Airstream, Inc., maker of the iconic riveted aluminum travel trailers and best-in-class touring coaches, unveiled a concept travel trailer developed in partnership with legendary design firm Studio F. A. Porsche.
The concept was showcased at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas on March 10, 2023.
The Airstream Studio F. A. Porsche Concept Travel Trailer is the result of a “what if” collaboration between two expert teams with decades of combined design experience. The Studio F. A. Porsche team was charged with envisioning a next-generation Airstream trailer that incorporated elements from the design playbooks of both brands. The process engaged Studio F. A. Porsche designers in Zell am See, Austria, and Los Angeles in a steady back-and-forth with Airstream designers and engineers at the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Jackson Center, Ohio.
Brought to life through photorealistic renderings, a 1/3 scale model, and computer-assisted aerodynamic testing, the project resulted in a conceptual evolution to Airstream’s iconic riveted aluminum look that’s unlike any previous design. Among the concept’s many innovative ideas, the design addresses changing demographics in the RV market by utilizing a pop-up roof for additional interior headroom and a lowering suspension that allows city dwellers to store the trailer in a standard residential garage.
The concept design integrates numerous advances in aerodynamics, including a new rear shape that is intended to improve air flow while in motion, a flush underside with reduced drag-creating projections, the first-ever lowering suspension in an Airstream travel trailer design, and the first insulated pop-up roof in Airstream’s history. Essential systems are incorporated inside the concept’s chassis and interior, resulting in a sleek exterior that is intended to reduce protrusions that create aerodynamic drag. The ducted air conditioning, a prominent feature of many RV rooftops, is located above the concept’s floor. Several systems are tucked inside the 10-inch-deep space below the floor, including the hot water and heating components, spare wheel, holding tanks, and the lithium battery.
As conceived, this small-footprint concept travel trailer is intended to have improved aerodynamic characteristics from other Airstream travel trailers currently in production. These improved aerodynamic characteristics were validated by a third-party aerodynamics research firm.1 The improved aerodynamic performance is a result of the low ride height made possible by the pop-up roof design, lowering suspension, fewer rooftop protrusions, a smaller frontal area as compared to other Airstream travel trailers currently in production, and lighter weight from composite materials like carbon fiber. One intended result of these design modifications is a better towing experience optimized for towing with electric vehicles (EVs).
The concept is the first “garageable” Airstream design in the company’s 90-year history. Working in tandem, the pop-up roof reduces overhead clearance while the adjustable suspension in the chassis allows the trailer’s body to be lowered, enabling storage in some home garages. This capability makes ownership much easier for a broader range of customers. The chassis’ ride height can also be adjusted to improve aerodynamic efficiency or enhance off-road maneuverability.
The concept’s innovative design extends to its interior, where the team collaborated to maximize the use of space and dramatically enhance the owner experience. The extensive use of windows and skylights creates a spacious interior feel and connects owners with the beauty of their surroundings.
Building on the current popularity of the rear hatch option in select Airstream travel trailers, the concept trailer’s redesigned rear hatch features a new two-piece design, with a hinge-up hatch and a drop-down tailgate. Awnings can be attached to the hatch to create a shady place to relax and plan the next adventure. This conceptual design extends the interior living space, connecting travelers with their surroundings and allowing for easy loading of adventure gear.
The concept travel trailer features a floor plan unlike other Airstream units, including a rear seating area that transforms from dining to working to relaxing space.
The versatile seating area quickly converts from dinette seating to a large 82″ x 61″ sleeping area. Reclining seat options allow owners to enjoy the views through the open hatch.
The wet bath, incorporated into the front roadside corner, features a door that creates an enclosed, private area and swings freely to hide the toilet when it’s not in use.
This clever design opens up more space in the adjacent galley, where a hinge-up counter extends in front of the main entry door to expand the available counterspace. These ingenious design elements create a sizable L-shaped workspace that rivals what’s found in many larger travel trailers.