- Airstream and Studio FA Porsche have shown off a concept travel trailer co-designed by the two brands.
- The collaboration is the result of an idea to create a stylish camping trailer that can be pulled by a small SUV or electric vehicle and parked inside a garage when not in use.
- The styling combines elements that are quintessential Airstream, but with thoughtful elements including a pop-top roofline to increase interior headroom.
A transatlantic partnership between Airstream and Porsche has resulted in a modern-looking travel trailer concept that debuted today at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The trailer is designed to be pulled by a small SUV or an electric vehicle, and is meant to serve as a vision of what an urban-inspired camper might look like.
“Our customer base is almost twice as likely to own an EV than the general population,” said Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream. “Pulling a travel trailer reduces the range. Weight and aerodynamics play a big part in this.”
Airstream is already playing with the idea of electrification; The company unveiled the eStream concept last year. That trailer had an electrified powertrain of its own, which could be used to gradually adjust the trailer’s location when it was uncoupled from a tow vehicle or assist an electrically powered tow vehicle while on the move. And Airstream isn’t the only brand considering what over-the-road travel will look like in an EV future. Rival RV makers Winnebago and Bowlus are both working on eco-friendly commuters as well as electrified options.
“We understand this future is coming. It’s already here and it continues to grow,” Wheeler said of the growing number of EVs on the road. “We know our owners don’t park in campgrounds for the summer or seasons; they’re on the street.”
While the Porsche-designed concept you see here doesn’t feature such a powertrain, the design team took great care to maximize the trailer’s aerodynamics. Instead of a rounded rear end like other Airstreams, the concept has a short, flat design that’s better for aero, but also allows for the inclusion of a hatchback setup that can open the trailer’s interior to the outside.
The fully lowered section of the trailer is another attempt to make it more aerodynamic. The concept uses composite materials such as carbon fiber to help keep weight down. Aluminum exterior panels are used here – just as they are on contemporary Airstream products – but the brand’s rivets have been omitted in the name of reducing drag.
Purists may say that the rivetless trailer means this isn’t a true Airstream, but from the looks of it, enough design cues from the brand have been incorporated into the concept to earn its place in the history books.
Wheeler said, “Going into this collaboration, we knew that if we tied Porsche’s hands we would end up with what we already have.” “What we ended up with is beautiful, functional and represents the brand.”
The concept has the same length as the 16-foot Caravelle camper trailer, but the concept is more compact and shorter in height, as it is intended to fit inside a standard garage when not in use. The trailer can be lowered on its suspension to fit through garage doors, while an insulated pop-top roof provides headroom inside the trailer when parked at a campsite.
Inside, the concept trailer’s cabin is modern, with clean lines and smartly integrated features. The bathroom has a swivel door to save space, and the entire enclosure is covered by beautiful bentwood trim. The kitchenette features a two-burner cooktop and an integrated sink; Flip-up countertop extenders can be used when cooking or needing more counter space.
“Curvity and softness are the most important things,” said Steffen Ganz, head of design at Porsche Design of America.
The dinette, which also folds into a bed, is located behind the camper’s cabin and overhead storage bins eschew traditional cabinet doors in favor of lightweight webbing. Overall, the interior design is what you’d expect from a Porsche design, and it features clean lines, rounded edges, and lots of chrome and a carbon-inspired color scheme.
Neither company would say whether the concept would eventually head to production, but Airstream’s Wheeler acknowledged that the company is considering it for the foreseeable future.
“We really fell in love with this thing during the process, and we’re actively trying to figure out how we can make it work,” Wheeler said. “We’re challenging ourselves to figure out how we can effectively build this, which is very similar to this or very similar to this, for a future customer.”
If the trailer makes it past the concept stage, we expect it to wear a premium price tag. Airstream’s current lineup already trades at the high end of the RV marketplace. The brand’s focus on premium materials and hand-crafted construction has earned it a reputation for longevity and a fan base that has an expectation of quality – an attribute that those customers are clearly willing to pay for.
Managing Editor, Buyer’s Guide
Drew Dorian is a lifelong car enthusiast who has held a variety of consumer-focused positions throughout his career, from financial advisor to auto salesman. dreamed of becoming car and driver Editor since the age of 11—a dream that came true when she joined the staff in April 2016. His automotive interests range from convertibles and camper vans to sports cars and luxury SUVs.