- Lightship’s L1 integrates an electric propulsion system and a large-capacity battery pack.
- Integrated solar panels help the L1’s battery pack maintain a charge.
- Deliveries of the roughly $125,000 L1 begin in late 2024.
There are many questions that keep us up at night. Does extraterrestrial life exist? Is peace on earth possible? How will we be able to tow a camper long distances with an electric vehicle?
The latter question is one that may soon have a solution, as several recreational vehicle manufacturers are working to integrate battery-electric propulsion into their products. The latest company to throw its hat into this ring is a startup called Lightship.
Founded by Ben Parker and Toby Kraus, who both spent half a decade at Tesla, Lightship aims to kick off production of its solar-powered battery-electric L1 camper trailer in late 2024. With an available 80.0-kWh battery pack (that’s usable capacity, per Lightship), the L1 can drive itself without taxing the electric motor(s) or internal combustion engine of the vehicle it’s connected to.
In theory, this means that the EV or ICE vehicle the L1s are connected to will experience no reduction in energy efficiency or driving range. However, we won’t really know how this plays out in the real world until we get our hands on an L1 of our own.
Regardless, Lighthouse estimates the L1’s large-capacity battery pack holds enough energy to push this camper an estimated 300 miles on a full charge at “highway speeds” (we suspect this estimate assumes towing speeds of 55 mph or so, and at 70 mph it figures will probably come in at 180 miles). The company also plans to equip the L1 with a number of solar panels, which Lightship says can generate up to 3 kW of power.
Although the solar panels can charge the battery pack, we suspect most L1 buyers will either charge the rig’s battery at home on a Level 1 or Level 2 charger or on the road with a DC quick charger. Those who tow an L1 with their EV may find it difficult to charge both their tow vehicle and L1 at the same time—or one after the other, since most chargers only extend so far—at a fast charger, and to do so can cause a few glances from other EV drivers looking for a charge. Still, it’s nice to know that L1 owners won’t have to wait hours on end to charge this camper on a slower AC charger or via its solar panels on long road trips.
The L1’s electric drivetrain may favor gas, diesel and battery-powered tow vehicles, but America’s burgeoning electric charging infrastructure means this low-sleeper is likely to garner a little extra interest from EV drivers looking to travel far. with their camper in tow. As we discovered during our testing, hooking up a 6,100-pound camper to a Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV pickup, and Rivian R1T, respectively, resulted in each electric truck’s driving range dropping by more than 50 percent compared to their unladen results on our 75-mph highway test.
If the solar-powered L1’s sleek looks and accompanying electric drivetrain are a combination that appeals to you, then this camper can be yours for around $125,000—and that’s not including the $6600 tax credit that Lightship claims the L1 qualifies for. Tax credit or not, the L1 is no small purchase.
On the plus side, interested buyers only need to put down $500 to secure a reservation for an L1. With deliveries still more than a year away, reservation holders have time to figure out a way to come up with the rest of the money needed to buy an L1.
Despite their shared last name, Greg Fink is not related to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s infamous Rat Fink. However, both Finks are known for their love of cars, car culture and – oddly enough – monogrammed one-piece bathing suits. Greg’s career in the media industry stretches back over a decade. His previous experience includes working as an editor at publications such as US News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Motor1.comand MotorTrend.