The electric-vehicle revolution is coming fast, and it’s not just automakers feeling the pressure to pivot to a new type of transportation. With EV sales growing in the U.S., accessory companies are also adjusting their strategies at a speedy clip, retooling all manner of products—from cargo carriers to charging stations—to address the specific needs of EVs.
For camper and trailer brands, one challenge lies in evolving goods to better suit vehicles with relatively limited travel ranges compared to gas-powered cars and trucks. That’s the problem the trailer company Colorado Teardrops is trying to address with its newly announced Boulder model, which acts as a portable charging station for electric vehicles. The product is currently in the prototype phase, but already it’s creating a fair amount of buzz.
While EVs can technically tow conventional campers, the weight and drag significantly reduces drive range, Colorado Teardrops founder Dean Wiltshire told OBJ. The solution his company landed on is allowing users to partially recharge their EV overnight through the camper’s built-in battery, to negate the loss of range from towing.
“We care about the planet and really see EVs as a huge part of the future,” Wiltshire said. “But range anxiety is a real thing, and we knew we had to figure out a way to negate the loss of range from towing a trailer.”
With this latest move, Colorado Teardrops joins several other RV and camper manufacturers currently working to future-proof their businesses through innovations targeted at the EV space. Airstream is now testing its eStream electric drivetrain that will assist in propelling trailers and improving both EV and gas-powered mileage, and Winnebago is preparing its E-RV camper van for market in 2023.
The Boulder will be released next year at a starting price of $55,000. The 11-by-5-foot model—which has a dry weight of 2,200 pounds and a tongue weight of 185 pounds—is designed aerodynamically to reduce drag and includes a bank of 75 kWh batteries to turn the unit into a charging station for EVs.
“Our test-tow vehicle is the Tesla Model X,” Wiltshire said. “We determined that if that vehicle has a range of [about] 300 miles, the Boulder carries enough charge [to increase that to] about 330 miles. Actual range when towing is determined by a lot of variables, but in this case we’re seeing the Boulder add about 10 percent more range beyond the full charge.”
Colorado Teardrops is currently accepting down payments for the trailer and is offering discounted pre-production pricing.
“We’re excited to have a prototype built and know that everything is working as designed,” Wiltshire said. “The presales have been excellent and show us that we’re on the right path with this concept. We’re seeing customers who are planning to order EVs soon and want to be ready for camping season next year. The whole EV industry is looking very strong.”
The Boulder sleeps four with a queen-size bed and two bunk beds that fold into bench seats, and a table that lifts from the floor. The back hatch rises for storage and features a 37-by-60-inch kitchen countertop. Gullwing side doors create awnings, and the trailer has 27-inch tires with a 10-inch clearance. Wiltshire said the Boulder isn’t designed for heavy offroad use, although coming models from the brand will be.
“It’ll be great for national park campgrounds, festivals, and improved areas like that,” he said.
Wiltshire confirmed that the company’s next models in the works, the 17-foot Denver and the 27-foot Golden, will both have adjustable roofs that can be lowered while on the road (to maintain aerodynamics) and raised at camp to allow users to stand up inside. Both will have increased battery storage to fully charge larger EVs such as the Ford Lightning F-150 and GMC Hummer EV. These future models will allow direct DC connection from the trailer to EVs while driving, allowing charging on the road for extended range, Wiltshire said.
“That’s nirvana for us: being able to charge as you drive to increase range,” Wiltshire said. “We want to help make electric vehicles even better.”
Read More: The Future of the Auto Industry Is Electric. Trailer Companies Are Preparing.