Hey all you RVers, Winnebago buys battery maker in effort to expand electric recreational vehicles. Lithionics Battery, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer based in Clearwater, Florida will bring their expertise to Winnebago. The purchase price was not disclosed. This move comes two months after Winnebago showcased its latest electric recreational vehicle concept at the Florida RV SuperShow. By owning the battery supplier, Winnebago will cut costs on the production of its vehicles. CEO Michael Happe stated that this acquisition will enhance Winnebago’s “margin profile.”
Winnebago Industries sees a significant opportunity to expand the use of Lithionics Battery’s efficient energy solutions within its own portfolio and to explore new market applications. Lithionics’ founder, Steve Tartaglia, will lead the battery line for Winnebago and aims to create a range of technologically superior products that will change the way people experience the outdoors. Winnebago has used Lithionics batteries for some recreational vehicles since 2018 as a source of “house power” for features like microwaves and air conditioning.
Winnebago Industries unveiled its first electric vehicle concept in January 2022, which had a cruising range of 125 miles. Its second concept vehicle, built on the Ford E-Transit electric van chassis, has a published range of 108 miles. However, Winnebago is actively pursuing range extension opportunities.
Winnebago Industries experienced a boom in business during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic as families sought outdoor activities like camping. However, the business has since slowed as families spend more conservatively. Despite this, the success of the past couple of years has increased Winnebago’s buying power. In April 2022, Lithionics Battery was sued by the Federal Trade Commission over its “Made in USA” labels and settled by paying a fine and agreeing to comply with regulations.
ElectrifiedMag’s Take: For those paying attention, vertical integration manufacturing is the new, old wave of EV manufacturers. Historians remember that Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant which invented verticle integration, received raw materials (iron ore, sand, rubber) on one end of the factory, and shortly thereafter, a complete Model T popped out the other end. Key benefits of verticle integration are reducing reliance on supply chains and ensuring the quality of the components installed in the finished product.
Winnebago was printing money during the “pandemic” and has deep pockets. Buying and integrating a battery company not only cuts costs and increases quality, but it also brings the critical intellectual property to the company. Now, if they can get the range up to 250 miles or more on a charge, Winnebago will be ready for an electrified future.