Camera adventure

An electric UTV motorhome will use the smarts of topo reading to free the cage of 4×4 adventure

The Canadian startup Potential Motors is in full development on what it classifies as a new category of vehicles. At first, we thought this was standard startup hyperbole, but the deeper we delved, the more we found ourselves nodding. Potential seeks to harness the benefits of electric powertrain technology in a compact and versatile UTV camper platform that raises the bar for land exploration. While exploring the kind of narrow, rugged routes that leave more traditional overland trucks and motorhomes behind, the vehicle will use a 4-wheel predictive control system to adapt to off-road terrain and make the journey to at base camp.

Potential Motors is calling its next rig a first-of-its-kind “electric adventure UTV,” but we think it would benefit from incorporating the term “motorhome” or “RV” into the description to differentiate it from all the others. Electric UTVs on the market and the horizon. Because that really sums up the vehicle’s primary purpose: exploring trails that are too narrow and rough for even a small SUV or truck, camping overnight, and moving on (or perhaps returning to civilization with a load) in the morning.

The key to the potential adventure combination of UTV-like capabilities is its projected 64-inch (163 cm) width, which matches that of a Polaris RZR. That’s over 11 in (28 cm) thinner than a 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road (not including side mirrors) and almost 10 in (25 cm) thinner than a 2022 Jeep Wrangler.

Without a “motorhome” or “RV” designation appearing in Potential’s recent teaser ad, we assumed the company was developing a traditional UTV, perhaps with a specially designed roof or bed rack to mount a tent on. the roof. However, the frequent appearance of the term “overland” and derivatives made us wonder if there was not something a little more complex planned.

Potential Motors vehicle teaser design sketch

Potential Drivers

Potential Motors vice president of marketing, Noah Tompkins, tells us that the vehicle is indeed intended as a motorhome. It is being developed from the ground up for the landing and will feature a double bed inside an enclosed cabin and a hatch-style camp kitchen inside a lift-up hatch.

If you’re having trouble visualizing what a side-by-side UTV might look like with an enclosed RV cabin, you probably shouldn’t waste any more brain power. Potential Motors design chief Michael Uhlarik described a clean sheet design process that goes way beyond stuffing a stereotypical UTV with a camper van interior or swiping a skateboard chassis. all-terrain electric vehicle in a sturdy little motorhome-style body. An experienced motorcycle designer, outdoor enthusiast and VW Westy van enthusiast, Uhlarik seeks to create something entirely new in close collaboration with the engineering team, innovating a design that closely matches the capabilities and goals of the vehicle.

“Over the next ten months, the design team at Potential Motors [and] I’m going to realize our vision of what the future of off-roading could be,” Uhlarik said earlier this year, shortly after being hired as chief design officer. “Not just new lines on a Electrified UTV, but a new concept in terms of layout, materials and capability that will surprise and delight existing experts as well as novices. For that, we will spend a lot of time in the woods, in the lab and behind the graphics tablet.”

Beyond that, Potential’s first vehicle will remain shrouded in mystery until its official unveiling. Potential is holding the practicalities close to its chest at the moment.

The RV e-UTV is really only part of the story, and will certainly be the smallest and least interesting part if Potential achieves its goals. The real work of the company lies in the off-road specific holistic vehicle control system that it develops. Dubbed Off-Road OS, this system will serve as the foundation for the ambitious set of capabilities of the potential UTV motorhome, but the ultimate goal is to create a universal platform that other vehicle manufacturers can integrate into their own. models.

Potential Motors' holistic control system uses the kind of advanced sensors found in the passenger car industry to analyze terrain and adjust vehicle settings
Potential Motors’ holistic control system uses the kind of advanced sensors found in the passenger car industry to analyze terrain and adjust vehicle parameters

Potential Drivers

Sort of like a driver assistance package for off-roaders, Off-Road OS links the four electric motors and independent suspension with a suite of advanced sensors that includes LiDAR, cameras and other units. These sensors analyze the terrain in front of the vehicle and route the data through a single central ECU running the company’s proprietary software. The system then continuously adjusts the torque and stiffness of the shock absorbers at each wheel to optimize performance in real time. As the terrain changes, the vehicle proactively automatically adjusts to meet it head-on, ensuring the smoothest ride even for inexperienced off-road drivers. Or that’s the idea, anyway.

The Potential team explains:

Off-road operating system: a proactive vehicle control system

Potential tested and refined Off-Road OS using a prototype named P0. Clearly, P0 is not an early version of its production UTV, but strictly a testbed for the software and hardware technology that will be incorporated into the eventual consumer model. So we won’t try to read too much into the frame shape of the P0 or the very powerful 585hp four-motor drive.

Potential Motors uses some of the 585 hp of its P0 prototype while testing its off-road operating system
Potential Motors uses some of the 585 hp of its P0 prototype while testing its off-road operating system

Potential Drivers

Potential Motors’ real plan appears to be commercializing its Off-Road OS technology with land-based UTV to attract interest from existing and future EV makers. That said, he plans to sell a very limited run of overland UTV campers. He spent the summer releasing details of the Off-Road OS and P0 prototypes and teasing the production UTV for an expected fall 2022 (northern hemisphere) reveal.

We can’t wait to let you in on all the details on what this unique four-wheeler can do once it goes live. In the meantime, you can catch a glimpse of P0 testing between discussions with company executives in the 2-minute clip below.

P0: 4 Motor Electric UTV Test Rig

Source: Potential Drivers