikes up front
The Sonic X has a carbon fiber body to lose weight without losing structural integrity
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The Sonic X has a carbon fiber body to lose weight without losing structural integrity
The Sonic X's slide-out increases interior space, providing room for a comfy dining lounge with wraparound sofa
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The Sonic X's slide-out increases interior space, providing room for a comfy dining lounge with wraparound sofa
A bike carrier up front
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A bike carrier up front
A peek inside at the dining lounge
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A peek inside at the dining lounge
Kitchen area with spacious counter
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Kitchen area with spacious counter
Plenty of ambient lighting throughout, including behind the stove
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Plenty of ambient lighting throughout, including behind the stove
The Murphy bed stowed away in day mode
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The Murphy bed stowed away in day mode
Inside the KZ RV Sonic X concept camping trailer
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Inside the KZ RV Sonic X concept camping trailer
The interior includes a TV
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The interior includes a TV
The dry bathroom at the rear
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The dry bathroom at the rear
Sonic X shower compartment
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Sonic X shower compartment
Not a great angle, but it at least provides an idea of the shower size
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Not a great angle, but it at least provides an idea of the shower size
Inside the KZ RV Sonic X concept camping trailer
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Inside the KZ RV Sonic X concept camping trailer
The outdoor entertainment center includes a PlayStation 4 mounted behind the TV
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The outdoor entertainment center includes a PlayStation 4 mounted behind the TV
Outdoor entertainment system
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Outdoor entertainment system
The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019
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The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019
The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019
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The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019
Custom kayak carrier
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Custom kayak carrier

A new style of trailer for an evolving breed of traveler, the Sonic X from KZ Recreational Vehicles adds a little more self-sustainability to the camping trailer world. With its solar-backed lithium battery bank, the 26-footer is designed to run off-grid indefinitely. It also includes lightweight carbon fiber construction, a fresh water harvesting system and insulation-boosting technology for better performance, autonomy and efficiency. Get lost for weeks and months at a time without giving up residential-style comforts.

The new RVX trade show taking place this week in Salt Lake City is challenging the US RV industry to innovate and attract a more diverse set of buyers. The show itself reinvented itself from the RV Industry Association-sponsored, Louisville-based National RV Trade Show with the aim of disrupting the industry, better aligning with changing demographics and building more awareness and buzz. It kicked off on Tuesday with a big reveal competition that sought to identify the most innovative new products for different profiles of buyer, everyone from gritty outdoor adventurers and van lifers to luxury tourists and family vacationers.

The Sonic X was a runner-up in the "City Escape" category, though it could have just as easily earned its spot in the "Sustainability" or "On the Horizon" (cutting edge/futuristic product) categories. It seems like the epitome of what RVIA is looking to accomplish with RVX, generating buzz by applying new technologies and materials to the motorhome and trailer world. In other words, hosting a show that's a little more like a tech or auto show, less a stuffy exhibition hall packed wall to wall with monstrous motorhome and fifth-wheel boxes with loud graphics.

The KZ Sonic X makes its debut at RVX 2019
The KZ Sonic X makes its debut at RVX 2019

As a subsidiary of Thor Industries, which recently consolidated its place as the world's largest RV manufacturer with the purchase of Germany's Erwin Hymer Group, KZ has some inherent advantages when experimenting with new technologies and design techniques. It applies a variety of new strategies to the Sonic X concept, starting with a carbon fiber body designed to decrease overall weight while maintaining robust durability. Below that glimmering carbon, the Huck-bolted frame offers five times the strength of a welded construction, according to KZ.

The other big innovation on the Sonic X is its power system, which combines a 1,000-watt roof-mounted solar array with a 1,000-Ah nine-battery lithium-ion bank for serious off-grid electrical capability. In fact, KZ says that it's the industry's first 26-foot (7.9-m) trailer with "endless solar power." That endlessness will, of course, depend upon the individual owner's power usage, weather and travel conditions, but the system is built to power everything from the 198-L gas/electric refrigerator to the outdoor entertainment system with HDTV, sound bar and PlayStation 4.

Outdoor entertainment system
Outdoor entertainment system

The beefy, solar-backed electrical system helps the Sonic X achieve energy independence, and a Secondary Infinite Water System helps it keep fresh water flowing far beyond campground hookups. Similar to what we've seen on rugged off-road caravans and expedition vehicles, like the Bruder EXP-6 and EarthCruiser EXD, the Sonic X system pulls water out of natural sources like streams and lakes with its 25-ft (7.6-m) hose and heavy-duty pump, filters it and then stores it in a 379-L tank. So when you run out of the fresh water you set out with, you don't have to head back to civilization just to fill up.

The Sonic X isn't quite so rugged as the aforementioned Bruder, Terra Trek TTE or some of the other Aussie-built off-road camper trailers we've looked at in recent times, but it is designed to chase adventure into the mud and dust. It rides on 30-in off-road tires cushioned by torsion-axle suspension. A triple-tube bumper, 360-degree nerf bars and skid protection help to fend off damage from rocks, roots and other trail hurdles, while a custom-designed kayak rack and four-bike carrier get the paddles and pedals to their respective starting points. An illuminated pass-through storage garage adds extra gear-haul space; integrated LED roof bars help light up the campsite after sundown; and a backup camera makes maneuvering easier.

The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019
The KZ Sonic X debuts at RVX 2019

KZ ups interior weather protection and energy efficiency with deep-tinted frameless windows and Chroma-coated roller shades, helping to prevent heat and UV rays from getting inside. The interior is quite spacious and comfy, featuring a front Murphy bed/loveseat, central dining area with sofa and butcher block table, and a well-equipped kitchen. The rear dry bathroom is roomy enough to take your clothes off in. Indoor amenities include USB and 110V charging outlets, an HDTV with DVD player, a dual-power fan with rain sensor, and a concealed wall safe.

The interior also houses a kitchen, dining room and rear bathroom
The interior also houses a kitchen, dining room and rear bathroom

The 6,030-lb (2,735-kg) Sonic X is billed merely as a concept, but hopefully it's an indication of the type of forward thinking and smart design that is on its way to production RVs. We're on the floor at RVX and will be looking at more of these forward thinking RV innovations in the coming days.

Source: KZ Recreational Vehicles

5 comments
guzmanchinky
That is VERY cool. Can it run an air conditioning unit using the solar panels/battery pack?
PAV
What's a dry bathroom?
warren trout
You left off the propane tanks.
jerryd
Using CF in this is just silly as costs far more with no benefit other than CF hype. And if done clear the sun will eat at it and in a few yrs it'll delaminate, turn yellow then brown. To Guz question, a well done 1kw solar system should run an A/C a few hours/day. A minimal A/C, 6k btu, takes about 500 wts and solar US average gets about 5kwh/day. And remember the A/C turns off a lot depending so 4-6hrs/day plus other loads shouldn't be a problem. They mention electric/gas fridge but they are heavy power users so if you want to run it from solar, you need a compression fridge, not ammonia and a 20lb gas tank/month to buy to run it.
Infragreen
It's weird that the creators pushed for a sleek carbon fiber exterior only to have the interior look like a baby boomer's drawing of 'fancy'.