If the term “RV” brings to mind hulking, gas-guzzling, fake wood paneled, tornado-attracting 4-wheeled rolling trailers, then it’s time to fast-forward your thinking. The Ecco camper concept RV by design firm NAU is a streamlined, zero-local-emission RV that’s more winning than any old (or new) Winnebago.
Back to the Egg
(image via: AutoMotto)
The Ecco camper concept by design firm NAU boldly takes the RV where it’s never gone before: scenic highways and byways favored by those who love the “get away from it all” RV lifestyle, but who worry about being stranded in the back of beyond miles from the nearest electrical charging station.
The Ecco concept may look radical but its designers at NAU readily acknowledge its illustrious predecessors the Airstream trailer and the VW Microbus camper van. However, the classic Airstream trailer of the 1930s may have pioneered RV streamlining but it had no motive force of its own. As for the Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter, as its officially known, it may have been the choice ride of counterculture deadheads but its flat-four engine ran on gasoline, reds, vitamin C and cocaine… OK, just gasoline.
(image via: The Price of Silver)
Take the compact, freedom-loving vibe of the Microbus and meld it with the shiny, space-age exterior of the Airstream and you’ve got the basic visual esthetic of the Ecco camper… or the bizarre bastard lovechild above – must’ve been some bad acid goin’ round. Where were we? Ahh yes, while most concepts push the envelope to “anything goes” and sometimes beyond, the creative folks at NAU have applied solid, practical engineering into the Ecco so that it CAN go pretty much anywhere, even if fuel (in the form of electricity) isn’t close at hand. Let’s take a closer look.
Follow the Sun
In most real-world driving situations, the Ecco camper will go most anywhere a traditional RV can go. Consider that both begin their journeys fully-fueled: the RV with its gas tanks topped up, the Ecco having had its batteries fully charged overnight through a standard 240v electrical outlet. Most RV drivers tend to stop for the night at dedicated trailer parking facilities which offer water and electric power connections – if you’re driving an Ecco, you can follow the same itinerary.
The 4-seat, three-wheeled, teardrop-shaped Ecco camper pulls ahead of traditional RVs when it comes to generating its own power and it’s roughly the size of a VW camper van. See that long, wide, black roof? It’s not there just for show, it’ll help Ecco drivers when it’s time to go! Built-in photovoltaic panels soak up sunlight and trickle the juice into the onboard batteries. Suddenly, stopping for a picnic lunch in sun-baked Monument Valley is just that: a short stop before hitting the highway once more.
Truckin’ 21st Century Style
(image via: Broadsheet)
Since the Ecco is an RV at heart, some mechanism had to be devised that would alternate the vehicle’s configuration from a wind-cheating (and power-saving) aerodynamic road warrior to an un-cramped camper that, as Nau states, can “provide a level of space and comfort that its forbears could only dream of.”
Nau seems to have done exactly that, devising a bellows-style membrane roof that opens clamshell-style, more than doubles the Ecco’s interior space, and exposes an even greater expanse of solar cells to the sky.
Once flipped to camper mode, the Ecco offers users a living area with variable seating, bathroom pod with toilet and shower, kitchen with cooktop & sink, and a sleeping loft with a fold-down extra bed. Add your own portable electronic entertainment devices and it’s a home away from home!
Will we ever see the Ecco concept camper at stores or dealers, and if so, will it be sold at an affordable price? Traditional RVs aren’t cheap by any means, considering their multifunctional nature and often substantial size. As time goes by and more and more Baby Boomers decide to hit the road, they just might find the Ecco camper suits their needs the way their psychedelically painted Microbus used to… powered in a way their tie-dyed counterculture pals would likely approve.