EarthCruiser explores electric overlanding with EV truck camper
Thanks to products like the FX and Terranova, EarthCruiser is one of the baddest names in overlanding, from the Australian Outback to the American West and beyond. Now, the company's confirmed plans to become one of the baddest names in all-electric overlanding. Starting from the ground up, it will develop a camper solution specifically for electric vehicles, working to build upon inherent EV advantages like clean, quiet operation and torque-heavy off-road capability to create a well-rounded electric overland camper truck for serious explorers.
With the multiple size modules it's built over the years on both sides of the Pacific, it would seem that EarthCruiser could lightly adapt a camper or two around one or more of the electric truck platforms on or headed to the US market and call it a day. The Cybertruck would take more than "light" adaptation, but the freshly launched F-150 Lightning has the same dimensions as the ICE F-150, so why not just prepare something that fits both?
"Current products on the market that were designed for 100-year-old internal combustion engines are simply not going to work with the EV platforms being released," EarthCruiser explained in an email and social media teaser it published Thursday. "The production and storage of thermal energy, overall weight and weight distribution, air/drag coefficient, and, not least, integration of systems to EV platforms with complicated interfaces are not necessarily addressed in the overland products available."
So EarthCruiser will address them by starting from scratch and developing an EV-specific camper platform. In fact, it's handing the task over to a new standalone research and development team it calls EarthCruiser Innovation (ECI), which will operate separately from the existing product team so as not to interfere with production timelines for traditional EarthCruiser models.
That's about all the detail EarthCruiser is giving up at this early stage, but the rendering it sent out atop its email shows that it's initially visualizing something similar to its GZL pickup camper from several years back. That model is no longer listed among its current US offerings but at one point was built for both mid- and full-size pickup trucks. The pop-up camper in the rendering sits on a Rivian R1T and uses a full-length roof lift system more like the one on the Terranova camper truck than the wedge tops of the original GZL models.
Whether EarthCruiser uses an interior layout derived from the GZL, rearranges things or blows up the mold altogether and does something entirely different from the rendering remains to be seen. The last time we looked at the GZL – a rather fast five years ago, it slept three to four people on a combination of the over-cab alcove bed and convertible dinette just below. An impressively space-efficient design, the camper also had a compact-L corner kitchen, a floor drain entryway for showering with the pull-out kitchen faucet, and an available toilet hidden away below one of the dining benches.
The GZL series also made use of standard solar power, the feature most certain to carry over to the new EC EV camper. Among the various overland-specific EV advantages EarthCruiser pointed out is the ability for an electric overland truck to "regenerate some of its own fuel" anywhere in the world, using the virtually universal and limitless fuel source of sunlight.
We also imagine EarthCruiser might follow in the footsteps of other all electric-camping pioneers in equipping its camper to operate completely on electricity without the need for LPG tanks. Electric appliances like induction cooktops feature prominently in such designs.
All-electric American camper vans do exist as rare concepts and rental vehicles, but so far pickup trucks seem the better bet for creating the most capable first-generation electric campers. Trucks like the R1T and F-150 Lightning boast much more robust ranges than the first electric vans available in the US and other markets, and better off-road capability. Chief among EarthCruiser's tasks in adapting such a truck to overlanding will be retaining as much of the range and performance as it can by keeping its camper as light and aerodynamic as possible.