Harbinger’s New EV Motorhome Chassis Touts 300-Mile Range

The Harbinger EV chassis on display at the Detroit International Auto Show.

While the RV Industry is preoccupied with the annual Elkhart RV Open House this week, one of the most potentially game-changing new products for motorized RVs was unveiled last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

RVBusiness was there to see firsthand the Harbinger EV chassis.

Certainly, EVs have been grabbing a lot of press as of late. And some of that press appears to express wishful thinking. However, that’s not to say motorhomes built on an EV chassis will not be viable or gain popularity – and possibly sooner than we expect. In fact, the executives at Los Angeles-based Harbinger are betting that they will.

Harbinger Cofounder and CEO John Harris

Harbinger co-founder and CEO John Harris noted that the two chassis the company was displaying at the auto show were not concept vehicles but actual working models that will soon head to the test track to start validation.

“I know some might say we sound like another EV startup promising the world, and that’s why you’re just hearing from us now,” Harris said. “We wanted to build it first and then show it to you.”

Company executives claim their chassis have several significant benefits compared to gas or diesel chassis.

First, the price will be comparable to existing internal combustion engine-powered units. Harbinger is not merely an assembler of existing parts. Like an automaker, it engineers, designs and controls the manufacturing of the components. This includes the suspension, motor, controllers and batteries. All of which help the company meet its pricing and quality goals.

Second, for a 228-inch wheelbase chassis, the vehicle range will be around 300 miles, a distance Harbinger says most motorhome owners would find reasonable. With longer wheelbases, the range goes up. Harbinger achieves this by integrating more battery modules into the space,  manufacturing its own batteries in the United States, and controlling the process to the finest detail

Third, more useable storage space is achieved by placing the batteries and the electric drive inside the frame rails. What’s more, in the Harbinger design, the real estate forward of the driver’s cabin is freed up for other use. Additionally, with no need for a household generator, the area typically occupied by such a component can be used for other purposes.

Lastly, handling is vastly improved, and driver fatigue is minimized using a proprietary drive-by-wire steering system coupled with what CEO Harris described as a “scaled-up version of the independent suspension you’d find on a race car.”

The benefits of the independent front suspension can only be experienced through a test drive, something that could not be done on the show floor. But attendees were able to play with the drive-by-wire steering. Most who took the “test drive” would agree – as RVBusiness did – that it was amazing.

Even though no steering column is connected to the wheels, the drive-by-wire felt as “real” as any car’s steering we had ever handled. What’s more, the system’s software delivers dynamic steering. That means that at highway speeds, for example, a lot of input makes for a relatively minor change. However, in low-speed conditions, like when maneuvering at a campground, a small amount of steering can make a lot of change, resulting in comfortable ergonomics. Harbinger says they can work with each RV OEM to set up a custom “feel.”

When might the Harbinger RV chassis hit the market? Vice President for Business Development John Sztykiel provided us with some insight.

“In 2023, we will build 25 units for ourselves, test and validate,” he outlined. “Then we will build an additional 50 chassis and send them to our RV OEMs and fleets for additional testing and validation. Finally, in the second half of 2024 will have a fully validated and tested product. It’s a process similar to that of the major automotive manufacturers for passenger cars.”

By the way, Sztykiel’s name may be familiar to you. He was previously CEO of Spartan Motors, the Michigan manufacturer of RV, fire truck, and emergency vehicle chassis, and today is an advocate for electric vehicles. Backing up his words with this Forbes article, he says they are a more efficient and reliable way to provide transportation.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/harbingers-new-ev-motorhome-chassis-touts-300-mile-range/