Electric vehicle technology has been revolutionizing everything from city cars to aircraft, but so far, not the RV industry. RV buyers want lots of range for long road trips but that’s a hurdle one company thinks it has solved with a Class-C electric RV that uses a rotary engine as a range extender.
Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about an EV with a rotary range extender and it’s not a Mazda.
RV manufacturers have been playing with battery-electric technology for a while, but campers are heavy and have the aerodynamics of a brick. This is bad news for range, and why would you buy an RV if not to take it on long road trips? Fully electric RVs like the WOF Iridium exist, but haven’t been widely accepted yet.
The E.Power Drive started with the company’s Knaus Van Ti 650 MEG Vansation, a Class-C motorhome based on the Fiat Ducato. Knaus, with the help of racing engineering firm HWA AG, tossed out the Fiat’s diesel engine and manual transmission for its own EV gear.
The RV is now powered by 241 HP electric motor running through a reduction gearbox. Top speed is pretty leisurely, advertised as being “over” 68 mph.
The interior is what you’d expect from a motorhome like this.
Mounted towards the rear of the RV is a 35 kWh battery. That battery is small for the application and unsurprisingly, it can only go up to about 56 miles before running out of juice. But when that happens, a three-rotor Wankel wakes up and extends the RV’s driving range.
This engine is a bit of a multitasker as it provides power to charge the battery, power to the electric drive motor and power for the living space in the RV. And when parked, the rotary can provide five days of power on a tank of fuel.
The battery is said to take three hours to charge from a wall charger, with the rotary assisting, it’s able to chop that down to 35 minutes.
Knaus says that the benefits of using a rotary engine for this purpose are that the engine is compact, uses fewer parts and is easier to assemble than a typical engine. The company says that any engine can do the job, and its future goal is to replace that rotary with another piece of novel tech, hydrogen power.
The E.Power Drive is certainly a weird take on electrifying RVs, but I’m here for it. The E.Power Drive does appear to be just a concept for now and sadly, Knaus doesn’t provide any data about how far the RV can drive with the range extender or specs for the rotary.