Bowlus electric RV stockpiles power & connectivity to torch grid ties
Bowlus has introduced its most off-grid-capable travel trailer yet, bringing cutting-edge power and connectivity solutions to its incomparably shiny, Streamline Moderne towable. The all-new Volterra wears highly efficient AeroSolar panels to feed its double-sized lithium battery pack and comes ready to serve up the high speeds of Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet. The trailer can live comfortably and indefinitely off the grid, and when it comes time to meander back to civilization, it can even charge its all-electric tow vehicle back to life, zapping up to 65 miles of range into the likes of the Tesla Model X or Rivian R1T doing the pulling.
Over the years, we've watched Bowlus seriously beef up available battery power several times, first with the 4-kWh Lithium+ package that eventually became standard equipment, then with the 7.7-kWh Performance Edition. The 27-foot (8.2-m) Volterra takes leaps forward from there, more than doubling onboard LiFePO4 battery capacity to 17 kWh. Using the 20-A outlets, owners can deliver up to 65 miles (104 km) worth of emergency charge to an electric vehicle, an impressive increase from the 16 miles (25 km) older Bowlus models offer.
To help keep that battery bank powering equipment and outlets, Bowlus uses what it calls the RV industry's first application of AeroSolar, explaining that the lightweight panels use passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) technology to achieve up to 12 percent more efficiency than traditional panels. The panels better adhere to the Volterra's curvaceous aluminum shell, collecting sunlight on the ride and at camp without any further positioning or adjustment by the owner. The system is rated at 480 watts, and buyers can also add optional suitcase panel expansions for more capability.
The Volterra swaps out the usual dual-burner gas stove for an induction cooktop that runs off the battery pack, eliminating the last appliance that relied solely on propane. The trailer does pack a 17-lb LPG tank as a backup power source, but it's designed to operate completely electrically, eliminating noisy, fuming gas generators and propane tank off-gassing and refills. The propane tank is included primarily for cold-weather travel in which heating will be used for long periods of time without access to shore power. For shorter stays, the heat, A/C and other onboard systems can operate purely off the battery and 3,000-W pure sine wave inverter.
A comprehensive power management system helps owners track battery status and power usage, and Bowlus will send out OTA updates to keep the system operating smoothly.
Couple all that electrical power with the 150 percent fresh water capacity increase to 189 L, and the Volterra is able to comfortably support campers and RV lifers off the beaten path, requiring fewer trips back to civilization for supplies. The only thing missing from the build is what's slowly becoming the next must-have for serious off-grid dwellers and travelers: the air-to-water generation system.
In a world of pandemics and remote work, supplying basic life essentials is only half the equation; a good off-grid travel trailer also needs to support work productivity. For this purpose, Bowlus preps the Volterra for Starlink RV internet and adds 3G/4G LTE SIM connectivity as backup. With Starlink download speeds up to 250 Mbps, the Volterra is ready for more than just firing off emails and quick-browsing the web, supporting video calls in remote destinations, delivering video streaming, and enabling large file downloads, all to better empower the untethered workers of today and tomorrow.
One final piece of technological wizardry that Bowlus hangs on the Volterra is a 120-degree back-up camera with full-color night vision. Designed to make maneuvering into cramped camping spots easier than ever, even after sundown, the waterproof, rechargeable camera is compatible with iOS and Android devices.
Beyond all those tech-focused updates, the Volterra features Bowlus' tried-and-true four-sleeper layout with a dual-room dry bathroom and a convertible four-seat/twin-bed dining lounge sandwiched between a rear king bedroom and front kitchen. The trailer weighs 3,250 lb (1,474 kg) and has a payload of 750 lb (340 kg).
The 2023 Volterra launched on Tuesday and is available for order starting at US$310,000. It will compete with powerfully autonomous towable tiny homes from fellow Californian luxury off-grid travel brand Living Vehicle.