Looking for a summer trip? Why not try glamping in an EV
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Innovators in Mobility
Jul 28, 2023
Mehanaz Yakub

The Tesla Model Y, Rivian R1T and R1S and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are just some of the EVs ideal for your next “glamping” trip this summer

Since 2019, many EVs have come to market that offer useful features to help campers have a more glamorous camping (also known as “glamping”) experience. Photo: Bora Ugurgel

The Tesla Model Y, Rivian R1T and R1S and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are just some of the EVs ideal for your next “glamping” trip this summer

If you’re planning to embark on a camping adventure in the great Canadian outdoors this summer, you might want to consider doing it in the comfort of an electric vehicle (EV).

As you journey across the country to your destination, you’ll no doubt find a number of charging stations along highways, rest stops and tourist information centres. Camping sites and national, provincial and municipal parks are also increasingly being equipped with EV charging stations in their amenities too.

The idea is to encourage travellers to enjoy Canada’s most pristine landscapes in a non-emitting vehicle.

Since 2019, many EVs have come to market that offer useful features to help campers have a more glamorous camping (also known as “glamping”) experience.

High towing capabilities, vehicle-to-load technologies and an assortment of camping and off-roading functions bring extra comfort when roughing it, leaving more time to enjoy the great outdoors.

So, whether a trip means putting just a toe off the beaten path or going fully off-grid, an EV can become a campsite asset as well as a green way of transporting yourself into nature.

Tesla’s “Camp Mode”

Earlier this summer, Bora Ugurgel, senior manager of investor relations and communications at Frontier Lithium, took his family on a two-day weekend trip to Chutes Provincial Park in Massey, Ont., with a Tesla Model Y.

One of the standout features of Teslas is “Camping Mode.”

“This innovative mode enables you to transform your electric SUV into a comfortable camping oasis,” says Ugurgel.

When the Tesla is in Camp Mode, it offers several features, including:

  • Maintaining airflow and controlling the interior temperature
  • Allowing interior lighting to be turned on or off
  • Playing music or streaming services
  • Powering electrical devices

In addition to these features, the Tesla has “a spacious interior providing ample room to relax” or “read bedtime stories with the kids,” says Ugurgel. “There’s also a unique “Virtual Fireplace” setting that creates a virtual flame effect on the vehicle’s infotainment screen. This feature is not only delightful but also practical in the case of a fire ban.”

The rear cabin of the Tesla Model Y is 210 cm long. Photo: Bora Ugurgel

Range capabilities and planning for charging

In Camp Mode, Tesla’s battery consumption ranges from 10 to 15 per cent of the charge within an eight-hour time period. Once the battery percentage drops below 20 per cent, the Camp Mode will automatically disable to conserve battery power.

During Ugurgel’s two-day, 100-kilometre trip, his Tesla Model Y utilized approximately 50 per cent of its battery capacity, exceeding the estimated range by 155 km, says Ugurgel. Several real-world factors such as outside temperature, in-cabin settings, devices plug-in, starting battery level and driving style can affect the battery range.

In Ugurgel’s case, he was also towing a Shasta Airflyte 16-foot trailer. With the Airflyte’s weight rating of 2,470 pounds, the Model Y was “more than up to the task,” says Ugurgel.

To alleviate range anxiety, Ugurgel emphasizes the importance of planning trips with charging infrastructure in mind and understanding the vehicle’s limitations.

Ugurgel found that a standard 110-volt outlet at his campsite provided approximately 16 hours of charging time. Campgrounds equipped with a 30-amp service allow for faster charging, although the charging rate was limited to 24 amps to avoid tripping the breaker, says Ugurgel.

Glamping in a Rivian

Along with Tesla, there are other EVs on the market that offer unique features to elevate the glamping experience.

In 2022, American automaker Rivian started offering its version of “Camp Mode” in the R1T and R1S electric cars.

“It allows the vehicle to adjust everything from the noise levels to the courtesy mode,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian CEO in a Twitter video announcing the feature. “But probably the coolest feature is an auto-levelling feature, where if you’re sitting in the vehicle or camping in the vehicle or sleeping in the back and it’s sitting crooked on a hill, the [vehicle’s air] suspension auto levels.”

Levelling the car creates a flat surface that helps to make activities like cooking, sleeping and tent setup easier.

The levelling function in use in Rivian’s “Camp Mode.” Photo: Rivian

Beyond the levelling feature, Rivian’s Camp Mode offers energy optimization while the vehicle is parked. This allows drivers to set timers for charging ports and outlets and turn on and off interior displays, climate control and music.

Additionally, floodlights integrated into the side mirrors can shine a light on the campsite, while a special Camp Courtesy Mode prevents exterior lights from turning on and adjusts the climate system to reduce noise, so as to not disturb neighbours.

Glamping in a Hyundai

Similar to Tesla and Rivian’s “Camp Mode,” South-Korean automaker Hyundai has a “Utility Mode” that allows campers to use features inside the Ioniq 5 and Kona EV when the car is off.

“The high voltage battery is used instead of the 12V auxiliary battery for operating the convenient features of the vehicle. When driving is not necessary such as while camping or when stopping the vehicle for a long time, it is possible to use the electrical devices (audio, lights, air conditioner, heater, etc.) for long hours,” says Hyundai in its 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 owner’s manual.

The utility mode also allows drivers of the Ioniq 5 to utilize vehicle-to-load technology to harness the car’s battery to power external devices, such as electrical camping equipment, power tools and more.

This latter feature solves the problem of spending hours in the pre-dawn light trying to stoke the campfire enough to boil the coffee. Instead, a small portable (12V) coffee maker can easily plug into the Ioniq’s onboard socket and voila.

(Ditto for an electric cooker, hot plate or device chargers.)

Glamping in a Ford

Meanwhile, the Ford F-150 Lightening is another glamping-ready EV.

The Lightning’s Pro Power Onboard system functions as an energy bank with multiple front and back outlets that can power and charge appliances and electronic camping equipment. With a 131 kWh battery pack, the F-150 Lightning can deliver up to 9.6 kW of power. This amount can power an average American home for at least three days, which translates to a few days of glamping.

Ford F-150 Lightning in use at a campsite. Photo: Ford

In addition to its power capabilities, the F-150 Lightning features a front trunk that offers extra storage for camping gear, supplies and food. The front trunk, also known as the “Frunk,” comes with drain plugs that can be used to keep beverages and snacks chilled.

“From the fabulous frunk to the electrified bed and the cab in between you’ll find a ton of room. Room for groceries…tools…for sporting equipment, camping gear and stuff you haven’t even bought yet,” says Ford.

The F-150 Lightning also has a Zone Lighting system, which enables glampers to activate and control lights around the truck to illuminate their campsite. It also has high towing capabilities.

With 775 lb.-ft. of near-instant torque, the F-150 Lightning can also be used to tow a trailer, RV, boat, or any other camping equipment while on the road, says Ford.

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