Look inside this startup’s self-propelled camper as camping goes electric

The $50 billion travel trailer industry is finally joining forces with the electric vehicle ecosystem. Incumbent companies like Winnebago and upstarts like Lightship and Pebble Mobility are not only electrifying their systems, but also changing the vehicle model itself.

As more Americans turn to electric cars, the trailer industry must evolve because towing drains the battery quickly. Battery consumption can make towing a camper van long distances with an electric vehicle prohibitive.

Californian startup Pebble Mobility has invented a self-propelled, self-propelled, remote-controlled trailer. The 25-foot vehicle seats four people and has its own electric motor. It propels itself, thus saving the power needed by the car that drags it.

“We have a generous EV battery on board and an integrated solar panel on the roof of the caravan, which helps harness renewable energy from the sun and power the entire vehicle,” said Bingrui Yang, CEO from Pebble.

Yang, an Apple veteran who helped build the iPhone, says he uses that knowledge to improve the RV experience.

“We brought an iPhone-like experience to RVing, automated the hardest part, like hitching, parking, towing, setting up the campsite, so everyone can easily access all the freedom that the campervan has to offer without any hassle,” he said.

The user can use the Pebble app to maneuver the trailer themselves, which is useful in tight spaces. This high-tech is a priority for investors, such as UpHonest Capital, who are seeing a generational shift in RV use, from baby boomers to millennials.

“This consumer group is very different from baby boomers: they are more tech-forward. They are tech-savvy, they want a better experience, they want a better toy experience. So they have completely different demands. different from those of the previous generation,” said Ellen Ma, managing director of UpHonest Capital.

In addition to UpHonest, Pebble is backed by Lightspeed and Vision Plus. So far, it has raised $13.6 million in funding.

Trailer pricing starts at $109,000 without the self-propelled engine. Possible tax credits could lower this figure. The motorized version starts at $125,000, which is comparable to other RVs. Yang said that as they continue to grow the business, they will offer more products at different price points, meeting consumers’ needs.

Using solar and battery power, Pebble’s makers say it can live off-grid for seven days, with no propane or generator required. Kitchen appliances, lights, air conditioning and everything else are completely electric. Pebble aims to deliver the first models in 2024.

— CNBC’s Lisa Rizzolo contributed to this article.

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