Power to the People
Goldstream have teamed up with EVOlithium to offer the latest in renewable power in a stunning Rhino off-roader.
Will you ever have enough electrical power to keep everyone happy when camped in the bush for extended periods? Is checking the voltage every time you open the fridge causing such angst that your holiday is taking on a decidedly nasty taste and causing a longing for home?
Caravanning is supposed to be fun so it’s time someone came up with a simple solution to taking advantage of all the new power technology we have at our disposal.
And as you might expect it’s Goldstream RV – one of the genuine innovators of our caravan industry. They have teamed up with EVOlithium to install a power system in a first for the local industry and it’s gone into an already gob-smackingly impressive Rhino.
No more having to decide between watching a video and letting a teenager run an extended shower, because you can now get off the grid and consume power for free and without any guilt. Power from the sun is going to be around for a long while and if you don’t use it then it’s going to be wasted.
The EVOlithium system is the work of Albury based technician Ken Johnston and developed over the last two years. Ken claims his product is unique in combining a number of technologies to deliver a safe, reliable system that efficiently delivers enough electrical charge to be truly self sufficient. He worked closely with Goldstream to ensure its suitability for extended use in a mobile environment.
Four 3.2v lithium cells are sealed in a tamper-proof, stainless steel case. This delivers a total of 12.8v with a continuous output of 150amps or a maximum impulse current of 400amps@15sec.
High quality cells and double pole insulation and inbuilt management systems maximise the safety of the system, vastly reducing problems sometimes associated with lithium batteries.
If you’re still with me, that means you get a safe system that will even run an air conditioner including at its peak start-up load, and also a commercial microwave, which is significant, as it’s likely to be the biggest user of power in a van.
An advantage of lithium batteries is their ability to deliver power down to 20% of their capacity, comparing favourably with wet cells, which suffer if discharged below 50%. Lithiums also have superior recharge rates – up to 5000 cycles – for a much-extended lifespan.
Combine the battery with a 60amp Dc-DC charger, a couple of solar panels and a Tortech 2000w sine wave inverter and you can live happily off the grid indefinitely. Ok a low power generator might be necessary if you get a week of cloudy weather.
Talking about getting off the grid, can there be any more suitable rig in which to do it than the Rhino? We have visited them before but this latest one is a doozie. It’s based on their 1960 Australis van but has been beefed up and pimped into an off roader capable of taking on the worst the rugged outback can throw at it.
It sure looks the part with gloss finished composite sides in grey over black checkerplate lower down. Orange graphics and a gruff looking rhino head should clear a path through the traffic but if you want a subtler look then opt for a more traditional white and silver finish. You will still get a high riding off roader but in a quieter guise.
The 1960 name refers to its 19’6” outside body length, which strangely seems to be the norm for vans despite some 40 years of metrification in Australia. Perhaps that says something about the demographic of vanners. Many couples find this the ideal size being big enough for a roomy ensuite, a spacious dining area and a full sized queen bed.
True to its rough road capability the Rhino is built on a heavy duty Austrail chassis with 150mm x 50mm draw bar and main chassis rail topped with a 100mm x 50mm riser. A twin axle trailing arm independent coil suspension is fitted with twin shock absorbers at each arm and brakes are 12” drums.
Goldstream use a well-engineered 42mm x 19mm meranti timber frame with studs set at 250mm and all joins screwed and glued – no staples and with all furniture fixed and back-screwed into studs. It creates a frame that is inherently strong but which allows a degree of flex in extreme conditions without damage. Voids in the frame are filled with insulation and the exterior wall is a 3mm composite aluminium and polypropylene panel that is temperature resistant.
Twin gas bottles and a generator box sit on the A-frame which connects to the tow vehicle through a DO-35 hitch for superior articulation, although I noticed the rear of the van has no cutaway for extra steep creek crossings. Other features outside include a tunnel boot, entertainment hutch, outside shower and a full- length awning.
At the entrance is a new look Roto-moulded step insert to help keep this high traffic area looking neat. Forward of the doorway is the island queen bed which lifts to reveal the new EVOlithium battery system. Immediately obvious is the small space (318mm x 220mm x 375mm) the sealed case takes in comparison to the three normal batteries it replaces. At 35kg it’s also considerably lighter.
As with all Goldstreams we have reviewed over the years the standout feature of the interior is the attention to detail bestowed on the fitout and despite the Rhino’s tough exterior there is nothing rough about the living space inside. Because of the room available within the confines of the 5 x 2.4m available, there isn’t a great deal that manufacturers can do about layouts and, let’s face it, lots of Australian caravan interiors have pretty similar floor plans.
That’s not a criticism because the layout in the Rhino works well with a kitchen on the driver side facing a roomy café lounge with threefold table and comfortable fixed seating with storage cupboards below both the seats and the wall end of the table.
Kitchen fittings include a 190L Dometic three-way fridge/freezer, microwave and Thetford Mini grill. Overhead cupboards are finished in gloss black as a contrast to the white and light marble of the laminates.
Those demanding a well-equipped and roomy bathroom won’t be disappointed. In a move that adds storage space below a Daewoo Mini front load washing machine is fitted to take advantage of otherwise unused wall space, leaving room for a useful size bench with floating ceramic bowl.
How Goldstream differentiates itself is by applying high build quality into their vans and you can see this throughout with quality fittings secured neatly into place. Sumptuous leather lounges, a good supply of electrical outlets in appropriate places, state of the art lighting, cupboards and drawers that open and close fluidly, contemporary colour schemes and ergonomically arranged furniture all create an impression of a builder who cares about his customer and wants to cement his position as a long term player in the industry.
If I sound like I’m impressed by this new Rhino then that’s because I am. It’s a real breakthrough for caravanning and it’s a genuine home grown innovation. It’s the first time all the components have been brought together and it’s especially impressive being introduced in such a wild and capable offroader.
Drive away price is $96,880 with options including the EVOlithium package, leather seats, 16” alloy wheels and suspension upgrade. I’m not sure how to factor in the saving of not having to book into powered sites and the joy of extended free camping but it must be significant. Goldstream make high-end vans and the Rhino is their showpiece, now with even more sparkle.
Manufacturer: Goldstream RV
Model: Rhino 1960RE
Overall length: 7.59m
Travel height: 3.0m
Tare weight: 2470kg
Ball weight: 287kg
Price as reviewed: $96,880
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75 Bald Hill Rd, Pakenham Vic 3810
Ph: 03 5941 5571