So you've always dreamed of owning an RV but just couldn't imagine paying for all that fuel used on a family outing. Well you may be in luck as Freightliner is now offering a motor home chassis to solve the problem.
The new chassis is called the ecoFred motorhome chassis. Freightliner is the first to develop a chassis of this type for the RV market. The powertrain consists of a 6.7 liter Cummins diesel engine (typical in this class of chassis) paired with an Eaton automated manual transmission, also typical. Here's where the change comes in. This new powertrain utilizes a combo motor-generator sandwiched between the trans and the engine. The motor-generator provides electric drive capabilities, captures energy from regenerative braking, and always the use of an auto shut off feature.
The chassis also incorporates a lithium-ion battery for energy storage duties. All of the advanced components lead to several improvements. The hybrid setup increases fuel economy while also provided additional power for acceleration duties and an increased gross vehicle weight.
The advanced Freightliner chassis will be available to RV builders (Coach builders) starting next year. The hybrid setup will reduce fuel consumption on long family trips, but the advanced chassis is likely to cost significantly more than a traditional setup.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation ecoFREDTM Motorhome Chassis Ready for Production
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Dec. 3, 2009 - ecoFREDTM, the RV industry's first hybrid-electric Class A motorhome chassis, is now available for order. Introduced in December 2008 by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) as a prototype, ecoFRED provides improved fuel economy while also reducing engine emissions.
Equipped with the Eaton® hybrid-electric system, ecoFRED is unlike any other chassis available in the RV market today. Powered by the Cummins® ISB 6.7-liter engine with up to 300 hp and an Eaton automated manual transmission, ecoFRED provides increased torque for better acceleration, contributing to a superior performance that has become synonymous with the FCCC brand.
"We are pleased that ecoFRED is ready for production," said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. "ecoFRED offers reduced exhaust emissions, leading toward a cleaner environment, requires less fuel to operate and has an improved brake life, all of which contribute to better overall performance and a reduced operational cost for our customers."
ecoFRED, so named because of its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits, offers significantly less brake wear due to regenerative braking, leading to lower replacement costs. The chassis also boasts of better acceleration and increased towing capacity, operating similar to driving an automatic transmission.
ecoFRED has increased towing capacity with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 27,000 lbs. and a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 37,000 lbs. This enables travelers to carry more weight in the coach storage compartments or tow a heavier or additional vehicle.
FCCC engineers also designed ecoFRED to offer a best-in-class 55-degree wheel cut to better travel and navigate through tight spatial constraints. Similar to the popular FRED (Front Engine Diesel) chassis, ecoFRED does not have an engine hump or "dog house" typically found on a gas chassis. The result is a flat floor and more room in the driver cockpit, contributing to driver comfort and easier entry and egress from the seats to the back of the motorhome.
Two OEMs have built prototype coaches on ecoFRED. This summer, Brad and Amy Herzog, spokespeople for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), decided to use a Winnebago motorhome with the innovative ecoFRED RV chassis for its 10th annual travel tour.
The Herzogs chose to travel the country in the 2009 Winnebago Adventurer® built upon ecoFRED because of its improved acceleration, reduced fuel consumption and emissions and ease of maintenance, Brad Herzog said.
Brad, Amy, and their sons started the 50-day tour from Chicago, where their parents live. The tour included 15 states (Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana), as well as Washington, D.C.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and school bus and shuttle bus markets. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.