If you go to a Walmart parking lot in most towns, you’ll notice an unusual number of commercial vehicles parked at night. That trucks would park in and near the lot should be no surprise, but you’ll see a bunch of work vans, moving trucks, and other vehicles that people don’t typically drive to Walmart. Some of them are kind of beat up on the side. Others have the name of a business on them that’s obviously closed down, and might not exist at all if you looked into it just a little.
But, sit and watch for a while, and some of these work vehicles will surprise you when the doors open up. It’s common for people to convert a typical van that’s plain on the outside into a miniature version of a luxury apartment inside. For people on more of a budget, the interior might not be luxurious, but has most if not all of the comforts of home. At the bottom end, you’ll even see people who didn’t choose “van life,” and might only have some blankets inside.
So, it should be no surprise at all that vans designed originally for work and hauling cargo are being pressed into RV service. Like a gas- or diesel-powered van, electric vans have plenty of space inside to do exactly the same thing. Plus, they have some features that can make them even better than a normal van.
A recent announcement from Grounded RV shows us that it’s not just DIYers who are interested in doing this. Grounded RV is taking Brightdrop Zevo 600 vans and converting them into serious electric RVs. After offering a limited-range electric RV (eRV?) called the Grounded G1 earlier this year, the company followed on with the G2, an RV with enough range for the average RVer to seriously consider going electric.
“The G2 is radically different from any other offering on the market,” said Grounded CEO Sam Shapiro. “It’s a profound step toward a future of fully electrified motorhomes, and makes sustainable travel truly achievable. We’ve designed the G2 to be as flexible as possible, and our truly modular interior delivers on the promise of a continually upgradable RV interior. Over time, as your life changes and your use cases change, the vehicle can change with you. Customers can replace the modules themselves by removing some fasteners, taking out one module, and inserting a new one.”
The G2 offers 615 square feet of living space and the company promises comfort, instant acceleration, and effortless control. Even by RV standards, it offers unusual things like all wheel drive and 250 miles of fossil-fuel free operation.
The company started out with the Brightdrop’s 165kWh vehicle battery, but also offered an extra 10kWh house battery in the interior, which can be charged from the vehicle battery or the 640-Watt rooftop solar panels. So, creature comforts don’t have to cut that much into driving range (if at all).
While most people want to get away from it all, Grounded knows that people often want to stay connected for remote work, entertainment on rainy camping days, or just to stay in touch with family. So, the G2 includes Starlink for high-speed internet connectivity wherever you go. It also has rear heating and cooling, ample storage space, indoor shower and wet bath options, hot water, and induction stovetops to bring home with you, and not just through an internet connection to your Ring cameras at home.
If something goes wrong, two companies have your back. Every G2 comes with a vehicle platform warranty from Brightdrop, covering 8 years or 100,000 miles. It also has an interior warranty from Grounded that replaces any product with a manufacturing defect within one year, but that’s a pretty typical interior warranty for any RV. Brightdrop, being part of GM, has service centers all over the continent.
Like other Brightdrop vans and EVs in general, advanced safety features like front pedestrian braking, front and rear parking assist, and Lane Keep Assist protect the G2 driver and people sharing the road or campground gravel road with it.
When it comes to getting more range in the pack, the G2 can be charged at thousands of destination EV chargers across the country. You can always charge it overnight at an RV park, but it has CCS charging for those times when you want to get on down the road. With CCS charging, you can use any charging a regular CCS EV can use, including Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint, and many other places.
Also, as they used to say in the phone industry, there’s an app for that! The Grounded+ App connects the company’s proprietary software to all the electronics used, enabling RVers to monitor their energy usage patterns, optimize efficiency, remotely control appliances, check real-time battery and water levels, and diagnose potential issues.
The interior of the G2 has a grid-based modular system that allows customers to customize their vehicle layout by selecting from a variety of modules, and choosing their placement. After placing a deposit, a Grounded team member will schedule a design call and proceed with building the customer’s customized vehicle.
These modules are designed to effortlessly attach to the mounting rails in the vehicle, offering unparalleled flexibility to customers. With the ability to add or remove modules based on their specific needs, lifestyle changes, or even redecoration, customers have complete control. Additionally, the rails can also serve as a versatile platform for mounting additional accessories, whether they are from Grounded or provided by the customer themselves.
It Isn’t Cheap, Though
Like many top-end vehicles in the RV world, it’s not cheap. The press release didn’t have pricing, but the website says it’ll cost $195,000.
This may sound like a very high price, but looking around at prices for comparable Class B camper vans from traditional RV manufacturers reveals that it’s not astronomical. ICE camper vans can often be found a lot cheaper, but a $200,000 van is very common. Looking at other types of RVs, the $200,000 price point won’t make you the richest camper at most RV parks, either.
But, even if it’s a little more expensive, it’s probably a little like the Tesla Semi. A higher entry price isn’t as big a deal when you consider what kind of cash it takes to drive a gas or diesel van, loaded with a small apartment inside, across the country. EV charging isn’t exactly cheap these days, either, but you can often charge for free at RV parks (if you pay for the space you’d need for the ICE van), get free L2 and even L3 charging sometimes, and save a few bucks with a membership at someplace like Electrify America or Tesla.
But, I’d definitely like to see some cheaper options emerge in the next few years!
Featured image provided by Grounded RV.
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