The Electric Lightship L1 Camper Practically Tows Itself
Lightship's L1 integrates an electric drivetrain and a large-capacity battery pack.
Integrated solar panels help the L1's battery pack maintain a charge.
Deliveries of the approximately $125,000 L1 begin at the end of 2024.
There are many questions that keep us up at night. Does extraterrestrial life exist? Is peace on earth possible? How will we be able to tow a camper long distances with an electric vehicle?
The latter question is one that may soon have a solution, as various recreational vehicle manufacturers work to integrate battery-electric propulsion into their products. The latest company to throw its hat into this ring is a startup called Lightship.
Founded by Ben Parker and Toby Kraus, both of whom spent a half-decade working at Tesla, Lightship intends to kick off production of its solar-powered battery-electric L1 camper trailer in late 2024. With an available 80.0-kWh battery pack (that's usable capacity, per Lightship), the L1 can motor itself about without taxing the electric motor(s) or internal combustion engine of the vehicle it's attached to.
In theory, this means the EV or ICE vehicle the L1's hitched to would see no reduction in energy efficiency or driving range. We won't truly know how this plays out in the real-world until we get our hands on an L1 of our own, though.
Regardless, Lighthouse estimates the L1's large-capacity battery pack holds enough energy to push this camper an estimated 300 miles on a full charge at "highway speed" (we suspect this estimate assumes towing speeds of 55 mph or so, and at 70 mph that figure will likely come in at 180 miles). The company also plans to equip the L1 with a number of solar panels, which Lightship claims can generate up to 3 kW of power.
Although the solar panels can charge the battery pack, we suspect most L1 buyers will either charge the rig's battery at home on a Level 1 or Level 2 charger or on the road at a DC fast charger. Those towing an L1 with their EV may find it difficult to charge both their tow vehicle and L1 simultaneously—or one after the other, given most chargers only stretch so far—at a fast charger, and doing so may result in some glares from other EV drivers looking for a charge. Nonetheless, it's nice to know L1 owners will not need to wait hours on end to charge this camper on a slower AC charger or via its solar panels on long road trips.
The L1's electric drivetrain may benefit gas-, diesel-, and battery-powered tow vehicles alike, but America's nascent electric charging infrastructure means this low-slung sleeper will likely court a bit of extra interest from EV drivers looking to travel far distances with their camper in tow. As we discovered in our testing, hitching a 6100-pound camper to a Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV pickup, and Rivian R1T, respectively, resulted in each electric truck's driving range falling by more than 50 percent relative to their unladen results on our 75-mph highway test.
If the solar-powered L1's sleek looks and accompanying electric drivetrain are a combination that appeals to you, then this camper can be yours for approximately $125,000—and that's not including the $6600 tax credit that Lightship claims the L1 qualifies for. Tax credit or not, the L1 is no small purchase.
On the plus side, interested buyers only have to put $500 down to secure a reservation for an L1. Given that deliveries are still more than a year away, reservation holders have some time to figure out a way to come up with the rest of the money needed to purchase an L1.
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