Will diesel motorhomes be banned?

In today’s article, we will explore the following topic: Will diesel motorhomes be banned? We will discuss the future of motorhomes and the possibility of driving a fully electric caravan. 

Will diesel motorhomes be banned?

Yes, diesel motorhomes will be banned from 2030 onwards. RV and caravan manufacturers will have until 2050 to switch from diesel to zero-emission motorhomes. 

The intention of this initiative is that in 2050 no vehicle that emits CO2 will circulate, hence the registration ban from 2040. This is due to the pact sealed in 2015 at the Paris summit against climate change, to prevent the temperature rise on the planet exceeding two degrees Celsius.

The Government has released the news with a reasonable period in advance so that the automotive sector can adapt to this new situation without causing large losses, neither employment nor financial. 

To facilitate this law, short-term measures have been promoted, such as the installation of charging points for electric vehicles at gas stations. The Government will not prohibit the circulation of combustion vehicles on that date, but the municipalities and autonomous communities will be able to do so.

But all these new laws should not worry us since the first electric caravans and motorhomes are already beginning to be developed, the solution for electric car drivers who do not want to give up travelling in a motorhome.

An example is the Dethleffs e.home coco, a sleek little trailer with a base-mounted lithium battery, and a dual-motor axle designed to reduce trailer demands, add mobile capacity, and provide road manoeuvrability advantages at camping areas.

Erwin Hymer Group has developed an electric trailer that reduces the power that the caravan needs to be transported by providing motive power to it:

  • Dethleffs adds electrical energy to a camping trailer so that it is not passive and therefore easier to tow, since the weight that the vehicle must transport is reduced. 
  • The battery sends power to the electrified axle, which has a 40 kW motor on each wheel. 
  • Solar panels on the roof of the caravan help keep the battery charged.

The great advantage of a caravan having electric motors on its wheels is the reduction of the trailer load for the main vehicle. The intelligent control electronics of the E. Home Coco manage the electric motors and reduce the effective weight of the tow vehicle. 

So instead of towing, say, a 907 kg trailer, the tow vehicle is towing a much lesser amount of weight. This ease of towing the Coco E. Home allows a small vehicle without much power to tow it just like any electric car.

The only electric caravans arrive: caravans without gas

In this latest edition of the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, some manufacturers, such as Weinsberg, presented their 100% electric caravans as a novelty. In the age of the electric car, do not confuse the electric car with the electric caravan. 

The first refers to its propulsion system, powered by electrical energy compared to the classic fossil fuel, be it gasoline or diesel, while in the case of caravans there is no mention of vehicle propulsion (although we have already seen caravan projects that, in the future, they will be able to “help” the tractor in the tow), but the energy system of the caravan, both in lighting, heating and cooking.

In this Caravan Salon 2020, we could see the new Weinsberg CaraCito all-electric, with the motto “The first caravan without gas“. 

Gone are the primitive all gas caravans where the kitchen worked on gas, but also the interior lighting was based on gas lanterns, and the most common is that the caravans have a mixed electric/gas system where the lighting usually works at 12 / 220V, like the water pumps, the gas cooker, a 220V electric microwave, gas heating, a possible electric air conditioning and a trivalent refrigerator that works both at 220V for when you are camping, 12V for when gas is already circulated for when we don’t have electricity.

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The aforementioned CaraCito is presented to us as a caravan without gas cylinders and with exclusively electrical equipment. For this, it includes a 220V glass-ceramic cooker, a 60-litre electric refrigerator (12 / 220V) with a compressor and an air conditioning system with heating and cooling with air circulation, also electric.

The first question we ask ourselves about this possible new trend is… is an electric-only caravan more interesting? The answer, as is often the case, is … it depends:

If you are one of those who panic about gas (there are people who do not have a gas installation in their usual home for that reason, and everything has electricity), this option will give you the peace of mind you are looking for, but think that gas installations in caravans they are very safe: the cylinders are insulated from the inside, the pipes go outside and both the kitchen and the heating system have automatic gas cut-off devices if they are turned off.

If the reason is ecological, it is true that the gas in cylinders comes from liquefied petroleum, and is more polluting than other sources of clean energy, but it must be taken into account that not all electrical supplies come from renewable sources, even more from half of the electricity is generated in non-renewable plants. 

If the origin is not renewable, think that the calorific value of liquefied gas is very high and effective for the use of a heater or a kitchen, especially for small places such as caravans.

In practice, if you are always going to use your caravan in a campsite, in an area without supply problems, with a mild climate or you are not going to use it in winter, so you do not need heating, the exclusive use of electricity may be interesting to you. 

But if you plan to make long trips, where you may have to spend the night outside a campsite or you simply plan to spend the night in places without electricity connection, you will not be able to use the kitchen or the heating. 

The same happens if you go to a mountain place, where electricity cuts abound, especially in times of storm, it may come time for dinner and you will not be able to prepare it. 

And if you think about having an autonomous system installed with solar panels and batteries, keep in mind that both a ceramic hob and heating have very high consumption, and your three-day charge can be spent in a single-use.

Our recommendation is more for mixed systems. Bringing a gas stove and microwave allows us to cook with gas or electricity, depending on the needs. If you stop to eat at a highway rest area, for example, you can fry an egg or make yourself a coffee on the gas stove. 

If you have air conditioning and gas heating, the same thing will happen to you, you will always have a system available, and also with the refrigerator: a trivalent will allow you to travel keeping it cold at 12V, spend the night in an area without electricity, running on gas, and connect it to 220V when you arrive at a campsite. 

Although a compressor refrigerator, such as the one in the CaraCito, tends to cool more quickly than absorption trivalent, they have the disadvantage of being less silent and do not run on gas. But don’t worry, if you liked the Weinsberg CaraCito, they are also available on gas.

What is the future of motorhomes?

The automotive world is changing a lot lately and it is that, after many years of development, in which the most advanced technologies did not seem to reach the end-user, we are finally starting to be able to enjoy greener vehicles, as a result of the growth in the demand that these begin to experiment.

In the recreational vehicle sector, however, we are still stuck with internal combustion engines and it seems that none of the existing technologies is capable of satisfying the needs of a motorhome. 

Certainly, the batteries of electric vehicles offer more and more autonomy, but the problem in our case is that, when we stop, we continue to consume energy, so we would need a supply source to plug into at each stop, something that is not always simple. 

On the other hand, LPG engines do not offer sufficient autonomy figures either, since the required tank volume is too large, and hybrids do not seem to be a valid alternative in recreational vehicles.

Despite the obvious appeal of fuel cell vehicles, we are still a long way from being able to acquire and use one of them in the same conditions as a combustion vehicle. Its development is in the hands of automotive companies interested in its commercialization, but at least, as far as the sector is concerned, it offers a real alternative to how our vehicles could be in the not too distant future.

What do you think? Would you try a full-electric motorhome? Let us know what you think!

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