Batteries included as fuel-free Big Lap dream takes a leap forward

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Winnebago is to unveil its electric motorhome
Winnebago is to unveil its electric motorhome

While there has been no shortage of grey nomads eager to scoff at the idea of a fuel-free rig ever hitting the open road on a mainstream Big Lap … it might be time for them to have a serious re-think.

In recent weeks, a number of developments have seemingly moved the concept of an electric Big Lap from the realms of science fiction to the verge of on-the-road reality. The biggest news of all came from US motorhome manufacturer, Winnebago, which has announced that it’s buying into the electric, emissions-free RV of the future dream.

The company is partnering with Motiv Power Systems, which converts truck chassis to electric power, to deliver an all-electric recreational vehicle. Apparently, since RVs are already built on existing truck chassis, it’s a simple step to build a camper on top of a chassis that has already been converted to battery power.

Winnebago will be selling zero emissions versions of its 10-metre and 12-metre Class A motorhomes. According to the company, the six to eight batteries can deliver a range of 135-200 kilometres on a full charge.

It may not quite be enough for Aussie motorhomers to hit the Outback highways with any degree of find-a-place-to-top-up confidence … but the persistent voices mocking electric vehicles’ limited range are becoming more muted. A lot of that is to do with the recent unveiling of the groundbreaking Tesla Semi Truck, which may have a staggering one-charge range of nearly 1,000 kilometres!

Times they are a-changin’ then, and surveys show that half of Australian consumers are prepared to buy an electric car … although they remain concerned about price, range, and infrastructure. In a recent speech, Infrastructure Australia chief executive, Philip Davies, acknowledged a need for ‘planning policy’ for an ‘expected rapid uptake of electric vehicles’.

It is already estimated there will be some 230,000 electric vehicles in Australia by 2025, and more than a million by 2030. While the naysayers may Plans are in progress in the US to produce a battery-powered motorhome with zero emissions point to the vastness of the Australian continent as a barrier to grey nomads ever going electric, charging stations are already popping up in remote areas. For example, new vehicle charging stations have just been installed at the Warmun Roadhouse, Halls Creek Service Station and Fitzroy Crossing Roadhouse on a 900-kilometre stretch of Northern Highway between Kununurra and Derby.

Horizon Power, which installed the stations, says they complete the ‘missing link’ for electric vehicle charging availability around Australia’s perimeter. There is currently a network of some 450 electric charging stations across Australia.

Do you think we will ever see electric motorhomes become the norm? Email us here to share your thoughts.

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