With more people remote-working than ever, the idea of hitting the road like Jack and never coming back (no more no more) sounds like a great option. After all, who doesn’t want to wake up to the views of Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon every morning? With portable Starlink internet now available, there’s almost no reason to stay home for many people.
But, whether you’re going for the weekend or you’re going for good, there’s one problem that kicks every RVer’s butt: the cost of gas or diesel. The big Class A rigs (the ones that look like a bus) and the larger Class C rigs (the ones with the nose of a van sticking out the front) get worse than 10 miles per gallon. Most travel trailers one would pull with a pickup do the same thing, cutting the truck’s gas mileage more than in half.
A $1500 fuel bill just to drive a few states over to see the sights takes a lot of the glamour and fun out of the experience.
The obvious answer to CleanTechnica readers is probably electric trucks. Someday, the Tesla Cybertruck is going to come out. We already have the Ford F-150 Lightning on the market, and Chevrolet is going to come out with the Silverado EV soon. There’s also the Rivian already on the market and others coming soon. But, just like the gas trucks, EV trucks lose a lot of range when you use them to tow.
I covered this range problem in detail in another article, but it really comes down to what you can afford to lose. Range isn’t an issue with a gas-powered truck or SUV. Gas stations are available almost everywhere, and filling up the tank takes only 5 minutes. Yes, it’s annoying if your MPG drops by half and you have to buy twice as much gas, but on even the most isolated highways, connecting a huge trailer and towing at leisure is still quite useful.
Losing half of your range with an electric truck is a far more serious problem. There are no DC fast charging stations, so you’ll be unable to reach the next one every time you transport a trailer. Even if you can get to the next one, doing the charging will consume much more time. What was formerly a simple trip in a gasoline-powered pickup or SUV becomes a torturous experience when done in an electric vehicle.
But, a recent blog post from lightweight RV manufacturer Go Fast Campers shows us that there might be a way to have our electric cake and eat it, too.
The GFC Camper Platform Enables 33-42 MPG Gas or Minimal Range Loss Electric RVing
Unlike other truck campers, Go Fast Campers (GFC) are designed to be light weight, offer minimal aerodynamic drag, and give great flexibility in a small space. This is basically exactly what the EV range doctor ordered. Here’s a video from GFC showing its camper installed on a Ford Maverick:
What you basically have is a camper shell, something that doesn’t hurt gas mileage or range for a pickup truck, but with a roof that pops up to reveal a sleeping area on top. Below, you have room for storing camping supplies, or for kids to sleep. You can cook breakfast on the tailgate. Add an awning or an EZ-up style shade, and you can even do all this in the rain without getting wet.
When installed atop a Ford Maverick with the hybrid drivetrain, this setup would get 33 MPG on the highway and over 42 MPG in town. By EV standards, that’s pretty unimpressive, but when you consider that a typical truck camper on a typical gas truck gets 10-15 MPG at best, that’s a pretty impressive camper, and even more impressive when you consider that it costs under $29,000 in total.
But, I know that hybrids are too inefficient for CleanTechnica readers. That was the solution 15 years ago, not the answer in 2022, right? Fortunately, Go Fast Campers has the same setup available for Ford F-150 trucks. When you consider that the F-150 Lightning is compatible with nearly every accessory that fits a gas-powered F-150 truck, that opens up EV camping with minimal range loss.
While the company doesn’t have any photos or videos of its camper installed on a Lightning, there are plenty of them on other F-150s. So, we know it would work, and work pretty well given the light weight.
With some searching, I was able to find a similar camper (that appears to be heavier) that was used on a wild trip to the top of Alaska with an F-150 Lightning. They did fine, even if it was a pretty extreme struggle.
Keep in mind that this was with a heavier camper model than the Go Fast Camper is, and they were driving in extreme conditions relying on a lot of Level 2 charging. The big thing to take away is that there’s nothing special about an F-150 Lightning that makes it unsuitable for lighter campers. Ford says to not do that, but they know that people would try to put in something that exceeds the payload rating that the gas ones can barely handle.
But, using something light like the Go Fast Camper pop top, you’d have plenty of payload to spare and wouldn’t damage the suspension or anything like that. Plus, you’d do fine on range as long as you don’t try to put something too heavy inside the back.
While the ability to drive a camping vehicle that gets over 30 MPG or can run on electric is exciting, the cooler thing is that we’re just at the beginning. More electric trucks are coming, and more aftermarket companies are going to come up with lightweight camping options that can work for these electric trucks. Ideas that I can’t think of will come into play, and this will only get cooler and cooler.
It’s also important to see the dropping prices. In the past, a hybrid camper like the one you can build with a Maverick would have been extremely expensive. Today, you can do all this for cheaper than the average new vehicle sale in the U.S.
So, more and more people are going to be able to enjoy cleaner and even totally clean camping going forward.
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