Green is where you find it; and for two of America's largest Recreational Vehicle manufacturers, it could someday take the form of hybrid variations on their Class A motorhome themes. Both Fleetwood Enterprises and Winnebago Industries used the 46th Annual National RV Trade Show to display exercises in future think that matched specially adapted 36-foot versions of their premium-level road-going condos with a new and revolutionary ecoFRED chassis package developed by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC), a subsidiary of Daimler AG. Despite these enticing teases, neither firm was willing to do more than admit they were trying to assess the true level of consumer interest in this type of super-efficient RV.
In keeping with its parent company's "Shaping Future Transportation" global initiative that focuses on finding new ways to reduce pollutants and fuel consumption, FCCC's ecoFRED undepinnings team a Cummins ISB 6.7-liter engine that can develop up to 300 hp, an Eaton automated-manual transmission and a Lithium-ion battery pack with electric motor/generator into a system capable of operating on pure electric, pure diesel or a suitable mix of power sources that yields significantly better economy in all driving modes. Winnebago estimates the average mpg gain would be up to 19 percent over a similar diesel package, with an equivalent reduction in the level of CO2 emissions. Like most hybrids, the EcoFRED setup (a name that reflects its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits) uses regenerative braking for on-the-fly recharges, a factor that also helps extend overall brake life. It also can be fitted with a start/stop circuit that further bumps its mileage-making potential. According to Freightliner, ecoFRED will be available for order by next summer with production expected to start in the third quarter of 2009.