This Airstream Camper Concept Uses Electric Motors to Reverse on Its Own

The last thing most people think a trailer needs is a drivetrain of its own—that’d make it an RV, no? Well, maybe there’s a case to be made for one that can move on its own after all, as long as it can make hitching, towing, and backing up smoother the way the Airstream-based Thor Estream does.

At the 2022 Florida RV SuperShow, Airstream’s parent company Thor Industries revealed a concept for a trailer with a dual-motor electric drivetrain, which streamlines every step of the towing process. Its remote-controlled motors can maneuver it into place to simplify hitching up, then draw power from onboard lithium-ion batteries to propel it along on the road, reducing the penalty to the tow vehicle’s efficiency and driving range.

https://youtu.be/l-jExmPklKs

On the move, Thor says the Estream’s drivetrain improves its stability, though it didn’t specify how. Presumably, it relies on regenerative tech that effectively gives the Estream torque-vectoring trailer braking and sway control. Sounds useful out on the gusty plains.

Once at its destination and unhitched, the Estream can use that same remote-controlled powertrain to reverse on its own, avoiding that awkward dance of reversing with one’s tow rig. When stationary, the Estream can hook into a local power supply, or simply continue drawing power from its batteries to power onboard amenities, which mysteriously include Amazon’s Alexa. (I thought the idea of sleeping in a camper was to get away from that horrible omnipresent Bezos Bot, but what do I know.)

Hopefully, Thor will rethink allowing Alexa if it decides to bring the Estream to production, as it’s only a concept for the time being. Given Airstream customers’ deep pockets, though, I can easily see them splashing out on a trailer this gadget-filled, even if it costs more than a San Francisco apartment.

Thor Industries Estream concept

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