July '20

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128 • RV PRO • July 2020 rv-pro.com Breaking news exclusives from RV PRO's website In Case You Missed it RV I N S I G H T Winnebago Plugging Away at EVs Although electric auto- mobiles remain a miniscule part of the global automo- tive market, the names Prius, Tesla and the Chevy Volt are household words. In the RV world, all-elec- tric vehicles exist only in engineers' laboratories – at least on the consumer side. On the commercial side, it's a technology that Winnebago has brought to market. The second all-electric motorhome the company sold will soon be going to the Vail Valley in the Colorado mountains to become a mobile preschool. Like the first one the company sold, it was built at Winnebago's Forest City, Iowa, facility and is powered by an all-electric EPIC F-53 33-foot chassis from Califor- nia's Motiv Power Systems. "Right now, we've got one vehicle, which is at UCLA, the University of California, Los Angeles. That's (been) in use for the last few months on a daily basis," said Ashis Bhat- tacharya, Winnebago's vice president of business devel- opment, specialty vehicles, and advanced technology. That UCLA Health Center vehicle rotates between UCLA's Ronald Reagan and Santa Monica, Calif., cam- puses, where its sole purpose is collecting, disinfecting and sterilizing surgical instruments. Despite the university having paid a premium over the cost of a typical gas- or diesel-powered vehicle, the school estimates the EV unit will save it about $750,000 annually by not having to send its medical instruments away to be cleaned and sterilized. The EV unit has the equip- ment onboard and does it parked outside the hospital. "There are no emissions, there is no exhaust," said Bhattacharya. "So, if you look at the alternatives, if there was a diesel or a gas- oline vehicle … you would have been in violation of the idling rules – you can't just keep a vehicle idling for three hours in front of a hospital. And so they wouldn't have been able to do this. So, we are actually seeing that there are a number of applications which are being enabled because of the elec- tric vehicles that we've got, which didn't exist in the past." Incentives offered by the state of California for buying an electric vehicle also helped defray some of the costs to the university. In terms of all-electric RVs for the consumer, the barriers are steep, Bhat- tacharya acknowledges. The commercial units the company sold to UCLA and to the school district in Col- orado have a top distance range of about 150 miles between charges, which is not even close to what the consumer would want. Read more: https://rv-pro. com/news/winnebago- plugging-away-evs Bhattacharya Ameri-Kart Expanding Indiana Operations Ameri-Kart, a rotational molder and thermoformer, has announced plans to expand its Elkhart County manufacturing operations, consolidating its Michigan and Indiana operations and creating up to 210 new jobs in Indiana by the end of 2022. Ameri-Kart, which man- ufactures a broad range of custom plastic parts within the RV, marine, agricultural, construction, manufac- turing and safety industries, will invest approximately $10.1 million to construct and equip a new, state-of- the-art production facility in Bristol on 32. The new 234,000-square-foot facility will accommodate the consolidation of Ameri- Kart's existing operations in Bristol, as well as its oper- ations in Cassopolis, Mich. Construction is underway, and the company plans to begin relocation in staged phases this fall and be fully moved into the facility by early 2021. "We are excited to be making this investment in our community," said Kris- tian Stankiewicz, president of Ameri-Kart. "The larger, modern facility will allow us to continue delivering highly innovative products and quality service to our customers and provide an improved work environment to our employees." The company, which cur- rently employs 138 associ- ates in Bristol and 85 in Michigan, plans to begin hiring for positions in pro- fessional and production roles in Bristol beginning late September. Read more: https://rv-pro. com/news/ameri-kart-ex- panding-indiana?utm UCLA is making use of a Winnebago specialty vehicle powered by an all-electric 33-foot chassis.

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