THOR Industries Announces Binding Mou with ZF Friedrichshafen AG for Global Electric Trailer Systems
December 23, 2021
ELKHART, Ind., Dec. 23, 2021 — THOR Industries, Inc. (NYSE: THO) announced the execution of a binding Memorandum of Understanding with ZF Friedrichshafen AG (“ZF”) which outlines the parties’ joint development of a proprietary high voltage electric drive system for towable recreational vehicles (“eTrailer System”). The development driven by THOR and ZF is designed to maintain, and possibly extend, the nominal range of an electric vehicle when towing a trailer.
Electric vehicles experience a significant reduction in range when towing any load, including a trailer. Unlike an ordinary trailer, a trailer equipped with the eTrailer System would be capable of moving utilizing its own power. Through its sophisticated technology, components and sensors, the trailer’s drive moves the trailer at the same speed of the tow vehicle, allowing an electric tow vehicle to pull the trailer with minimal loss of range.
The technology also has the potential to boost fuel efficiency of conventional tow vehicles with internal combustion engines or hybrid drivetrains. By reducing the load when pulled, conventional tow vehicles would burn less fuel and would also benefit from extended range.
In July 2021, THOR companies Erwin Hymer Group and Dethleffs demonstrated the capabilities of this technology by using an electric Audi etron Sportback to tow an eTrailer System-equipped travel trailer prototype from Germany to Italy, over the Alps. The eTrailer System enabled the tow vehicle to pull the trailer a distance of 386 km (approximately 240 miles) through the Alps on a single charge and with power still remaining in the eTrailer System, as well as in the electric tow vehicle. Audi’s stated range for the tow vehicle is 393 km.
Joint development between THOR and ZF has led to a concept travel trailer equipped with a prototype eTrailer System. The concept vehicle will be on display at the Tampa RV Supershow from January 17-23, 2022.
“THOR is thrilled to enter into this partnership with ZF, a global technology company enabling next generation mobility. The eTrailer System, which THOR, Erwin Hymer Group (EHG), and ZF have jointly developed over the last several years, is the only high voltage solution available in the RV space,” stated Bob Martin, THOR President and Chief Executive Officer. “The significance of this technology, compared to other solutions in the space, is the dramatic effect it has on range and the potential for charge and power to both the tow vehicle and appliances in an RV. We believe that this technology is a game-changer, and through the work of our team, THOR is positioned to be the global leader of e-mobility solutions in the industry.”
“When we acquired EHG in 2019, there were many synergies which made the acquisition important to THOR. From our perspective, EHG was the global leader in electrification innovation in the RV space. They had initiated this project with ZF in 2018, before we acquired the company. After the acquisition, THOR’s innovation team, led by our Chief Innovation Officer Josef Hjelmaker, helped lead the development and creation of the concept travel trailer. In addition to the concept trailer, powered by the eTrailer System, the innovation team will be unveiling an electric vehicle with range extension technology at the Tampa RV show,” offered Todd Woelfer, THOR’s Chief Operating Officer.
“Our relationship with ZF gives THOR the exclusive rights to this technology in the RV space for a certain period and perpetual rights in key aspects of the intellectual property supporting the development.
Long term investment in innovation is a high priority in THOR’s strategic plan, which led to this outcome,” Woelfer continued. “Our commitment to continue long term investments in innovation should give our shareholders great confidence that THOR will maintain its position as the market leader, even as coming technologies disrupt our industry.”
About THOR Industries, Inc.
THOR Industries is the sole owner of operating companies which, combined, represent the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.
For more information on the Company and its products, please go to www.thorindustries.com.
This release includes certain statements that are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements are made based on management’s current expectations and beliefs regarding future and anticipated developments and their effects upon THOR, and inherently involve uncertainties and risks. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance. We cannot assure you that actual results will not differ materially from our expectations. Factors which could cause materially different results include, among others: the extent and impact from the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the responses to contain the spread of the virus, or its variants, by various governmental entities or other actors, which may have negative effects on retail customer demand, our independent dealers, our supply chain, our labor force, our production or other aspects of our business; the ability to ramp production up or down quickly in response to rapid changes in demand while also managing costs and market share; the effect of raw material and commodity price fluctuations, and/or raw material, commodity or chassis supply constraints; the dependence on a small group of suppliers for certain components used in production; the level and magnitude of warranty and recall claims incurred; the ability of our suppliers to financially support any defects in their products; legislative, regulatory and tax law and/or policy developments including their potential impact on our dealers and their retail customers or on our suppliers; the costs of compliance with governmental regulation; public perception of and the costs related to environmental, social and governance matters; legal and compliance issues including those that may arise in conjunction with recently completed transactions; lower consumer confidence and the level of discretionary consumer spending; interest rate fluctuations and their potential impact on the general economy and, specifically, on our dealers and consumers; the impact of exchange rate fluctuations; restrictive lending practices which could negatively impact our independent dealers and/or retail consumers; management changes; the success of new and existing products and services; the ability to maintain strong brands and develop innovative products that meet consumer demands; the ability to efficiently utilize existing production facilities; changes in consumer preferences; the risks associated with acquisitions, including: the pace and successful closing of an acquisition, the integration and financial impact thereof, the level of achievement of anticipated operating synergies from acquisitions, the potential for unknown or understated liabilities related to acquisitions, the potential loss of existing customers of acquisitions and our ability to retain key management personnel of acquired companies; a shortage of necessary personnel for production and increasing labor costs to attract production personnel in times of high demand; the loss or reduction of sales to key dealers; disruption of the delivery of units to dealers; increasing costs for freight and transportation; asset impairment charges; competition; the impact of potential losses under repurchase agreements; the potential impact of the strength of the U.S. dollar on international demand for products priced in U.S. dollars; general economic, market and political conditions in the various countries in which our products are produced and/or sold; the impact of changing emissions and other related climate change regulations in the various jurisdictions in which our products are produced, used and/or sold; changes to our investment and capital allocation strategies or other facets of our strategic plan; and changes in market liquidity conditions, credit ratings and other factors that may impact our access to future funding and the cost of debt.
These and other risks and uncertainties are discussed more fully in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended October 31, 2021 and in Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended July 31, 2021.
We disclaim any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained in this release or to reflect any change in our expectations after the date hereof or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based, except as required by law.
Mark Trinske, Vice President of Investor Relations