Electric cars are great for efficiency.
They're less adept at pulling heavy loads at highway speeds and the extra power needed to pull a trailer can quickly drain batteries. That means more charging, more travel time, and less vacation time.
Now German RV maker Dethleffs has a solution for those who want to make a commitment to the environment by driving electric, but don't want to give up the ability to get out into nature with a camper: the electric trailer.
Dethleffs e.Home Coco electric camping trailer
The company showed the e-Home Coco camper concept at this year's Dusseldorf RV show last weekend, according to a report in New Atlas.
The camper has its own 80-kwh battery pack under the floor, and its own electric motors to provide extra power and range to the towing combination.
It uses a torsion beam axle with individual 54-horsepower wheel motors that not only add power, they can also help balance the trailer—similar to a Segway— to keep from putting too much tongue weight on the tow vehicle.
A controller connected to the car governs power to the trailer to provide appropriate acceleration power or braking.
The big battery provides plenty of power for camping and can even run an air conditioner in the camper.
Since most campers sit idle many months of the year, the trailer's battery can also provide backup home power, eliminating the need to buy a separate stationary battery pack, for example, to store solar power.
The trailer comes with its own solar panels which can also feed into the house when it's parked.
Having an electric-powered trailer will also allow owners to maneuver the trailer precisely into parking spaces remotely when it's disconnected from the car.
So far the e-Home Coco is just a concept, but it could be what's needed to make electric cars work for the same kinds of recreational pursuits that many owners use internal combustion cars for.
The only electric-vehicle on the market rated to tow is the Tesla Model X, with a 5,000-pound towing capacity, and it depends heavily on Tesla's widespread network of Superchargers when towing. A few electric carmakers are developing electric SUVs and pickups that may have more battery power, such as the planned Tesla pickup and a large SUV and pickup from startup automaker Rivian.