Electromobility is a topic on which one hears the most diverse opinions. Many people are still sceptical and wonder where all the electricity is supposed to come from, whether electric cars are really more environmentally friendly when all production factors are taken into account, and doubt the practicable range.
Owners of electric cars are usually enthusiastic and don't want to use anything else, and enquiries about the possibilities of towing an Airstream with an electric vehicle have increased significantly with the new generation of vehicles. We therefore took the opportunity to form our own opinion. We combined the Volvo XC40 Recharge with our smallest cult Airstream, the Bambi 16.
The Bambi 16 has an unladen weight of 1400KG and a permissible gross weight of 1800KG. This also corresponds to the permissible trailer load of the Volvo XC40 Recharge. With 408hp and 660NM torque, this is significantly more powerful than most of the traditional towing vehicles in this size and has a 78 kWh battery.
For the driving test, we tried out a wide variety of route profiles and settings for recuperation this week. For our consumption test, we drove the same route with a mixture of country roads, dual carriageways and motorways with significant gradients several times on different days. This test makes no claim to general validity; we simply wanted to get a feel for the practical consumption of the towing vehicle.
Our Volvo XC40 Recharge impressed not only with its great performance data, but also with its good workmanship and equipment. The large touch display in portrait format provides important settings and data on driving operation as well as a high entertainment value and is based on the Android Automotive operating system. With the help of Google's voice control, most functions can be called up directly and the maps from Google Maps are displayed very well in the 12-inch dashboard display. For the range of the vehicle, the 2188 kg kerb weight is not helpful, but it is perfect as a towing vehicle. And it also easily allows a 100KM/H registration for the towing vehicle. A very relaxed driving experience sets in after a few minutes. Power and torque are more than sufficient in every situation. Even on the notorious Elzer Berg, overtaking trucks and accelerating without an excited engine noise is child's play. In terms of recuperation, i.e. the recovery of energy through braking, we decided on the gentle "sail" mode after a few trials. In this mode, less energy is dissipated in the trailer's overrun brake. Nevertheless, the energy recovery is clearly noticeable in the range on longer downhill stretches.
Consumption and range:
On our 50 km test round, we measured consumption values between 29.6 kW and 38 kW on different days. The higher consumption values were certainly also a result of the initial euphoria, joy of acceleration and trying out different recuperation settings. We achieved the value of 29.6 under fairly optimal conditions, no wind, dry road and 20 degrees outside temperature. For our analysis, we assume an average consumption of 33 kWh.
If the battery is charged to 100% at the beginning of the journey, approx. 80% of the usable capacity of 75 kWh is available for the first stage. This corresponds to approx. 60 kWh or approx. 180 km driving distance, for which you need approx. 2.5 hours. After that, the first charging stop is due, during which the battery should be charged between 20% and 80% in approx. 40 minutes, which then gives a renewed range for the next two hours of driving.
So for a typical day trip of 600KM, you would need at least three charging stops with a good half hour charge each. For less range anxiety, perhaps even four stops or a longer charging stop with which the battery is also charged over 80% is recommended? Ultimately, the breaks with the Airstream can also be more flexible and comfortable than a mere fuel stop or a quick lunch at the motorway service station.
The Volvo XC40 Recharge impressed us with its driving characteristics and comfort in towing mode. The limited range certainly takes some getting used to, but is certainly feasible for customers who want to pull their Airstream electrically. For these customers, the question of electric car or combustion engine no longer arises. The electric vehicle is already "set" and now it is only a question of whether there is a suitable Airstream to go with it. From our point of view, the lightest models Bambi 16, Airstream 534 and also the Basecamp 16 are quite suitable as a combination with electric towing vehicles. Our customers who want a larger Airstream model or are not interested in an electric towing vehicle can continue to use the familiar combustion engine or hybrid concepts. We are happy to advise all customers according to their wishes!