The open road. Adventure. Nature. Exploration.
We all want to live the fullest life and the beauty of humanity is that we each get to seek out our own path. Whether its living in a city, running a farm, or living life on the road, we’re free to explore and to do things our way.
Matthew Hofmann always wanted to build new things. To create. To dream. To explore and to redefine possible. An architect by trade, he spent 5 years working at a firm designing projects in Santa Barbara, California. As a side project, he took an Airstream trailer and converted it into an office for his own personal use and something clicked. He loved the simplicity of life in an Airstream and opted to make it his full time home.
His passion for smaller, well-designed mobile spaces, led him to start his own architectural firm focused on overhauling Airstream trailers. Along the way, he met his future wife Joanna and together, they lived out of an Airstream for years on the road and in Santa Barbara, California. She brought her entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen to the team, helping to distill down ideas into actionable, profitable projects.
Together, they overhauled hundreds of Airstreams on a quest to maximize each and every one for their customers. Years of playing, cutting, stretching, morphing, and living out of iconic Airstream trailers for years, they found themselves wanting to do more than the fixed Airstream platform could support. Matthew and Joanna invited CleanTechnica up to their vehicles in person and to meet some of their team and we eagerly obliged.
They saw the possibility of something better: a vehicle that enabled anyone to live anywhere, powered by sustainable energy and water from the air. So they got to work and eventually, Living Vehicles was born.
Living Vehicles grew out of their lives almost as fruit emerges from a tree. The tree spends years growing up and out, eventually squeezing out a few dozen fruit per year. Similarly, after years of living in, working with, and dreaming about Airstream trailers, Matthew and Joanna had some ideas for what this new vehicle would do.
Like the trailers that inspired it, a Living Vehicle can be pulled behind a truck, though they were designed from the ground up for longer term living in a single location. Want to live in the mountains in the spring and head down to the beach for the summer? Living Vehicles seem like the ideal way to bring all the comforts of home with you along the way.
Because it was designed to live in one place for long stretches of time, it ditches the rounded corners of Airstream trailers in favor of squared off corners that translates to more living space. The higher quality materials paired with luxury touches on the interior result in a beat of a package, tipping the scales at 11,000-15,000 pounds, depending on options.
At that weight, a heavy duty truck with some serious towing chops is required. Today, that’s relegated to mostly diesel-powered trucks, but the fully kitted out Tesla Cybertruck would be up to the task as will the heavy duty build of the Chevy Silverado EV. Of course, with its metal cladding on the outside, the Cybertruck feels like the obvious choice, if it ever shows up.
The living vehicle’s electrical systems are powered by a sustainable rooftop solar system with lithium-ion batteries for storage. The solar array starts at 1,500 watts with an option to increase its output to nearly 3 kW. A massive bank of propane can also step in to provide energy for onboard systems, though there is a certain beauty to not just being sustainable with solar and storage, but to be truly off-grid and self-sufficient.
Along those same lines, the Living Vehicle is able to produce its own water, with an optional atmospheric water generation (AWG) system. The team selected and integrated an AWG system powered by Watergen that literally pulls moisture out of the air, producing drinkable water for occupants.
The vehicle itself is extremely recyclable, with nearly 90% of its contents constructed from nearly indefinitely recyclable aluminum. More importantly and unlike most RVs, it is built to last. That characteristic alone is it’s most important feature when it comes to sustainability as the most sustainable home out there is the new home you don’t need to rebuild or replace. Living vehicles are built with durability in mind with a quality-first approach that permeates every aspect of the design.
With all these features, Living Vehicles are essentially mobile tiny homes that people can buy, enabling them to live without having to build a house. It seems like a great option for people looking to buy property and move in quickly. When it’s time to move on, it can easily be wheel to another location. It’s durability means it qualifies as an ADU — or accessory dwelling unit. With home prices reaching new heights nearly every year, ADUs are an easy way to add new living space or even an Airbnb type rental to a property without the hassle of designing, contracting, building, and permitting a new building.
It specs are impressive but they come at the cost. Living vehicles start at a rather steep $339,000 and it only goes up from there as more and more of the lucrative option packages are added. They are clearly aimed at the luxury segment, building bespoke creations custom tailored to meet the needs of the customer. In talking with Matthew and Joanna, they hinted that they plan to offer any more affordable Living Vehicle, even as early as next year.
They are currently building a few dozen vehicles per year and looking to scale. Matthew and Joanna are planning to ramp up production to get their vehicles into the hands of more like-minded owners in the hopes of achieving better economies of scale along the way.
The American dream is built on the concept of having a job, a partner, the requisite 2.1 children, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. Millennials were already rebelling against that idea and the pandemic only served to confirm that. Increasingly, they aspire to not find the perfect career where they can work for the rest of their lives but rather, a handful of part-time jobs that provide enough income for them to fun their jet setting lives.
Remote work is replacing the daily commute to the office. Starlink internet is replacing the home broadband solution. When you can work from anywhere, why does your home have to be somewhere? The Living Vehicle feels right on trend and it’s not hard to imagine people building their lives around one of these.
Life on the road presents a certain attraction and the ability to settle down and grow some roots in an area without having to marry you into the local culture is exciting. Why not date a few different geographies before settling down and buying a house. But then again, if the temporary house you’re living in offers all the comforts of a house without any of the drawbacks and gives you the ability to pick up a move whenever you want. With ease carrying all the comforts of home with you. Why buy a house at all?
All images courtesy: Living Vehicle