San Francisco-based startup Lightship has announced the launch of what they claim to be America’s first all-electric recreational vehicle. The Lightship L1 is an aerodynamic, battery-powered travel trailer. The title of “first” may very well be warranted as the purpose-built trailer has a self-propulsion system that enables near-zero range or mile-per-gallon efficiency loss for the vehicle towing it. Additionally, it is designed to be three times more aerodynamic than a traditional travel trailer.
Lightship Co-Founders Ben Parker and Toby Kraus saw an opportunity in the RV industry that reminded them of the early days they experienced working at Tesla (the Lightship team includes alums from Rivian, Proterra, Lucid, and Zoox). Only a few large companies had dominated the RV market, and advancements, much less genuine innovation, had stagnated in the industry.
Ben Parker said,
“One in ten American families owns an RV, but the RV industry hasn’t experienced innovation for decades… Inefficient, unreliable product designs and a power experience that relies on smelly, noisy gas or propane generators fundamentally hinder the amazing experience of traveling in the outdoors.”
The Lightship L1 has an electric powertrain with up to 80 kWh of onboard battery capacity, allowing the trailer to propel itself and achieve near-zero range or efficiency loss for the tow vehicle. The trailer also has a no-compromise battery system that can provide a week of off-grid power without charging. Coupled with up to 3 kW of solar energy, the RV can power the living needs of its occupants and eliminates the reliance on propane and other fossil fuels. At the same time, an ecosystem of all-electric appliances, connected features, and modern amenities offers a seamless camping experience. The L1 is 27 feet long and 8.5 feet wide with a road mode height of 6 feet 9 inches and a camp mode height of 10 feet (the entire top half of the camper lifts on demand). Fully loaded, the camper weighs in at 7,500 pounds and can sleep up to six people, depending on the configuration.
Tony Fadell, iPod inventor, Nest founder, and New York Times bestselling author of Build, said,
“L1 is the RV revolution needed for those who love to explore our planet while making sustainable choices. We want to experience our amazing planet without harming it. It’s not an ancient RV that’s been ‘electrified.’ L1 has been entirely rethought for camping and towing – for both EVs and standard ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) SUVs and trucks. Lightship is changing the industry forever for the better.”
Lightship is based in San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, and sells its products directly to US consumers on its website. The L1 has a starting price of $125,000 or $118,400 after an available tax credit, and reservations for pre-orders on the company’s website are $500. Production is expected to begin in late 2024.
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