One of the biggest struggles with electrifying RVs right now is just the fact that existing designs don’t have great range. Ford E-Transit van builds like the Winnebago ERV2 have an unimpressive range of just 108, barely enough to get you anywhere in any sort of timely manner. Grounded, the Detroit startup with an electric van that’s cheaper than the competition, also fell into this hole with its launch product, the E-Transit-based G1. Now, Grounded has unveiled the next evolution of its camper van design. The Grounded G2 promises 250 miles of range thanks to being built out of GM’s great BrightDrop commercial vans.
While electrification is spreading across the automotive and motorcycle industries, we’ve yet to really see a viable electric RV. There appear to be a number of problems for manufacturers to overcome, such as the fact that RVs tend to be large, blocky, and heavy, all not great traits for an EV. Potential solutions are on the horizon, such as Harbinger’s deal with Thor Industries and its custom chassis. For the companies focused on Class B camper vans, a limiting factor can be the donor vehicle. The Ford E-Transit has been chosen by big names like Winnebago and startup companies alike. However, with 108 miles on tap, you really aren’t going to take one of these campers across the country. Well, you could, but it would take forever.
That brings us to Grounded.
Back in March, I wrote about its launch vehicle, the G1 camper van. Grounded boasts countless interior configurations and a fully operational all-electric camper van for pricing cheaper than the ICE establishment. While I feel Grounded’s quality may leave some to be desired, I love the idea of an EV camper that’s cheaper than an ICE. Still, it’s hard to get around the 108-mile range limitation. Back in March, Grounded’s CEO Sam Shapiro told me that its G2, which will still be a van, was going to have a range of around 250 miles. At the time, I didn’t know how Grounded planned to achieve that. The company does not change the underlying platform, so it’s stuck with whatever it gets from an automaker.
Apparently, I did not consider the idea that Grounded could just turn a delivery van into a camper. Grounded is not the first company to target GM’s BrightDrop vans for camper conversions, but it is the latest.
GM’s Delivery Future
BrightDrop is a subsidiary of General Motors that was founded in 2021. The company exists as the General’s answer to the burgeoning market of electric commercial vehicles. BrightDrop’s target is last-mile delivery, or the types of step vans you see dropping packages off at your door or at a business.
Along with automated warehouse carts, BrightDrop also sells a pair of step vans built on GM’s Ultium platform and built at the CAMI plant that used to build such vehicles as the Geo Metro. Currently, the vans are being trialed with a little bit of everyone from DHL and FedEx to Ryder and even Purolator.
Our Thomas got to review one, and he mentioned that the vans have a cargo area featuring a genuine walk-in height and a whole 615 cu.-ft of volume in the larger model. The BrightDrop vans also feature GM’s current tech suite of driver assistance features and as a bonus, the interiors of the vans weren’t creaky or misaligned. I highly recommend giving his review a read, but his driving notes paint a great picture:
You might expect maneuvering more than 24 feet of step van to be intimidating, like navigating the Suez Canal knowing full well what the internet will do if you cock things up. However, this enormous package hauler is friendlier than a labradoodle, and easier to drive than most full-size pickup trucks. How did GM manage that?
Let’s start with visibility. The view out of the front is truly panoramic thanks to an enormous windshield and useful A-pillar windows, while the microwave-sized mirrors feature convex elements to show you exactly where your rear wheels are. Even without resorting to the 360-degree camera system, drivers will know exactly where their wheels are at all times.
Add in light steering, a relatively tight turning circle, and impeccably smooth one-pedal driving, and you get a formula that makes driving a breeze. Next to the BrightDrop Zevo 600, even a Chevrolet Tahoe feels cumbersome and unrefined, to say nothing of the litany of combustion-powered step vans currently in use. I’m not suggesting you toss the keys to someone on their learner’s permit, but this thing’s as stress-free as a motorized apartment building gets. Dare I say, it might be my favorite EV I’ve ever driven since it’s a comprehensive leap forward over its combustion-powered predecessors with no desirable traits lost in the switch to electric power. Imagine jumping out of an oxcart and into the USS Enterprise. That’s how different the BrightDrop Zevo 600 feels.
Thomas also compliments the vehicle’s quiet cabin and comfortable ride quality thanks to its independent front suspension plus solid rear axle with composite leaf spring. In other words, it’s a delivery van, but don’t expect the experience of driving a GMC Savana or a U-Haul truck, here.
Grounded’s BrightDrop Camper Is Actually Modular
For its next-generation camper van, Grounded has chosen the BrightDrop Zevo 600 as its base vehicle. Under the body sits an AWD electric van boasting GM’s Ultium platform, featuring a 165-kWh battery pack and two motors adding up to 300 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. The Zevo 600 is powered by 20 Ultium modules and Grounded says that even kitted out as an RV you should get 250 miles of range out of it. That’s more than double what you get in the G1, so that’s great news!
Inside of the 24-foot step van is the latest version of Grounded’s custom modular interior. Grounded’s approach to the G2 appears to be similar to that of other companies trying out a modular concept, where you place interior modules out onto tracks.
The original G1 didn’t have an interior you could build out or change yourself. When you buy a Grounded G1, the company takes you through a camper builder tool where you use the company’s interior pieces to configure perhaps countless layouts. Building the interior like Lego allows Grounded to crank out custom vans within days. Unfortunately, if you ever decide to change your layout, you have to take the G1 back to Grounded to have the pieces changed. So, I think “modular-ish” is the best way to describe the G1.
The G2 changes that and the CEO of Grounded Sam Shapiro says Grounded G2 owners will benefit from a truly modular interior:
“The G2 is radically different from any other offering on the market,” said Grounded CEO Sam Shapiro. “It’s a profound step toward a future of fully electrified motorhomes, and makes sustainable travel truly achievable. We’ve designed the G2 to be as flexible as possible, and our truly modular interior delivers on the promise of a continually upgradable RV interior. Over time, as your life changes and your use cases change, the vehicle can change with you. Customers can replace the modules themselves by removing some fasteners, taking out one module, and inserting a new one.”
The change here appears to be the fact that interior pieces are more flexible and now attach to mounting rails, allowing the end user to change their camper without having to take it back to Grounded. The company also says the Grounded G2 features interior components made of KoskiDecor Eco Transparent, a plywood from Koskisen. This material is a Finnish Baltic birch with translucent melamine coating on each side. This protects the wood underneath while giving customers a choice of 11 different colors.
Improvements aren’t just limited to the modular interior, either. The launch G1 vans carry 5 kWh house batteries, which are a third of the size of the battery found in the Winnebago eRV2. For the BrightDrop-based G2, Grounded is doubling the house battery to 10 kWh. That’s still smaller than the competition, but a notable improvement. Grounded does say that the house battery size is customizable, so it may be possible to get an even bigger battery.
Other bits about the new G2 carry over from the G1. That includes the inclusion of a dry flush toilet, an outdoor shower, and 640 watts of solar. Also like the G1, the G2’s electronics and appliances can be controlled by a phone app.
In terms of charging, you’re looking at a 120-kW peak DC fast charging rate. That’s good enough for roughly 170 miles of range per hour. You can also charge the camper at home from a 240-volt outlet, which will net you a peak of 11.5-kW. One feature I like about Grounded’s vans is the fact that the house battery and traction battery are connected, so one can pass a charge to the other.
No Longer Cheaper Than The Competition
So, the big question you probably have is what did going to the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and giving buyers are truly modular interior do to the price? The Grounded G2 lands for $195,000. Grounded says it’s taking orders right now. The ordering process starts with a refundable $100 deposit. Then you get to design the initial interior for your van. Grounded says deliveries start this month.
Back at the Detroit Auto Show, I got to tour the G1 and was a little disappointed. Aside from the 108-mile range, it was a bummer that changing the interior couldn’t be done by the end-user and the quality left some to be desired. With the G2, Grounded is fixing a lot of this.
You can now go 250 miles, you can change your own interior, and at least in photos, the change in how the interior is made is good as well. But, $195,000 is not a small price to pay to have a cool camper. Grounded may no longer have a price advantage, but it looks like the startup succeeded in making a cozy unit.
(Images: Grounded, unless otherwise noted.)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.
- Jason Torchinsky Thanks You All From The Bottom Of His Recently Patched-Up Heart, Has Thoughts On His Walker’s Amber Reflectors
- I Developed A Suspension For A Peruvian Race Team, Then They Invited Me To Help Them Race At The Country’s Only Track
- Honesty, Journalism And The Perils Of Access: A Defense Of Jason Cammisa’s Cybertruck ‘Review’
- Everyone Loves A Good Classic American Pickup Truck: COTD