Camper vans look like a perfect platform for using both electric and hybrid technologies, they already have battery packs and their shape is a good basis for the skateboard platforms. Which might lead you to ask is there a hybrid camper van available?
When it comes to North American markets, there aren’t any hybrid camper van options available as a complete solution you can go and buy. But, some conversion kit companies do jobs on select hybrid vehicles in the US.
Besides these conversion kits, there are several promising concepts and conversions produced in Europe that could give inspiration to American RV builders for the future.
What exactly is a hybrid vehicle?
Before we get into the detail of hybrid camper vans available around the globe, let’s first discuss for a moment what is a hybrid electric vehicle. Because this is important to understand what are their advantages and disadvantages.
In the simplest terms, a hybrid vehicle is one that is equipped with both electric motors and internal combustion engines. These vehicles can be divided into two groups, based on the function of the ICE engine, HEVs and PHEVs.
In the first group, HEVs, are vehicles that for powering the wheels use both electric motors and internal combustion engines. Depending on the situation either one of them is working or both.
The PHEVs or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use only the electric motors for powering the wheels, while the internal combustion engine is used for recharging the batteries.
Definition of a Hybrid Camper Van
A hybrid camper van would be a camper van that falls into one of the above two categories of hybrid vehicles. It would be a camper van that can be powered by its electric motors and/or the internal combustion engine.
In theory, camper vans are perfect vehicles for PHEV technology, as they already require the installation of batteries for powering various electric systems that are needed for them to function as an RV.
Is there a hybrid camper van?
In the North American markets, there are no turn-key hybrid camper vans available. This is a great shame as more and more people are getting interested in RVing and are looking to make their first steps with an affordable purchase.
And many of them are environmentally conscious people, who would certainly be interested in purchasing more eco-friendly vehicles. But, there are some hybrid camper vans available in Europe.
So, let’s check them out and see what the future of these vehicles could look like in America.
Dethleffs Globevan e.Hybrid
Dethleffs’ Globevan e.Hybrid is a hybrid camper van that is based on the plug-in hybrid model of Ford Transit Custom. Dethleffs is a German company and one of the oldest producers of RVs in Europe.
While the Globevan is their pre-production model and has an uncertain future, it is an excellent case study of what could be done with existing hybrid vehicles.
Ford Transit Custom has a battery pack that provides around 31 miles of range and the 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine that recharges them, thus extending the range.
With a full tank, it can fully recharge the battery pack nine times, giving it a maximum range of 310 miles.
Campervan Co. Eco Evolution and Eco Pioneer
Campervan Co. is a Scottish company that is currently offering one hybrid camper van model with another one in the prototyping phase and is expected to become available in near future.
Currently, they have available the Eco Pioneer model, based on the Toyota Alphard hybrid vehicle.
Besides it, they are prototyping the Eco Evolution camper van model based on the Ford Transit Custom PHEV.
Hertford Campers Nissan Serena Hybrid conversion
Another British company which is showing the world what can be created on the platform of a family-sized minivan. In this case, they are building their hybrid RV on the base of the Nissan Serenas that they import on the grey market from Japan.
While these do not have the same interior space as Ford Sprinters, they show what can be done even with minivans.
Are there any hybrid camper van conversions available in the USA?
Though there are no current hybrid models of camper vans available on the US market, there are some options available to you if you are looking for this type of RV.
If you have a certain make and model of a minivan or van, you can find a company that can do a conversion of it into a campervan. So, here are a few words about them.
Oasis Campervans is a camper van conversion company with HQ in Broomfield, Colorado. They are specialized in converting Honda Odyssey, but also hybrid versions of Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica.
So, if you are an owner of one of these vehicles, one way to get to a hybrid camper van is to use their services.
What are camper vans built on?
Most commonly camper vans are built on the chassis of commercial cargo vans. Vehicles such as Ford Transit, RAM ProMaster, Mercedes Sprinter, and so on. These vehicles have a spacious cargo area that can be converted into a living and sleeping space.
Some RV companies also use the cutaway van chassis versions of these vehicles and produce superstructure and all other bits and pieces of the RV.
Why there aren’t hybrid camper vans in the US
The main reason why there aren’t any pre-built hybrid camper van vehicles in America is that they are a niche product that is not in high enough demand.
The electrification of commercial vehicles in America is bound to skip the hybrid versions, so there is not really a technological base on which RV makers would build their models.
Because in the coming years some fully electrical commercial vans will be sold in the States by carmakers such as Ford and Mercedes Benz, we are more likely to see the introduction of all-electric camper vans.
Is there a hybrid camper van model available on the American market is a question asked by many people who are looking for a more economical and ecological RVing experience.
Unfortunately, there are no turn-key models available for the simple fact of the absence of the hybrid van models from which they would be built.
But the future looks bright, as in the next couple of years fully electric commercial vans will be introduced to the market, and it will create conditions for the development of camper vans of the same kind.
(featured image: campervanco.com)