Freightliner is now taking orders for its new ecoFred motorhome chassis, the first of its kind in the large RV market. The new chassis uses a Cummins 6.7-liter diesel inline-6 with an Eaton automated-manual transmission. In between the auto-clutch and the gearbox is a motor-generator that provides regenerative braking, auto-stop and electric drive capabilities. Electrical storage comes by way of a lithium ion battery pack although the capacity and source are not specified.

The hybrid drive system not only improves the fuel efficiency but increases the total combined gross vehicle weight rating to 37,000 pounds. The regenerative braking capability means significantly reduced brake wear, which is particularly useful when driving in mountainous areas. The new chassis are available to custom coach builders new motorhomes with the hybrid system should start arriving in 2010. These won't be cheap, but if you are renting an RV for a trip, but it might worth searching one out.

[Source: Freightliner]


PRESS RELEASE:

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation ecoFRED™ Motorhome Chassis Ready for Production

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Dec. 3, 2009 – ecoFRED™, the RV industry's first hybrid-electric Class A motorhome chassis, is now available for order. Introduced in December 2008 by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) as a prototype, ecoFRED provides improved fuel economy while also reducing engine emissions.

Equipped with the Eaton® hybrid-electric system, ecoFRED is unlike any other chassis available in the RV market today. Powered by the Cummins® ISB 6.7-liter engine with up to 300 hp and an Eaton automated manual transmission, ecoFRED provides increased torque for better acceleration, contributing to a superior performance that has become synonymous with the FCCC brand.

"We are pleased that ecoFRED is ready for production," said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. "ecoFRED offers reduced exhaust emissions, leading toward a cleaner environment, requires less fuel to operate and has an improved brake life, all of which contribute to better overall performance and a reduced operational cost for our customers."

ecoFRED, so named because of its increased fuel economy and ecological/ environmental benefits, offers significantly less brake wear due to regenerative braking, leading to lower replacement costs. The chassis also boasts of better acceleration and increased towing capacity, operating similar to driving an automatic transmission.
ecoFRED has increased towing capacity with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 27,000 lbs. and a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 37,000 lbs. This enables travelers to carry more weight in the coach storage compartments or tow a heavier or additional vehicle.

FCCC engineers also designed ecoFRED to offer a best-in-class 55-degree wheel cut to better travel and navigate through tight spatial constraints. Similar to the popular FRED (Front Engine Diesel) chassis, ecoFRED does not have an engine hump or "dog house" typically found on a gas chassis. The result is a flat floor and more room in the driver cockpit, contributing to driver comfort and easier entry and egress from the seats to the back of the motorhome.

Two OEMs have built prototype coaches on ecoFRED. This summer, Brad and Amy Herzog, spokespeople for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), decided to use a Winnebago motorhome with the innovative ecoFRED RV chassis for its 10th annual travel tour.

The Herzogs chose to travel the country in the 2009 Winnebago Adventurer® built upon ecoFRED because of its improved acceleration, reduced fuel consumption and emissions and ease of maintenance, Brad Herzog said.

Brad, Amy, and their sons started the 50-day tour from Chicago, where their parents live. The tour included 15 states (Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana), as well as Washington, D.C.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and school bus and shuttle bus markets. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.