Campers going green

Camping is by any standard one of the few ways how to get very close to the nature. We campers like to spend time surrounded with green sceneries, fresh air, singing birds, the sound of water somewhere in the distance, walking along trails, and enjoying the sun. We know how important it is to preserve the nature unspoilt for posterity.

Although camps are not known to be big polluters, many of them have already taken steps to lower their carbon footprint to the minimum. Campers can contribute a lot to this cause: by avoiding plastic bags, recycling, going easy on the water, not leaving trash behind, using eco-friendly detergents and powders, and so on. Even though it might seem that a single individual cannot contribute much to saving or ruining the planet, the fact is that each and every one of us counts and can make a change either way.

The year 2018 was a great milestone for transitioning away from a dependency on fossil fuels in the automotive industry. We saw many different new electric or hydrogen vehicles presented to the market. It looks like green mobility is finally mature enough to enter our lives through the front door. Of course, the technology needs improvements and some electric models are still not fit for the mainstream market. But this is changing rapidly: plug-in cars are becoming more and more attractive, range anxiety is disappearing with bigger batteries, semi-autonomous driving is here to stay, safety features look impressive, and, perhaps most importantly, prices are dropping fast.

Personal vehicles received the most attention but other types are gaining traction as well. For the camping industry vans are the ones we need to focus on. In the past, I did not notice much progress on the field of zero emission vans or even motorhomes. Actually, prior to 2017 I noticed only the campervan edition of Nissan NV200, which the Japanese company introduced in 2014. That was a positive step. However it had one great weakness: short range. This was improved with the newer version in 2018, which sports a power pack that will carry the vehicle approximately 200km far.

This range is closer to the comfort zone. With improved technological solutions, it will get even better. All of us true campers do not rush from one place to another and travel several hundred kilometres with few stops. Therefore, this should not be a problem. And electricity is much cheaper than gasoline or diesel, which can lower the total costs of the trip.

In 2019 we will witness the introduction of the first motorhome with 200km electric range by Iridium. An electric motor means much more torque. More torque in turn means driving more easily when entering a motorway or highway. So, driving more easily and environmentally friendly wherever we are.

More green RVs will be hitting the roads in the near future. Some are still in the concept stage but it is nice to see the recreational vehicle industry moving to more sustainable products. The famous German motorhome maker Dethleffs introduced a very interesting concept of an RV covered in solar modules. Not the latest hit of design but still kind of a small power plant on wheels. Mercedes showed us a hydrogen-powered motorhome, which would be a very nice solution for long distance travel. Hydrogen-powered vehicles can go up to 500km with two tanks of compressed hydrogen and has an impressive electric motor with 200 horse power. I encountered also on a mock-up picture of a possible Tesla-based RV from Spanish creators. Last but not least, Winnebago revealed their plans for an integrated (possibly) motorhome that would initially be used as a vehicle for different mobile services (dental, medical, book, events, and such). Camping is not in their plans yet due to its low range — just over 150km.

Although it seems as if motorhomes with an eco-friendly drive were somehow quite far away from general use, they are much closer than one would think. For me, it is important that such a vehicle gives me everything that a conventional one has. If that were the case, I would choose the green one over a conventional one any time. Preserving nature is very important to me. And as a cherry on top of a cake, I can charge it while I sleep. Much cheaper!