By William Coleman
The world of technology is constantly evolving. It seems that by the time you’ve picked a new laptop or computer a newer more powerful model is already on the way but the caravan world has never had that future tech issue. In fact it seemed to be a little behind the times with “new age” tech. Thankfully we have moved on from those times, but this new trailer/caravan seems to a be the van of the future.
This is very much a new style of trailer, as the Americans call it, and will suit the ever evolving needs of the modern tourer. The new Sonic X from KZ Recreational Vehicles has been retrofitted with all the bells and whistles to make this van self sustainable with an “endless” energy supply.
To help keep you going further for longer and off the beaten track the Sonic X comes fitted with a solar-backed lithium battery bank. The great thing about this is that you really can go off grid and not have to worry too much about your electrical supplies.
But what about the freshwater supply? Going off grid would mean you that you really would have to stock up on clean H2O before getting lost in the woods, surely? .
This future proof van has an answer for that too. On board you will find a fresh water harvesting system and insulation-boosting technology for better performance, autonomy and efficiency. According to tests you can for months or week at time with this on board system.
This nifty van was shown at the RVX trade show that took place last week in Salt Lake City and served as a clear signal to other manufacturers to become more innovative and create vans that are environmentally friendly without affecting the practical living experience of a caravan or RV.
This year’s show was a little different from previous years as a lot of manufacturers introduced a lot of new vehicles which mirror the changing in demographics and building more awareness and buzz to younger holiday makers.
The show kicked off with a big reveal competition that sought to identify the most innovative new products for different profiles of buyer, everyone from gritty outdoor adventurers and van lifers to luxury tourists and family holiday makers.
The Sonic X did not walk away with the top prize but was a runner up in the “City Escape” category. Many who attended felt that the van fits into many other categories where it could have scored a lot higher and received a lot of praise of industry leaders and visitors alike.
The creators of the Sonic X are looking to raise awareness of younger generations by adding new technologies and materials to the motorhome and trailer world. In the back you can even find connections for new age games consoles and flat screen TVs.
One direction the company has gone in is to display the van at tech shows as well as your normal caravan and motorhome show. They want to inspire people to get outdoors more and still have access to the things they have in doors. The design of the van is certain more futuristic and may not appeal to the more traditionalists among us. But as younger generation get older and the mod cons get more hi-tech the caravan world must adapt to meet demand.
As a subsidiary of Thor Industries, which recently consolidated its place as the world’s largest RV manufacturer with the purchase of Germany’s Erwin Hymer Group, KZ has some inherent advantages when experimenting with new technologies and design techniques.
The Sonic X concept comes with a variety of new design strategies, starting with a carbon fibre body to help reduce the overall weight while keeping a very solid and durable van.
Underneath the impressive shell is a Huck-bolted frame which is 5 times stronger than a welded construction, according to KZ. This is a reassuring measure, especially if you are going to be taking routes that have a more “rustic” path.
Another big leap in innovation inside the Sonic X is its power system, which combines a 1,000-watt roof-mounted solar array with a 1,000-Ah nine-battery lithium-ion bank for serious off-grid electrical capability.
KZ have a lot of confidence in this new concept and have said that 7.9m caravan is the industry’s first “endless solar power” vehicle.
Now endless is a very long time and as much as I like this van there is no such thing as an endless power supply, even if it is solar powered. The amount of time the power will last can be affected by any number of variables, such as your personal power usage, weather and travel conditions.
So with a “infinite” solar power source and a water purification system this is a very self sufficient van that seems robust enough to take to the most remote and extreme locations. But is it actually that functionable and practical and does having enough juice to power a fridge, big flat screen and PS4 make it a van for someone who loves the outdoors? A PS4 while being at one with nature seems a tad contradictory. But I cannot help but really like the whole thing.
When it comes to taking this van and putting it to the test it does seem to have been built to take a bit if a bruising. The 30 inch off road tired cushioned by torsion-axle suspension does give it a great look and and build that really can handle itself well.
It is being said that the Sonic X is being shown to try and bring a younger crowd, even if it is just a concept in the USA, but it is on the heavy side. Weighing in at 2,735kg means that many young drivers in the UK will not be able to hitch up and go with their standard licence. So I do see a slight issue there when it comes to marketing it to younger people here in the UK.