Welcome to this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. Today, we’re looking at sustainability and CO2 emissions from the lens of electric RVs and their impact on reducing gas usage. Joining Dylan today is Ben Parker, Co-Founder and CPO of Lightship, America’s first electric recreational vehicle company. 

Join them as they discuss the development of Lightship, an electric and aerodynamic solar-powered recreational vehicle (RV). They also delve into the impact of RVs on gas usage, the potential for EV adoption, and the challenges of building an electric vehicle from scratch. Discover how Lightship aims to revolutionize the RV industry and make sustainable lifestyles more accessible.

We want to make RVing more accessible to more people. We want to expand the availability of RV travel. We believe that by providing a sustainable and local travel alternative, we can have a significant impact in terms of sustainability and carbon reduction.

Ben Parker, Co-Founder and CPO of Lightship

About Ben

Ben describes himself as an entrepreneur, engineer, car junkie, and an evangelist for the electric vehicle movement. His professional career began with engineering design and automation development for the Tesla Model 3 battery. As the co-founder and CPO of Lightship, he is working on electrification in RV travel and camping. He is focused on slowing climate change by leading teams and efforts that make transportation cleaner and more joyful.

Lightship’s electric RVs

Lightship is an early-stage hardware startup launched in 2020 by Tesla alumni that is bringing the $26B recreational vehicle industry into the electric age. In North America, over 11 million households own an RV, and 500,000 of them are sold here every year. And because towing a traditional RV kills your vehicle’s range, RVs cause an increase in gas usage, and they make it less likely that owners will switch to EVs, where range anxiety is already an issue. Lightship is solving that range problem, which could accelerate EV adoption along with delivering what looks to be a really awesome product.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key highlights

  • 17:04 – 18:13 – Electric RVs: a pivot to an electric lifestyle: Ben Explains how traditional RVs have been fuel-dependent for things like heating/cooling and cooking. The use of heat pumps and induction stoves, along with solar power equipment on the roof and batteries equivalent to six Teslas under the floor, make the RV fuel-independent. And that is just the start. The RV has an inbuilt motor that drives its wheels, thereby reducing the load on the vehicle towing it. This is critical when being towed by an EV. Additionally, when the RV is parked at your home, you can hook it up to your home’s electric network and reduce your energy bills.
  • 23:22 – 24:41 – The scaling challenges for Lightship: Production of electric RVs does not require a multi-billion dollar investment. Thanks to the evolution of the EV industry, there is a robust supply chain in place, and you no longer need to build down to the smallest widget. The challenge for Lightship is to transition from a proof-of-concept prototype to mass production of the RVs. The partnership with Thor Industries will help in overcoming some of the challenges. Moving to mass production, building a service network, and efficient customer service are some of the challenges Lightship hopes to resolve in 2024.
  • 24:59 – 27:23 – Customizing hardware for the electric RVs: While some of the parts are sourced for EV supply chains, a majority of the hardware parts need to be custom-made, ranging from the chassis to the powertrain and motors. Then, there is the hardware that allows the RV to be connected to your domestic supply network and the software at the front end to get the hardware to work together.