Our Investment in Lightship
Electrifying the RV industry
A concept design of Lightship’s all-electric tow-behind RV.
One of the many effects of the pandemic was to bolster Americans' love of the great outdoors and catalyze the growing trend of recreational vehicle (RV) use. According to The New York Times, in North America alone, there are 11.2 million households that own an RV. This follows a decade-long trend in which ownership has experienced 26% growth and, at the height of the pandemic in March 2021, broke a monthly record of 54,000 vehicles shipped to dealers. Based on a survey conducted by the RV Industry Association, “more RVs made their way to dealerships across North America in March than in any prior single month.” While the complete emissions footprint of RVs is uncertain, it’s clear that existing RVs present a spate of problems that plague both owners and the environment. RVs typically have combustion engines or generators, and often run on diesel fuel, creating a loud, smelly, and toxic experience. Moreover, the popular practice of camping in an area without electricity, “boondocking,” presents a logistical nightmare as owners have to contend with having enough fuel to power life inside the RV as well as transportation. This culminates in an experience that is cumbersome and non-climate friendly.
Lightship is working to revolutionize the RV experience by making it fully electric and seamless. Much like Tesla reimagined the car as an elegant and more environmentally friendly vehicle, Lightship is building a tow-behind trailer that incorporates innovative technology to make a sustainable, high-performing vehicle. We’re excited to announce our investment in Lightship as it pursues its vision of electrifying the RV experience.
What is Lightship?
Lightship founders, Ben Parker and Toby Kraus, share what they’re building and why — they’re hiring!
Lightship is building a tow-behind RV trailer that is fully electric and equipped with solar panels. In addition to providing a more sustainable and seamless camping experience, Lightship’s RV can also serve as a convenient battery storage solution for both EVs as well as homes. The company’s founders, Ben Parker and Toby Kraus, hail from the EV industry with previous experience at Tesla and Proterra.
Why Did We Invest?
Strong Founder-Market Fit
Suffice to say, making an electric RV is fraught with challenges. Hence, we were as much impressed by what Ben and Toby had worked on prior to founding Lightship as we were inspired by their vision for Lightship. Ben, Lightship’s CEO, worked on battery and Model 3 design while at Tesla. Toby, the company’s COO, spent several years leading finance and business operations teams at Tesla and spent many years as a VP at Proterra, a leader in commercial EV design. The many technical and manufacturing barriers within the EV production process require experience and skill to navigate, and we are confident Ben and Toby are the right founders to take on these challenges.
Serving a Market with Unmet Needs
With a U.S. market value of $26B, the RV industry is a de facto duopoly dominated by two major manufacturers, Thor Industries and Forest River (a Berkshire Hathaway company). The lack of any meaningful competition has resulted in minimal innovation in the space. Looking at the increased convenience, superior performance, and innovative technology EV owners enjoy, we believe RV owners will similarly start to expect high-performing RV options that enhance the camping experience while not degrading the environment. As the “electrification of everything” at home, work, and in transportation continues, we believe Lightship is well-positioned to help drive this trend as more people enjoy life outdoors in a recreational vehicle.
Opportunities at Lightship
Lightship is hiring a world-class team of engineers, designers, and creative thinkers ready to deliver a new form of freedom to the road, the campsite, and the future. Join them!
As part of the design of its flagship trailer, Lightship is looking to speak to members of the RV community about their experiences with RVing and electrification. If you'd be willing to participate in a half-hour interview with Lightship's team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Lightship Customer Research.”
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