The motorhome of the future
Very few industries are currently faced with a scale of change as significant as that of the automotive industry. Developing alternatives to the combustion engine is a considerable task, essential to ensuring sustainable mobility. The Erwin Hymer Group has long conducted research in the area of alternative vehicular technology. At the 2017 Caravan Salon, with their brand Dethleffs, they presented their e.home case study, a motorhome in which all the equipment was powered by the sun.
The market for electromobility is constantly growing. According to experts’ estimates, the share of electrically-powered vehicles worldwide will increase to around 30 to 40 percent by the year 2030. As a modern and sustainable drive technology, electromobility reduces dependence on fossil fuels, while simultaneously harnessing great potential in regard to climate protection and entry into new markets. The worldwide number of electric cars rose by around 73 percent to 1.3 million vehicles in the year 2016. By 2020, according to government plans, there should be one million electric vehicles on German roads alone.
A motorhome that produces electricity
The conceptual study e.home is a solely electrically-powered mobile home based on an Iveco Daily Electric chassis. Three sodium-nickel chloride batteries with an output of 3x76Ah at 400 volt integrated in the chassis allow an initial range of 180 kilometres. The whole living area draws electricity through the vehicle’s batteries. There is no longer a gas supply; rather, all cooking and heating is carried out exclusively with electricity. A further particularity: the vehicle simultaneously collects and stores energy. A photo-voltaic foil with a thin layer of solar cells was built extensively onto the vehicle. With a total area of 31 square metres, it produces additional electricity with an output of 3,000 watts.
Alongside the electric drive, the e.home study shows numerous innovative details, such as electric black-out windows. An electric, dimmable sheet between the isolation panes of the window would ensure privacy and protect from glare and heat. Further functions include a driver assistance pack and a cross-component bus system with voice control.
Requirement for mobility in the future
“The focus of our development is currently on areas such as battery capacity, vehicle weight and construction, as we want to increase the range of our vehicles quickly. Our electric vehicle will be ready for the market when it can travel 500 kilometres without having to be charged from time to time”, says Jan de Haas, board member of the Erwin Hymer Group.
The development of the charging infrastructure is also occurring with increasing speed. The number of charging stations in Germany should be extended from 7,500 stations today to 20,000 units by 2020, with assistance from government incentive programmes. The long-term goal of the European Union is extensive coverage with at least 750,000 charging stations, of which 150,000 would be in Germany. The charging speed is also a development in progress. Currently, quick charging stations already charge to a completely full battery in two hours. Charging to 80 per cent only takes 20 minutes.
Innovative design approach for lightweight construction
In order to reach the largest range possible with electric vehicles, the weight of the vehicle is a deciding factor along with the battery performance. An important research area of the Erwin Hymer Group is therefore lightweight construction. The new construction approach ICON (Intelligent Construction) was first used in relation to the caravan “Coco” from the brand Dethleffs, which only weighs 638 kilogrammes. Through the combination of bionic design and computerised structure optimisation, as well as the implementation of multifunctional building groups and intelligent materials, the weight can not only be decreased significantly, but stability can also be increased.