– Feb. 27th 2021 6:00 am ET
It’s the classic American road trip: loading up the family in an RV and hitting the open road. Driving from sunrise to sunset as the miles and the sights pass by your window, your travel partner smiling in the passenger seat.
But imagine if you could trade those gas fill-ups along the way for the satisfaction of power from clean and silent electrons. It’s no dream, my friend! You might actually be able to make it a reality with the electric RV I found for this week’s entry in the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week series. However, there’s a catch: You’ll probably have to leave extra travel companions at home in order to fit in this two seater, three-wheeled electric RV.
Yes, it’s funny looking.
And it’s weird, sure.
Dare I say, awesomely weird?
So it definitely fits the spirit of my weekly Alibaba EV window-shopping escapades.
But that still doesn’t answer the real question: “What the heck is it?!”
Well it’s an electric RV, of course! At least, sort of. Not in the sense of the few somewhat full-size electric RVs we’ve seen in the past. Let’s call this a more… efficient model?
The RV is built on the frame of what is basically an electric tuk-tuk. The tricycle front is paired with a truck’s rear end. The cab up front isn’t spacious but gets the job done. Just like a glorious mullet haircut or your local neighborhood butcher, the real magic happens in the rear. That’s where you’ll find the living space.
There’s an efficiency kitchen table that sits four people, though it converts into a bed that only fits two people, so your dinner guests probably shouldn’t expect to spend the night.
There’s also storage space under the seats/bed and above the cab. And some models have a pull-out kitchen set complete with gas stove. It’s not a Rivian gear tunnel, but it’s kind of close!
Taking a walk around to the rear of the electric RV shows us even more storage space that can be accessed from outside the RV. There are electrical outlets for powering appliances or charging devices in both the rear storage area and inside the living quarters.
There is even wood flooring!
You can see it all in the short video tour below.
So how fast does something like this go? Not terribly fast, unfortunately. The speed is capped at just 25 mph (40 km/h).
That kind of makes sense, though, as I wouldn’t really want to take a high-speed turn in a tricycle this large. In fact, even a 25 mph turn in this thing seems sketchy. Imagine being in the back when this thing goes up on one and a half wheels. That’s nightmare fuel, if you ask me!
But as long as you’re taking it slow, I can see this abomination of an RV being kind of fun in the right use case.
The 60 V drivetrain is powered by a 120 Ah battery. With 7.2 kWh of lead acid on board, you’ve got a decent-sized battery there. That’s the same capacity as the middle-tier battery from Zero Motorcycles, for example.
But with only a 4,000W motor on our three-wheeled RV, the battery won’t have to provide anywhere near as much power as the Zero battery.
The company doesn’t offer a range rating, but I’d wager that a 25 mph vehicle with this pack is likely to get an efficiency of around 75-100 Wh/mile, which equates to a range of around 72-96 miles (115 to 155 km).
You’re probably not going to take a coast-to-coast trip in it. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun for large campgrounds or areas where you can live a semi-nomadic, wandering lifestyle, 25-miles-an-hour at a time.
And it will certainly save you a pile of cash compared to a real electric RV, or any RV for that matter. One unit from the supplier Shandong Everbright Foreign Trading Company carries a price of $4,800. I hope you’re sitting down for the shipping price, though, because it will cost another whopping $2,500 to get it to the US. For $7,300, though, you’ll have your very own electric RV!
And if you order in bulk, the price gets even better. A reasonably sized order of just 500 units gets the price down to a smidge over $3,000, shipping included! So…. group buy, anyone?
From there I would definitely start accessorizing this bad boy. The top of the RV is around 3.5 meters x 1.5 meters, offering over five square meters of surface area.That’s enough space for around 800W of solar panels. These cheap 100W solar panels could be easily lined up on top for a nice DIY solar panel array.
If you filled up the roof you could probably get enough capacity for around half of a charge per day in good sunlight. That’s not bad for a solar charging. If you could do 30-40 miles of range per day on solar power alone, you’d have a pretty nice little apocalypse retirement setup. And it’d definitely be cheaper than the few actual solar-powered electric RVs.
Can you really buy one of these electric RVs?
So here’s the rub: Yes, I buy all sorts of stuff on Alibaba and its more retail-oriented sister site AliExpress. But I’m not actually recommending anyone plop down the cash for one of these electric RVs.
It may be awesome, but purchasing on Alibaba is always a bit tricky. You have to be very careful to communicate clearly with vendors to ensure you’re getting exactly what you expect.
And don’t be surprised if there are hidden fees and ransoms you’ll have to pay to various logistics companies and customs brokers that play a never-ending game of middle man as they bucket brigade your items around the world to you.
But for the brave few who do want to take a chance on cool electric vehicles like these, I certainly salute you. Come pick me up for a ride; we’ll road trip together, and you can tell me all about what the purchase process was like.
We’ll have plenty of time to gab – remember, the thing only goes 25 miles per hour.
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