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Old 01-19-2022, 10:33 PM   #1
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New Airstream self powered trailer

I just noticed this post, looks like an April 1st news item !

https://electrek.co/2022/01/19/elect...iphone-moment/

Will Escape be coming out with one as well ?

Bob
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Old 01-19-2022, 10:43 PM   #2
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First thing I thought of..............

Laws of thermodynamics and all that...............


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Old 01-19-2022, 11:35 PM   #3
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I think it is brilliant as the tow vehicle could be a lower power vehicle.
As all concepts though, it will be tough to mass produce. The fuel cell require hydrogen .
Whoever cracks the cheap generation of hydrogen will solve the fossil fuels debacle.
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Old 01-20-2022, 12:21 AM   #4
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A battery-electric powered trailer as a sort of linked slave vehicle makes sense, in that the battery-electric tow vehicle (the master of the combination) would not need to have exceptionally high battery capacity (or power). When the extra load of the trailer is added, energy storage capacity and drive traction are also added.

The technical challenge is standardization of the integration between the tow vehicle and trailer.... in an industry where anything invented less than 50 years ago is generally considered too expensive and exotic to adopt.

The economic killer is paying tens of thousands of dollars for battery capacity which - for most travel trailer owners - is only used for a few weeks per year.
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Old 01-20-2022, 12:41 AM   #5
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I think it is brilliant as the tow vehicle could be a lower power vehicle.
I agree that the concept of a tow-able RV that 'pulls its own weight' (or makes a substantial contribution in that direction) is brilliant.

I have to think that the vast majority of RV tow-vehicles have substantial towing power capability that's utilized for only a small fraction of that vehicle's total miles. There's bound to be an efficiency penalty in that when that power is not utilized. Having the power needed to motivate the RV, optimally matched to the RV itself and contained in that RV, would seem a great opportunity for optimizing powertrain efficiency for the whole rig when towing and the vehicle alone when not towing.

Yep, lots of development required to realize that in a practical mass-produced package, and maybe a hydrogen fuel-cell isn't an element of the best answer, but I applaud Airstream for the effort to move the concept forward.
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Old 01-20-2022, 06:49 AM   #6
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I agree that the concept of a tow-able RV that 'pulls its own weight' (or makes a substantial contribution in that direction) is brilliant.

In some ways this concept makes a lot of sense, and in other ways it doesn't. Start with thinking about designing an electric car (BEV) from the standpoint of mission and edge cases.


A normal electric car is already a design problem. A normal day involves driving perhaps 50 miles round trip to work. That's a small, affordable battery. But every electric car owner worries about the edge case, driving 400 miles to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. So people want to lug around a 400 mile battery everywhere they go on their normal 50 mile commute.



A pickup truck is even worse. Same 50 mile daily commute, but now the edge case is 400 miles while pulling a huge trailer. That means the truck functionally needs an 800 mile battery. It isn't plausible.


So what makes sense is to put the additional capacity for the towing edge case into the towable vehicle itself. Why lug it around on the daily commute?


But here is where it doesn't make sense; You still have to pay for the auxiliary power (whether it is an additional battery or a fuel cell) on the towable, which is only used occasionally. The economics don't make sense. But the fact is the economics don't really work in general for BEV's and typical towing.


Oddly, a real tow vehicle like a semi makes more sense. Sure, it's hard to make a tow vehicle that can do 40 tons and huge daily mileage, but at least the daily use case is the same as the edge case. There is no light, commuting day for a semi. They are built to always run heavy and always run a lot of miles.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:02 AM   #7
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In some ways this concept makes a lot of sense, and in other ways it doesn't. Start with thinking about designing an electric car (BEV) from the standpoint of mission and edge cases.


A normal electric car is already a design problem. A normal day involves driving perhaps 50 miles round trip to work. That's a small, affordable battery. But every electric car owner worries about the edge case, driving 400 miles to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. So people want to lug around a 400 mile battery everywhere they go on their normal 50 mile commute.



A pickup truck is even worse. Same 50 mile daily commute, but now the edge case is 400 miles while pulling a huge trailer. That means the truck functionally needs an 800 mile battery. It isn't plausible.


So what makes sense is to put the additional capacity for the towing edge case into the towable vehicle itself. Why lug it around on the daily commute?


But here is where it doesn't make sense; You still have to pay for the auxiliary power (whether it is an additional battery or a fuel cell) on the towable, which is only used occasionally. The economics don't make sense. But the fact is the economics don't really work in general for BEV's and typical towing.


Oddly, a real tow vehicle like a semi makes more sense. Sure, it's hard to make a tow vehicle that can do 40 tons and huge daily mileage, but at least the daily use case is the same as the edge case. There is no light, commuting day for a semi. They are built to always run heavy and always run a lot of miles.

We own a Prius prime that gets 25 to 30 miles of battery only range which covers 90 percent of our local driving as we are retired. We like the model, excellent fuel economy when the battery depletes. Around 50 mpg. This model , especially, if the range can be extended makes a great deal of sense most local driving is gasoline free. Our philosophy has been drive the truck when the truck is needed: trailer hauling, music gigs, moving stuff. We are lucky to have the means to have multiple vehicles. That said I would like a way mor effecient truck.

I retired from the Park Service, and we had a demonstration fuel cell project 20 years ago that powered a good deal of a facility.

Lots of great minds working on this, however the laws of physics still apply.
While the self powered trailer concept may not be practical, the concept sure is cool.
I donated a 19th century building 5 years ago to the township, I was amazed at the small engine that was used to move this thing. Power applied exactly where it was needed.
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Old 01-20-2022, 10:37 AM   #8
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While the self powered trailer concept may not be practical, the concept sure is cool.
A very slow motor home?
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Old 01-20-2022, 12:37 PM   #9
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You were prescient

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We own a Prius prime that gets 25 to 30 miles of battery only range which covers 90 percent of our local driving as we are retired. We like the model, excellent fuel economy when the battery depletes. Around 50 mpg. This model , especially, if the range can be extended makes a great deal of sense most local driving is gasoline free.
Over a year ago I checked the Toyota dealer for a Prius Prime. The factory in Japan had been closed due to Covid and none were available or known when they would be.
A week ago I went back. None available anywhere, no known lead time to order one, and a $5,000 surcharge over MSRP, because.....they can, I guess.

I'd like one, but can't stomach that surcharge upcharge. Doesn't matter much. They're not out there, and I don't NEED one, just want one.

I wish you'd have warned me about this Covid pandemic thing earlier. Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future, I guess.
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Old 01-20-2022, 12:48 PM   #10
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Wow, what a concept. Tow an electric trailer with an electric truck. Have your house solar panel charge everything before you go. Have solar panels on trailer and truck recharge the batteries for a couple of days at the campsite. Cost would go up for the extra battery, but no gas charge. Nice concept...
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Old 01-20-2022, 03:18 PM   #11
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Wow, what a concept. Tow an electric trailer with an electric truck. Have your house solar panel charge everything before you go. Have solar panels on trailer and truck recharge the batteries for a couple of days at the campsite. Cost would go up for the extra battery, but no gas charge. Nice concept...
Hi: GeorgeB... It could be quite "Shocking"!!! Alf
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Old 01-20-2022, 03:48 PM   #12
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Hi: GeorgeB... It could be quite "Shocking"!!! Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
I was shocked when LEDs became the standard. I worked with LEDs when they were just a red and white lights to install on a panel. Lasers were just a red beam shot at mirrors and it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the beam. Now you can buy a laser at Lowes. Drones were just in comic books. Now our military flies them for 24 hours and are an effective killing machine. Boston Dynamics has robots that do amazing things. Normally the military robots are 10 years ahead of anything you see in public. I guess my point is...if money can be made then technology advances. A Tesla truck pulling an electric RV and getting recharged by the sun? Why not?
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Old 01-20-2022, 04:01 PM   #13
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In some ways this concept makes a lot of sense, and in other ways it doesn't. ....
I agree with all of your points, Jeffrey (all well stated ). Certainly, the challenges are greatest when the range of use-conditions ('edge-to-edge') of the tow vehicle are greatest.

That range is least with the semi-tractor application you mention, so it's not at all odd that situation is easiest to address efficiently. That's analogous to the RV rig of 'full-timers', when the tow vehicle is almost always dedicated to towing duty, yes?

It's the cases where the tow vehicle is expected to meet a wider range of conditions (towing and non-towing with a bias toward the latter) that seem to me compatible with the 'self-powered RV' concept. I don't suggest a reduction in capital cost for the rig overall, yes one must pay for the motive capability wherever it's placed in the rig.

And yes, the economics of RV'ing are a substantial luxury expense (non-sensical to some folks) with or without motive power included in the RV that spends much of its time not-in-service.

All I suggest is, that with further development and innovation of both tugs and trailers, and particularly within the realm of BEV's, the concept may hold promise of more efficient and cost-effective overall life-cycle operating benefits for those who enjoy the part-time towable RV lifestyle. E.g. 'dual purpose' tow vehicles with fewer / lesser compromises than we must endure today.

It's the hope and anticipation of that which earns Airstream my kudos for this early experiment.
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Old 01-20-2022, 08:06 PM   #14
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I think it is brilliant as the tow vehicle could be a lower power vehicle.
As all concepts though, it will be tough to mass produce. The fuel cell require hydrogen .
Whoever cracks the cheap generation of hydrogen will solve the fossil fuels debacle.
hydrogen generation requires more power than you get out of the hydrogen. TANSTAAFL. the most common means of producing hydrogen starts with natural gas (Methane aka CH4) and that 'more power' part is the difference between the energy of the original natural gas vs the lesser energy of the extracted hydrogen.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:39 AM   #15
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Over a year ago I checked the Toyota dealer for a Prius Prime. The factory in Japan had been closed due to Covid and none were available or known when they would be.
A week ago I went back. None available anywhere, no known lead time to order one, and a $5,000 surcharge over MSRP, because.....they can, I guess.

I'd like one, but can't stomach that surcharge upcharge. Doesn't matter much. They're not out there, and I don't NEED one, just want one.

I wish you'd have warned me about this Covid pandemic thing earlier. Predictions are hard to make, especially about the future, I guess.
We got ours in late 2018 and paid less than list. Even then they were hard to find. The gouging of dealers will eventually end. However, I am keeping a list of those egregious dealers in our area with a firm never doing business with them. All bubbles burst, they will become hungry again.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:42 AM   #16
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hydrogen generation requires more power than you get out of the hydrogen. TANSTAAFL. the most common means of producing hydrogen starts with natural gas (Methane aka CH4) and that 'more power' part is the difference between the energy of the original natural gas vs the lesser energy of the extracted hydrogen.
Yeah Iím aware of the issue. Hopefully someone will figure out a different methodology
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Old 01-21-2022, 05:53 AM   #17
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hydrogen generation requires more power than you get out of the hydrogen. TANSTAAFL. the most common means of producing hydrogen starts with natural gas (Methane aka CH4) and that 'more power' part is the difference between the energy of the original natural gas vs the lesser energy of the extracted hydrogen.

Conceptually, all hydrogen vehicle concepts for GHG reduction anticipate that the hydrogen will have to be manufactured with electrolysis, and the power will have to be solar / wind.


Steam reforming of methane is the current approach because it is cheaper and people looking for hydrogen right now are using it in processes, not trying to use it as a replacement fuel with no GHG impact.


Can a GHG-free hydrogen infrastructure be created, and costs managed? Very big maybe.


All of the so-called e-fuels require a LOT more energy to make than they contain. It's one reason I believe BEV vehicles have a decisive lead in being the technology of choice for anything that can possibly use them.
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Old 01-21-2022, 08:39 AM   #18
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Conceptually, all hydrogen vehicle concepts for GHG reduction anticipate that the hydrogen will have to be manufactured with electrolysis, and the power will have to be solar / wind.


Steam reforming of methane is the current approach because it is cheaper and people looking for hydrogen right now are using it in processes, not trying to use it as a replacement fuel with no GHG impact.


Can a GHG-free hydrogen infrastructure be created, and costs managed? Very big maybe.


All of the so-called e-fuels require a LOT more energy to make than they contain. It's one reason I believe BEV vehicles have a decisive lead in being the technology of choice for anything that can possibly use them.
My understanding is that Iceland has been using its ample geothermal energy to drive the hydrolysis process to generate hydrogen in a clean manner for quite a while. Maybe we need to look at places that have an "excess" of clean energy and use hydrolysis as a storage medium.

Like many "green" and "emission free" sources of energy you need to look at the whole supply chain. Is the energy for your electric car made by burning coal? What are the elements in our batteries and solar panels? How are they mined and how is the product disposed of when they are spent? It CAN be done but we have to remember to look at the WHOLE picture.
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Old 01-21-2022, 08:52 AM   #19
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My understanding is that Iceland has been using its ample geothermal energy to drive the hydrolysis process to generate hydrogen in a clean manner for quite a while. Maybe we need to look at places that have an "excess" of clean energy and use hydrolysis as a storage medium.
It's true that the best way to think of hydrogen is simply as an energy storage medium. It has some advantages over batteries (quicker to fuel a vehicle, can carry more energy with you) and some disadvantages (there is literally no large scale manufacture and distribution infrastructure).

Quote:
Like many "green" and "emission free" sources of energy you need to look at the whole supply chain. Is the energy for your electric car made by burning coal? What are the elements in our batteries and solar panels? How are they mined and how is the product disposed of when they are spent? It CAN be done but we have to remember to look at the WHOLE picture.
Interestingly enough, a BEV passenger car has a lower GHG emission content than a gasoline or diesel vehicle, based simply on the current mix of electricity generation in the US.

And the market is shutting down coal and installing renewable energy in an ongoing fashion due to cost considerations. Coal is not economically competitive, even without counting negative externalities.


The rest of the manufacture of vehicles is worth considering, but sometimes I think people focus overmuch on mining of battery materials while ignoring the very similar environmental costs of oil exploration and recovery.
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Old 01-21-2022, 10:14 AM   #20
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I recall watching one of Escapeís recent YouTube videos where Karl discusses this very conceptÖ.and he speculated that some form of electric assist technology may very well be commonplace within the towable RV industry in the future. So yes, it might very well be an option available on a 2030-something model ETI trailer.

My biggest concern is the ability to implement that technology at an affordable price point. If you already have the means to purchase a $100K+ luxury Airstream trailer to tow behind your Tesla, itís likely that a $20K+ price premium to equip that trailer with electric assist isnít going to make that purchase prohibitively expensive.

However, add that same $20k propulsion assist system to a $30-$50K trailer, and the price jump is going to be rather significant for the portion of the market where most consumers (and Escape owners) reside.
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