Airstream began working on its concept eStream all-electric trailer only about a year ago along with its parent Thor Industries, but the maker of iconic luxury recreational vehicles plans to field its first EVs within a few years.
Of course, Airstream trailers are towed behind other vehicles, not self-propelled like a travel coach. But the company, based in Jackson Center, Ohio, needed to respond to growing purchases by its upscale and trend-aware customer base of all-electric SUVs that tow their Airstream trailers.
So Airstream recently unveiled the 22-foot-long eStream concept, which improves the range of the tow vehicle by reducing aerodynamic drag of the trailer by 20 percent through innovations such as removing protrusions from the roof and narrowing the overall width by 8 inches. Drive-assist motors in the trailer actually move the Airstream forward to a degree with its tow vehicle.
At the same time, eStream features new technologies such as high-voltage batteries and electronic systems that provide the experience of being connected to "shore power" electric outlets at campgrounds and elsewhere — even operating the air-conditioning system.
Contributor Dale Buss talked with Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler, 55, about the eStream. Here are edited excerpts.