German caravan manufacturer Dethleffs unveiled this e.home at the most recent Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf:
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I saw it and thought, "Holy Cow. Imagine being able to cruise around the country and never have to pay for gas!" My misinformed reaction was further reinforced when I read what the GreenMatters blog had to say:
This motorhome is built for the open road, with a sleek design and head-to-toe solar panels so you never have to worry about finding the next charging station.
The motorhome would have a range just shy of 100 miles if it wasn't covered in solar panels, but it is. Those babies can make up to 3,000 watts of electricity for its 228-Ah battery. In other words, you're all good to just keep on going.
Then I looked into it further, and it turns out that the central premise of the two paragraphs above are not true. While the e.home does indeed generate a healthy amount of electricity from solar, and does have an electric drivetrain, the juice generated by the panels is not enough to drive the vehicle. Instead the electricity powers the interior living elements: Lighting, cooktop, heat, electric black-out windows, power outlets, et cetera. On the road, you'd still need to plug the vehicle in at charging stations to store enough electricity for the engine.
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Why build this, then, if it's not technically fully-functional? Because, as Dethleffs explains,
"The development is unstoppable--it's only a matter of time [before we can have solar-powered campers]. That's why it's important for us to get into the topic of electromobility right now to be prepared for the future [even] knowing that the current state of the art does not yet meet the requirements for a drive of a motorhome."