Ex-Tesla staff launches electric RV trailer Lightship L1

Lightship, a start-up for zero-emission RVs (recreational vehicles), has unveiled its first trailer. The Lightship L1 comes with a battery-powered drive that helps tow it without needing (much) more fuel or electricity. Behind it are former Tesla engineers.

One of those Tesla guys is Ben Parker, now the CEO of Lightship. He spent five years as a battery engineer at Tesla and worked on the Model 3. He co-founded the e-RV start-up alongside Toby Kraus, who serves as President of Lightship. Kraus also worked at Tesla, first in finance and on the Model S. In 2016, he moved on to Proterra (also led by a former Tesla man) and was responsible for deploying the company’s technology for heavy-duty EVs.

While both mention carrying over their experience into the RV market, they make no mention of direct technology transfers. In fact, spec data remain scarce, but there are targets.

The Lightship L1 shall become three times more aerodynamic than a traditional trailer. The company also stresses the proprietary propulsion. With up to 80kW of onboard battery capacity, the drive allows the trailer to propel itself and achieve near-zero range or efficiency loss for the tow vehicle.

And, we may add, the Lightship appears to be made for better views with its panorama windows. Pictures online also reveal a PV roof which Lightsip describes as “residential scale”. The company specifies 3 kW of solar power available to tend to the living needs of the campers. Accoprding to Lightship, the “no-compromise” battery system stores enough power to support a week of living off-grid without charging.

It was a crucial feature for the CEO Parker, who embarked on a 6,000-mile road trip of “one part soul searching, one part business research” when the pandemic hit. He found that “inefficient, unreliable product designs and a power experience that relies on smelly, noisy, gas or propane generators (would) fundamentally hinder the amazing experience of travelling in the outdoors”.

What is more, Parker smelled a business opportunity. “One in ten American families own an RV, but the RV industry hasn’t experienced innovation for decades,” so the CEO.
We want to throw in the RV tag from our archive here, however, as there have been attempts at electrifying the recreational industry for some time.


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Still, a trailer of that size and style is new, and Lightship is currently prototyping. The company is on the road and out for a showcase at the SXSW festival in Austin from 11 to 13 March. Those camping folks interested may reserve the L1 trailer for $500 online.

Lightship is working towards a starting price of $125,000 or $118,400 after federal tax credits and aims for production to begin in late 2024.



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