No, that picture above is not a belated April Fools' joke. It's one of the initial renderings of a Tesla Model S-based motorhome prototype set to bring some serious buzz to an upcoming Michigan Energy Office electric vehicle ride-and-drive event.
Under development by adventurer, entrepreneur, author and Twitch video host Travis Rabenberg, the odd-looking but still-sporty Tesla Roamer mini-camper is designed to become the world's fastest motorhome, while still offering enough range for a satisfying vacation.
We'd have thought it'd take the debut of the Tesla pickup for the first Tesla pickup camper, or maybe the debut of the Tesla semi for a larger Tesla-badged motorhome. We would have also been inclined to simply dismiss the Tesla Roamer renderings as creative wishful thinking, much like the pretty but future-less Tesla motorhome renderings floating through the virtual world before it. However, he fact that the Tesla Roamer was announced in an official State of Michigan press release made us sit up and take notice, as it appears this wild, camper-like Tesla has a future here in the real world.
As the press release says, Rabenberg will debut a prototype version of the Roamer alongside electric vehicles of various shapes, sizes and purposes at the Michigan Energy Office's April 17 event. Rabenberg, who's previously wandered the globe with a Sportsmobile Ford E-350 camper van, custom ambulance conversion and motorcycle, hopes to drive his latest creation right into the big book of Guinness for an electric motorhome speed record, target: 150 mph (241 km/h).
If successful in reaching that speed, Rabenberg will be able to drop the "electric," as he'll own the all-out motorhome land speed record, currently listed by Guinness as 227.35 km/h (141.3 mph), set by a Fiat Doblo van conversion in 2014. As far as we know, the 542-hp Porsche-powered SpaceCamper TH5 VW camper van never made an official world record run though it’s listed 174-mph (280-km/h) top speed could seal the record up for a while.
In addition to pure straight-line speed, the Roamer will have a purported 200-mile (322-km) range, ensuring it's a practical motorhome for at least some vacationing and camping. The range is still rather limited for a vehicle based around high-mileage travel, but it does exceed the ranges of other electric motorhomes and camper vans out there.
Hopefully, we'll have the full story after next week's premiere, but according to the few details published on Rabenberg's "Travis Travels" website, the build has its foundation on a Model S 70D with 309 hp (230 kW) and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque. The camper module make/model remains "top secret," but indications are it'll include a toilet, sink, bed, 76 liters of water storage and 350 watts of roof-mounted solar.
The camper is planned as a pop-top, but initial renderings show the top flipping open every which way – to the back, to the side and straight up – so we'll have to wait and see how the final design works. Dimensions are given at 8 x 6 feet (2.4 x 1.8 m, L x W), with the height rising from 4 to 6.6 feet (1.2 to 2 m) when the roof pops up.
While the roof design varies from rendering to rendering, all of the pictures show a truck camper-style module mounted directly to the chassis, behind the chopped-off sedan cabin. Assuming the prototype follows through on that configuration, it'll be a two-person adventure camper perfect for the type of attractive young couple that dominates Instagram and YouTube camper van content. What could be more modern and millennial than a Tesla fit out for #vanlife?
We look forward to seeing what Rabenberg has come up with, and while we won't be at the Michigan ride and drive, the events page of the Travis Travels website suggests the vehicle might find its way to future shows like Overland Expo and SEMA, before heading across the Atlantic to undertake an expedition from England to Dubai, where it will lead a parade of electric vehicles into Expo 2020.
Next week's ride-and-drive will take place between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Michigan Agency for Energy in Lansing, Michigan. More details can be found in the Michigan.gov press release link below.