Thor and Airstream announced a new electric concept that fundamentally challenges our collective preconceptions of what a travel trailer is supposed to be. Rather than simply being dead weight on the highway, the self-propelled eStream takes some of the burden off its tow vehicle thanks to its self-contained electric powertrain. This is one of two electric campers Thor introduced today, but while the Thor Vision Vehicle is a Transit-based electric RV done in the same style as conventional ICE van builds, the eStream concept is much wilder and more interesting.
Because the eStream helps you tow it, it improves efficiency whether it's paired to an electric or gasoline-powered tow vehicle. Specs are thin, but Thor's powertrain demonstration video depicts dual independent motors and up to two battery packs. While the eStream is being towed, these motors can be powered, relieving the tow vehicle of some of its burden. Of course, it also must weigh more than a traditional trailer, so we do wonder how much of the electric boost is negated by the presence of the electric boost in the first place.
Thanks to Thor's advanced electrical architecture, their utility extends beyond merely providing additional propulsion. The motors can be used to apply torque to the wheels in both directions, which would allow for regenerative capture of braking energy for even more range. The motors can also be used to alter the distribution of weight on the hitch of a tow vehicle by either braking or powering the wheels, depending on the load, potentially eliminating the need for a weight-distributing hitch in some applications.
When detached from a vehicle, the trailer can be controlled remotely via an app. And we don't just mean the lights, refrigerator and HVAC. Thor lets you drive the thing with your phone, like James Bond's 7 Series in "Tomorrow Never Dies." You won't get enough speed to launch this thing off a parking structure, but you can certainly reposition it within a camp site or help align it for hitching up. And when you finally get settled in, it's still a travel trailer like any other.
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