tai in etrek

New eco-friendly, all electric eTrek Class B Motorhome now available

Roadtrek Motorhome’s new e-Trek is now showing up in dealer showrooms across North America and I just may be the very first consumer to take possession.

Or so Chad Neff of American RV in Grand Rapids told me as he handed over the keys to Jennifer and I. Tai, our Norwegian Elkhound, had already ensconced himself inside. tai in etrek

My trek for the eTrek began in September when I went to the Roadtrek factory in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada to do a video news story on the new model, built on the Mercedes Sprinter frame. It’s 22 feet nine inches long and nine feet five inches tall on a 170-inch wheelbase.

mike and Jennifer and Tai with new eTrekAt heart, Jennifer and I are boondockers. We prefer camping deep in the woods, away from crowded campgrounds. Because the eTrek can totally power itself with a bank of eight AGM batteries, a rooftop solar array capable of putting out 240 watts, a 5000 watt inverter for 110 appliances and a diesel system that works as a generator to very quickly charge the system, it means that we can run everything we need – heat, air conditioning, TV, DVD, the water pump, even the mircowave – for up to nine hours without having to start the engine to charge those batteries. That’s running everything, all at once. In real conditions, that doesn’t happen.

“You can totally charge everything by just running the engine for 20 minutes to a half hour,” said Howard Stratton, Roadtrek’s vice president of operations when we visited the factory this past monday to work on a video about other Roadtrek developments.

How is that possible? The eTrek utilizes a 3500W generator/alternator mounted to the van’s diesel engine that can charge eight dead auxiliary batteries in only 40 minutes.

There are two optons we did not get: an 100W EFOY methanol fuel cell generator and three lithium ion batteries that would save weight over the eight AGM batteries.

While there, we saw the Roadtrek assembly crew putting the finishing touches on the unit we would get  three days later through our dealer in Grand Rapids.

welcome signI wish I could give you all a full shake down review on the eTrek. But it is wintertime and as we left Grand Rapids to drive back to our suburban Detroit home, we were being chased by a huge winter storm named Draco, which deluged parts of the Midwest and northern Michigan with up to 20 inches of snow.

Our 155 mile trip was in pretty stiff winds. Immediately I notice how well it handled. The 2006 Roadtrek RS that I traded in (it’s available at AMerican RV) has single rear wheels. The eTrek, like later model Sprinters, has dualies. I’m not sure if that was why it seemed to be more stable or it was just that new RV love affair I had going. We returned home around dark and by morning, we had two inches of snow on the ground.

Hmmm. Do solar panels charge when covered in snow?

I took the eTrek out for my last-minute Christmas shopping errands. The roads were slick in spots but I found it handled well and had no tendency to skid on the icy spots. All that weight helps, I guess. The eTrek’s weight, not mine.

I spent time this afternoon running everything I could as I familiarized myself with switches. The heat, pushed out through the air conditioning unit in the ceiling, warmed it to a pretty comfortable 63 degrees after an hour’s use. Outside, it was about 25 degrees, with a very stiff wind making the wind chill much less. We’ll see how it heats with that unit in some further tests. Because there is no propane, the usual forced air heater than ran on propane is absent on the eTrek.

I did not use the water pump or the instant hot feature. It hasn’t been winterized yet but since those systems are dry, I was told not to worry. I’m thinking I may want to put some antifreeze in the traps anyway.

I’ve got a lot more inside putzing to do so I can be sure I know where everything is and how it works. We leave for Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida right after the first of the year, so full tests are coming shortly.

 


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13 comments

  1. Donna

    Oh congratulations! I’m sure you will love it and I will be looking forward to hearing about your adventures! Thanks so much for sharing! Merry Christmas

  2. Rob't

    The new eTrek certainly looks interesting. I’ve been wondering where they put all those batteries? Llooking forward to reading your stories about your new eTrek!.

  3. Mike Wendland
    Author

    Rob’t… on mine there are two batteries up front… two on the driver’s side about a third of the way back and four mounted under the floor, mid-coach. Other configs have them running under the floor in one long bank, down the underside middle.

  4. bobojay

    Mike told me to leave this comment. Being a 4+ yr Sprinter RV owner , just a little heads up.
    From 3 different dealers and a Mercedes rep from Germany that was up at the big Winnebago rally last year, one of the worst things you can do to the V^ Sprinter, is to let it idle for more than 10 minutes without putting a load on it or driving it for awhile. Idling clogs up the EGR valve faster, which when it gets clogged, puts the vehicle into the Limp Home Mode. This means a trip to a Mercedes dealer to get a replacement EGR. Can’t be fixed on the side of the road, or by just any shop.
    It’s a warranty repair though

  5. Kristi

    Congrats Mike & Jenn! This is going to be one fun machine! I enjoy these videos from American RV … everything is so familiar. The E-Trek is great for all its E features, but I have to say I LUV the pillows … did they come with the ET?

  6. Leonard

    .Try as I might I just can’t believe these claims? Have you run everything on batteries overnight and put this to the test? I realize you live in Michigan but how aabout running the heater and TV and a computer and other appliances? If this really lasts as long as claimed on battery power, I’ll trade in my ’08 Monaco class A! I’ve been wanting to downsize anyway. When will you test this out, Mr. Wendland?

  7. Mike Wendland
    Author

    Too cold to camp out in my driveway, Leonard – 18 degrees last night! But we’re heading south on a multistate tour right after the first of the year, so there will be ample time to really test it out. But I’m told by Radtrek to expect 9-12 hours of use with a full battery charge which then supposedly recharges after 20-30 minutes of engine running. So if you, say, camp at Walmart overnight or some boondocking spot, everything will easily run off the batteries all night. Then you head out to your next destination and the batteries are charged and you’re good for another night. We’ll try both of those, Walmarts and boondocking in KY and TN. I’m going to spend a couple of nights doing some photography and video in the woods of southwest Georgia, then on to FL.
    Meantime, I have some shopping to do. Looking for a K-cup coffee maker for the RT. A wireless thermometer for out and in temps. A small clock with a battery light for checking the time in the middle of the night. Some stick-on levels. All the fun little things that make a motorhome a home. We’ve got sheets, towels, dishes, cookgear etc from the ’06 RS we traded in. So need to pack all that stuff. Stay tuned….

  8. Gary Egbert

    Mike and Jennifer,
    Congratulations on your new purchase. I hope it works well for y our travels and am anxious to hear how the electrical systems work. I do have a question about what you said about charging dead batteries with the engine. I understand how driving 20-30 minu tes will recharge them as that is what we do in our 2008 RS. However, we never let our batteries go below about 50 percent based on the battery indicator. Will these bateries really be allowed to become fully discharged or is the term dead used here a misnomer? Also, I agree with an earlier response that idling the MB engine for extended periods is bad for the EGR system. Has this been some how mitigated in this model?

  9. Eve Dumovich

    I am interested to see how the e-trek using lythium ion batteries fares during rugged road trips. These batteries, as we know, have already caused problems when used on passenger planes and the Roadtrek engineers have had other design issues in the past.

    (From Wikipedia) Research indicates Lithium-ion batteries can rupture, ignite, or explode when exposed to high temperature. Short-circuiting a battery will cause the cell to overheat and possibly to catch fire. Adjacent cells may then overheat and fail, possibly causing the entire battery to ignite or rupture. In the event of a fire, the device may emit dense irritating smoke.Replacing the lithium cobalt oxide cathode material in lithium-ion batteries with a lithium metal phosphate such as lithium iron phosphate, improves cycle counts, shelf life and safety, but lowers capacity.
    Lithium-ion batteries normally contain safety devices to protect the cells from disturbance. However, contaminants inside the cells can defeat these safety devices.