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Mercedes-Benz’s EQV Camper Conversion Begs Lots of Questions

·3 min read
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
  • Mercedes-Benz reveals its EQV camper conversion by specialist Sortimo Walter Rüegg PLC, based on EQV 250 and EQV 300 models.

  • The camper features a pop-up roof, kitchen unit with gas stove and bed positioned over the folded rear seats, in addition to swiveling front seats.

  • The longer-range EQV 300 model features a 90-kWh battery, which gives the van a range of 225 miles in the WLTP cycle.

While the planned arrival of the Volkswagen ID.Buzz California is still off in the distance, automakers have already been thinking about giving electric vehicles the camper treatment. Earlier this month Mercedes-Benz unveiled a camper van based on the Mercedes-Benz EQV, which has been in production since 2020, with Swiss conversion specialist Sortimo Walter Rüegg PLC, offering a bed unit on top of folded rear seats, a pop-up roof, and a kitchen unit in the rear luggage compartment.

Among other items, the camper features two solar panels integrated into the pop-up roof, which charge the auxiliary battery and the starter battery, swiveling front seats, and darkened rear windows. The rear kitchen unit includes a sink, refrigerator, drawers, and, curiously enough, a gas cooker. The bed unit, meanwhile, wraps up to allow for the rear seats to be used when needed, while in its deployed position it sits at the window sill line.

"The special feature of the camping modules is their lightweight construction. This pays off especially when used in an electric van, because every kilogram saved means greater range," Mercedes notes.

The van itself is offered with a choice of two drivetrain batteries, and therefore ranges. The EQV 250 features a 60-kWh battery, offering a range of 236 kilometers (146 miles) in the WLTP cycle. The EQV 300, on the other hand, features a 90-kWh battery and offers a range of 363 kilometers (225 miles) in the WLTP cycle.

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

As you've probably noticed, the EQV camper seems to be bumping up against some very harsh realities of typical camper usage—namely, range—with the smaller 60-kWh battery placing the EQV 250 in the company of some of the lowest-range EVs on the market, most of which are small hatchbacks. The 90-kWh battery, while giving it a range of over 220 miles in the (still optimistic) WLTP cycle, improves the equation a little, most likely it's not enough for those living the van life in Europe to opt for this model, given the price of the base vehicle itself.

The camper lifestyle does not always overlap well with the EV lifestyle when it comes to charging infrastructure in Europe, where the EQV will be marketed, raising real concerns about the flexibility of a camper van with such a low base range.

The prospect of charging an EV via an appliance outlet at a campsite for two days may not sound appetizing to some camper van owners, either.

On the other hand, the issue of adequate charging could otherwise work well with the camping ethos: Traveling from campsite to campsite while recharging very slowly at each location. Perhaps that will be the whole point of an EV camper without a massive battery.

More than simply raising questions about its own limitations, Mercedes' Sortimo camper could also predict just how well received other EVs of this type will be in a few years when there are some to choose from. VW has largely confirmed that it will produce a California version of the ID.Buzz, but this does not necessarily imply that it will be regularly used as such by its owners on trips beyond the Pacific Coast Highway—say, in places like Montana or Alberta.

Will camper vans of this type remain gas- and diesel-powered in the current decade and beyond, or will battery-electric models quickly win over buyers? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned