For more than a century, RVs have given adventure seekers the freedom to roam. Now, one California company is bringing wanderlust into the future—and it’s looking luxury. Bowlus’s latest is the Volterra, what it claims is the world’s first all-electric RV. The design combines Scandi-inspired interiors with high-end appliances powered by a solar array that can keep it off-grid indefinitely, says the company, making the only obstacle the end of the road.
Bowlus has a history of looking ahead. Its founder, Hawley Bowlus, designed the Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft flown by Charles Lindbergh on the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight, before going on to design the first riveted trailer with an aerodynamic design in 1934. When current CEO Geneva Long and her family took over the company in 2014, they wanted to preserve its forward-looking approach.
“Our mission is to combine the best design with the best performance and comfort so that our customers can adventure on their own terms,” she says.
And a lot of that has to do with preserving the classic, streamlined design. “It seriously effects the range and ease of driving,” says Long. “We have a deep understanding of lightness, and that informs everything from the metals and woods we use, to the fabrication.”
The newly launched Volterra is the culmination of Long’s vision for Bowlus, she says, as it combines the advantages of aerodynamics with advanced off-grid capabilities. For example, a solar array charges a power bank that stores double that of previous models for a total of 17 kilowatt-hours. The system powers appliances and devices, and, in the case of an emergency, can transfer its stored supply to an EV.
The battery system keeps the lights on of course, but it also affords travelers luxuries without the use of propane or natural gas, like air conditioning, heated floors, high-speed satellite internet, and an induction cooktop.
The Volterra’s floor plan is the same as previous models and can accommodate four guests, with a spa-like en suite at the rear, and living/dining areas toward the hitch. The interiors are designed in the style of a Scandinavian cabin, with timber flooring, linen textiles, and vegan leathers that create the feel of a refuge within the RV’s metallic retro cladding.
The Volterra is being offered at a little less than the average cost of a home in the US, and somewhat ironically, the company anticipates some buyers using it as a living space while not on the road—in essence, an off-grid accessory dwelling unit. Says Long, “It would makes a very stylish guesthouse and doesn’t need the infrastructure of a conventional building.”