Electric vehicles (EVs) capable of replacing the combustion engine have been in the pipeline for years. Engineering success has been fleeting, but now it appears as though victory is on the horizon. Within the next couple of years, car buyers should have an ample selection of EVs to choose from.
Those vehicles will still have their limitations. For example, towing a full-size RV will be out of the question. Towing a small camper trailer may not be. According to a New Atlas article published in May 2019, an ultralight teardrop trailer currently in the design and testing stage of development could be the answer camping enthusiasts are hoping for.
The trailer has been developed around two core concepts: weight reduction and maximum use of space. Its teardrop design offers the added benefit of streamlined fuel efficiency. Making it all possible is that wonder material so many manufacturers are turning to: carbon fiber.
It Has to Be Light
If you have been following EV development all along, you know one of the biggest problems that engineers face is that of range. The heavier an EV is, the more energy required to move it. Thus, weight affects range. Engineers know they have to come up with a design approaching a range of 300 miles if they are to compete with gasoline-powered cars.
Engineering problems get more complicated when you add towing a trailer. The extra weight of the trailer, along with the drag it creates, further inhibits range. So in order to make a camping trailer practical enough for EVs, the overall weight of the vehicle has to be kept in check. That is where carbon fiber comes in.
Rock West Composites, a Salt Lake City supplier of carbon fiber and other composite materials, explains that carbon fiber is half as heavy as aluminum and up to five times lighter than steel. Yet it is stronger than both. It is a natural choice for trailer bodies when designers want maximum strength and minimum weight.
The only thing is that carbon fiber is also expensive. So this trailer also includes another revolutionary composite made from chicken feathers. This secondary material is not nearly as strong or rigid as carbon fiber, so it is only used for parts that don’t have to be as strong. To the extent it can be used, the chicken feather material reduces costs.
It Has to Be Roomy
Size is another factor when designing a camping trailer for compact cars and EVs. Simply put, you have to keep size in check. How do you do that and still build a camping trailer people actually want? By making the interior as roomy as possible.
The trailer in question features a typical teardrop profile when in transit. When parked, the roof opens with two gull-wing panels outfitted with nylon and mosquito nets to keep out bugs. Suddenly you have standing room and beautiful views of the sky.
Inside, the trailer is minimally appointed. There is enough floor space to accommodate two bedding areas as well as a minimalist kitchen space that pulls out from the back. Everything is completely collapsible and stowable in order to create a completely open space capable of hauling whatever cargo can fit inside.
The trailer is still a long way from full production. When it is finally ready to go, it is supposed to be practical enough for compact cars and EVs alike. Thanks to ultralight weight and some very creative design, campers who want to continue enjoying their hobby while also embracing the EV movement will be able to do so without compromise.