Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Back in September 2012 before the big RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Roadtrek's president Jim Hammill, on the Facebook page that he frequents with Roadtrek owners started humorously teasing about "something coming". He would not say what. He talked about a very secret project at Roadtrek that only a small handful of top executives and technicians knew about. He did not say if this was an addition that would be available on current Roadtrek models or if it would be a completely new Roadtrek model and he had everyone guessing. It was vaguely stated that all would be unveiled at the Hershey Show.

Well, the Hershey Show came and every day at the show there was nothing new from Roadtrek. Some people who were following the banter about "something coming" were disappointed as they had traveled to Pennsylvania just to see this "new" innovation, not knowing what it would be. The Hershey Show came and went with nothing revealed. What was going on? Where was this new innovation? What was this new innovation? Was this a hoax?

Then in October at the 60th Annual California RV Show "THE" new Roadtrek appeared. It is called the ETrek and it is built on a Sprinter body. What makes this Roadtrek so special? Why is this such an innovation? THIS is an ALL electric Roadtrek with sustainable, renewable energy sources to keep you with power for days without the need to plug into a power line. The Etrek has changed the playing field in Class B RVs - and perhaps in every class of RVs. While other RVs can add some of the things that are found in the ETrek. The ETrek has been designed with proprietary technology to put a power package together that is like no other on any standard model RV.

So what does this new Roadtrek have. Some of the features are -

- Solar Panels flat on the roof that do not require full sunlight but just the presence of light to charge 250 watts of power
- Battery bank of 8 AGM coach batteries - OR optional bank of two lithium ion batteries with equivalent power
- Van engine driven generator
- Optional EFOY fuel cell generator
- Seemless intergration of all electrical systems - when you need power the source is automatically selected
- High output 2,500 watt inverter to make use of all of this DC power for AC appliances like the microwave, air conditioner, etc.
- Surge Protection and Power Monitoring built in

What the new Roadtrek does not have because it does not need it is a propane system. There is an electric hot water system that provides on-demand hot water, including a hot water spigot for instant boiling water. There is a two way electric refrigerator (similar to the one that I had installed in my Roadtrek). There is an electric heating system. There is a electric inductive cook range that only heats if a pot is on the burner.

There is technology behind the ETrek that, understandably, Roadtrek will not reveal and competitors are clamoring to learn.

Of course,  all of this is not without cost. The RS Adventurous line of Roadtrek's were already the higher priced line of Roadtreks and the new E-Trek brings the list price in the area of over $125,000.

So where can you see the new ETrek. At this time, unless you see the ETrek at one of the select RV shows that Roadtrek is bringing the Etrek to, you can't. It has not yet been made available to dealers. But despite that, sales of the new Roadtrek are brisk. In fact they are selling beyond production which means as soon as they come off the line at the factory they are going to a new owner and not out to showrooms. Other than those at the California RV show in Pomona in October, the first time the industry got to see the new Etrek was at the RV Industry only trade show in November in Louisville, Ky. And the Etrek at that show took top honors.

Here is a link to a video made at that show - and you still don't see the inside or outside of the new Roadtrek. This new Roadtrek is hot!

My thoughts on the new Etrek. It is great. Would I sell my still new Roadtrek and buy one? Well, for one, I did not like, for personal reasons, the Sprinter-based Class Bs including the Roadtrek models. I did not find them comfortable and they have diesel engines that use more expensive diesel fuel.  Secondly, I could just about afford the financing to purchase what I have already purchased. There have been comments that the same technology will be applied to the Chevy-based Roadtreks. There has also been comment made that some of this technology may be able to be retrofit by Roadtrek - AT THE FACTORY ONLY - to existing Roadtreks like my 190. What do I want most of this new technology? I want the solar panels. I would like to be able recharge my two coach batteries with just light. For that, I would likely make the trip to the factory for the install. Yes, I know that it is possible to do this aftermarket right now. I want to do it right - and do it the Roadtrek way so that it properly integrates with the electric system as it exists. No second guessing and no surprises. The solar addition would have been very reassuring to have when we were using the Roadtrek when our home was without power.

Keep an eye out at the dealers. Sooner or later they will get the Etrek. I, too, would very much like to see one in person. Roadtrek is now setting the pace that all others will have to follow. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. And the hints are already out there, that something more is coming.


  1. Me, too Robert. I live in the PNW and solar panels which require light vs only sun to charge would be a boon in these environs. I am looking to add solar panels to my rig (former owner had it wired and fitted with a solar battery but removed the panels before selling the rig) and knowing light only panels are available somewhere for RT to find them is encouraging!

  2. Do you do much boondocking or dry camping? If so, how tough is the Roadtrek? I am researching class Bs and wondering how important 4x4 would be. I want to be able to go on BLM roads ect but not do any "rock climbing". (-:

    1. The Roadtrek, and in particular the ETrek, is made for boondocking and dry camping. As to 4x4 and off roading - Roadtrek offered an aftermarket 4WD/AWD option up until a few years ago. They now will refer anyone who wants this to the company in Canada that did the conversions for them and the buyer can then go to that company on their own. Understand that clearance under the chassis is very low - 8 to 9 inches at the highest point. This and most Class B's are not vehicles to take on very rough terrain. Holes, steep angles, and ruts can rip what hangs down below the chassis right off. There is plumbing, water tanks, waste tanks, a sewage system, propane tank, and a generator or additional batteries all installed under the chassis. I have driven on dirt roads, grass fields, etc. but I am extremely careful about mud (I know of Class Bs that have sunk), ruts, unexpected declines, and holes. All of these can cause very expensive damage. Even some roughly paved streets have to be driven with caution. If you bottom out you can take out a great deal. Roadtrek does make the N-6 Active which is in-between a Class B and an SUV. This has 4wd, running water, some cooking facility, and a bed. There is no toilet. The top pops up for headroom. The N-6 Active is built on a Nissan and is sold by both Nissan and Roadtrek. If you want to off-road, this is a better choice.