JACKSON CENTER, Ohio – Airstream Inc., maker of the iconic riveted aluminum travel trailers and best-in-class touring coaches, today (March 9) unveiled a concept travel trailer developed in partnership with legendary design firm Studio F. A. Porsche.
The concept will be showcased at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas beginning on March 10, with a panel discussion on March 13, according to a release.
The Airstream Studio F. A. Porsche Concept Travel Trailer is the result of a “what if” collaboration between two expert teams with decades of combined design experience. The Studio F. A. Porsche team was charged with envisioning a next-generation Airstream trailer that incorporated elements from the design playbooks of both brands. The process engaged Studio F. A. Porsche designers in Zell am See, Austria, and Los Angeles in a steady back-and-forth with Airstream designers and engineers at the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Jackson Center, Ohio.
Brought to life through photorealistic renderings, a 1/3 scale model, and computer-assisted aerodynamic testing, the project resulted in a conceptual evolution to Airstream’s iconic riveted aluminum look that’s unlike any previous design. Among the concept’s many innovative ideas, the design addresses changing demographics in the RV market by utilizing a pop-up roof for additional interior headroom and a lowering suspension that allows city dwellers to store the trailer in a standard residential garage.
“Innovation is the art of discovering the possible,” said Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler. “Our collaboration with Studio F. A. Porsche brought talented new eyes and minds to our never-ending process of improving the Airstream experience. It’s a fresh design approach aimed at reaching a broader, more diverse base of potential customers.”
“Our design team has long wanted to partner with Airstream,” said Roland Heiler, Managing Director of Studio F. A. Porsche and Chief Design Officer of the Porsche Lifestyle Group. “More than 20 years ago, when my family lived in Southern California, we owned a 1964 Airstream Overlander. That’s when I met Bob Wheeler for the first time at a vintage trailer show in Newport Beach. For me Airstream has always been an iconic brand that has thrived by evolving its products while remaining true to its design DNA – an approach very similar to the philosophy of
Studio F. A. Porsche. So, it is not difficult to imagine that we were more than excited when the idea to develop a new iteration of Airstream’s travel trailers finally became reality.”
The concept will be showcased at Porsche’s SXSW exhibit where Airstream and Porsche Lifestyle Group executives will unveil a 1/3 scale model of the trailer and a Porsche Macan tow vehicle. Porsche’s 2023 SXSW theme is ‘Porsche X,’ which emphasizes collaboration. The legendary automotive brand is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023.
The concept design integrates numerous advances in aerodynamics, including a new rear shape that is intended to improve air flow while in motion, a flush underside with reduced drag-creating projections, the first-ever lowering suspension in an Airstream travel trailer design, and the first insulated pop-up roof in Airstream’s history. Essential systems are incorporated inside the concept’s chassis and interior, resulting in a sleek exterior that is intended to reduce protrusions that create aerodynamic drag. The ducted air conditioning, a prominent feature of many RV rooftops, is located above the concept’s floor. Several systems are tucked inside the 10-inch-deep space below the floor, including the hot water and heating components, spare wheel, holding tanks, and the lithium battery.
As conceived, this small-footprint concept travel trailer is intended to have improved aerodynamic characteristics from other Airstream travel trailers currently in production. These improved aerodynamic characteristics were validated by a third-party aerodynamics research firm. 1 The improved aerodynamic performance is a result of the low ride height made possible by the pop-up roof design, lowering suspension, fewer rooftop protrusions, a smaller frontal area as compared to other Airstream travel trailers currently in production, and lighter weight from composite materials like carbon fiber. One intended result of these design modifications is a better towing experience optimized for towing with electric vehicles (EVs).
“Like earlier concept vehicles, the Airstream Studio F. A. Porsche Concept Travel Trailer builds on Airstream’s design DNA and our commitment to aerodynamics to create a vision that is both familiar and excitingly new,” said Wheeler. “While our concept projects don’t always reach the marketplace, the resulting lessons and innovations often influence present and future designs as they make their way into our main product lines.”
The concept is the first “garageable” Airstream design in the company’s 90-year history. Working in tandem, the pop-up roof reduces overhead clearance while the adjustable suspension in the chassis allows the trailer’s body to be lowered, enabling storage in some home garages. This capability makes ownership much easier for a broader range of customers. The chassis’ ride height can also be adjusted to improve aerodynamic efficiency or enhance off-road maneuverability.
The concept’s innovative design extends to its interior, where the team collaborated to maximize the use of space and dramatically enhance the owner experience. The extensive use of windows and skylights creates a spacious interior feel and connects owners with the beauty of their surroundings.
Building on the current popularity of the rear hatch option in select Airstream travel trailers, the concept trailer’s redesigned rear hatch features a new two-piece design, with a hinge-up hatch and a drop-down tailgate. Awnings can be attached to the hatch to create a shady place to relax and plan the next adventure. This conceptual design extends the interior living space, connecting travelers with their surroundings and allowing for easy loading of adventure gear.
The concept travel trailer features a floor plan unlike other Airstream units, including a rear seating area that transforms from dining to working to relaxing space. The versatile seating area quickly converts from dinette seating to a large 82” x 61” sleeping area. Reclining seat options allow owners to enjoy the views through the open hatch.
The wet bath, incorporated into the front roadside corner, features a door that creates an enclosed, private area and swings freely to hide the toilet when it’s not in use. This clever design opens up more space in the adjacent galley, where a hinge-up counter extends in front of the main entry door to expand the available counterspace. These ingenious design elements create a sizable L-shaped workspace that rivals what’s found in many larger travel trailers.
RVing has recently boomed in popularity as people seek safe, self-directed travel experiences. The Airstream Studio F.A. Porsche Concept Travel Trailer is a flexible and easy-to-tow travel trailer that facilitates such adventure. It’s comfortable in a variety of camping destinations – from a campground with full hookups to the off-grid wilderness, where integrated rooftop solar panels and a lithium battery system work together to store energy for later use.
Notes: 1: Independent computer fluid dynamics (CFD) testing was completed by an aerodynamics research firm using the concept vehicle’s 3D data. This was compared to the 3D data from an Airstream 28RB travel trailer as well as an Airstream Basecamp 20X. All CFD testing was completed using the same methodology at 65 MPH with a 4.5° crosswind.
Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” Airstream travel trailer, is the longest-tenured recreational vehicle manufacturer in the world. The company’s mission, as set forth by founder Wally Byam, is to create well-designed, high-quality products that allow people to follow their dreams and explore the world in home-like comfort. A steadfast commitment to Byam’s creed, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements,” has made the aluminum Airstream travel trailer a timeless classic. An unwavering focus on innovation keeps the company at the forefront of technology and customer experience in both the towable and motorized sectors. Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio, where a team of skilled craftspeople hand builds each travel trailer and upfits every touring coach, adding daily to the brand’s reputation for quality and innovation. Learn more about Airstream, our dealers, and current travel trailer and touring coach models at www.airstream.com. For the latest news on Airstream, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Airstream, Inc. is an operating company of Elkhart, Ind.-based THOR Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO). THOR is the sole owner of operating companies which, combined, represent the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles. For more information on THOR Industries and its products, please visit www.thorindustries.com.
ABOUT STUDIO F. A. PORSCHE
Studio F. A. Porsche is one of the leading design studios worldwide for product, mobility and interior design. Founded by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche in 1972, the Studio has stood for a perfect symbiosis of form and function ever since. For over 50 years the Studio has stayed true to its values: functionality, purism, perfection, relevance and passion. Today Studio F. A. Porsche creates products for select clients worldwide and premium design innovations for its own brand – Porsche Design. The Studio is a subsidiary of the Porsche Lifestyle Group, with its headquarters in Zell am See, Austria, and design offices in Berlin, Ludwigsburg, Los Angeles and Singapore. In 2021, Studio F. A. Porsche was awarded the honorary title “Red Dot: Design Team of the Year”. For further information, please visit studiofaporsche.com.