Wild Ford camper concept explores new style of work-from-anywhere RV
Alpine is known the world over for the car audio and infotainment equipment it hawks in 26 different countries. What it isn't known for is designing outrageous, mold-breaking concept vehicles — but it will be from here on out. At this week's CMT camper show in Germany, the company debuted the all-new Cross Cabin Concept, a Ford Transit camper van with a skeletal Japanese-inspired interior optimized for both work and play. The custom work-from-anywhere RV supports two digital nomads with carefully shaped acoustics, productivity equipment that appears when it's needed and disappears when it isn't, and an indoor/outdoor layout that invites passengers into the fresh air, even if they're still working.
Here we thought the Winnebago eRV2 was going to be the most groundbreaking Ford Transit camper van concept we'd see for a while ... or at least this week. We certainly didn't expect Winnebago to be topped by a car electronics company, but Alpine's unconventional design looks to push the boundaries a little farther, despite the van's more conventional ICE powertrain.
A concept RV isn't quite as outside Alpine's wheelhouse as it might seem at first blush. It's an extension of the company's RV navigation and audio business and explores how the ongoing remote work trend might shape the future of RVing and products designed for the purpose.
Alpine started by talking to both new and experienced remote workers. What the company found was that the freedom of working from anywhere has created a need for a new style of "workation" machine, a more productivity focused breed of leisure vehicle designed to serve as both a vacation transporter and a workplace with a better view.
"We started to think of a new type of mobility space that offers the comfort of a traditional camper van yet allows users an optimized ergonomic space for conducting remote work wherever the whim takes them," explained Steve Crawford, director of Alpine's European brand business division. "In other words, a seamless crossover of functionalities for an ideal work-life balance…. hence the Cross Cabin."
It's not easy to create a space that encourages restful relaxation, inquisitive adventure and a dutiful work ethic all at the same time, so Alpine looked to Japanese-inspired functional minimalism and aesthetics. Its design keeps both work and life essentials close at hand but easily stowed neatly out of sight when not in use.
The Cross Cabin's entire interior looks more like sculptural artwork than it does a camper conversion. In place of precisely edged furniture, Alpine lines the 264-in (670-cm) Ford Transit cabin with a series of bamboo ribs, creating a flowing design that erases the divide between structural furnishings and aesthetic trim. The ribs conceal shelves, lighting and audio equipment within the greater aesthetic, and precise contouring at the rear carves out integrated vis-a-vis benches.
The benches work with a transformable central table to create the four-person dinette. In addition to working as a basic dining table or conference table, the tabletop converts over into a folding, laptop-like workstation with 32-in display and integrated keyboard.
Reliable connectivity is ensured via exterior 4G/LTE antennas and an Alpine x Alphatronics Stream high-speed mobile router. The 12-kWh 920-Ah Mastervolt lithium-powered electrical system promises up to three days of off-grid live/work power with the assistance of the 1,200-W solar charging system. Also included is a 3,500-W sine wave inverter and a 50-A DC-DC charger wired to the vehicle alternator.
The acoustic material used in skinning out the interior divides the cabin space into two discrete, soundproofed workspaces, one at the Smart Table and one at the swiveled driver's seat. Alpine further structures the sound zones with long, flat speakers installed inconspicuously in the acoustic paneling.
Around the main Smart Table work area, Alpine cuts down distractions without closing off the outside world entirely by extending its interior paneling over the rear and side windows. Those who prefer to get closer to their surroundings can throw open the rear doors and even slide the workspace outside via the extendable deck and movable Smart Table.
At night, the multipurpose rear lounge becomes the longitudinal bed. The table drops down and a series of cross braces connect the two benches to create a platform supporting the 55 x 79-in (140 x 200-cm) cold foam mattress.
The kitchen's placement inside the sliding passenger-side door sets up an indoor/outdoor design via which campers can swivel it outside for outdoor cookouts. It comes stocked with an induction plate, an extendable counter that uncovers the sunk-in sink and foldable faucet, a compressor refrigerator and an indoor extractor hood. Across the way, the wet bathroom sits behind the driver-side workstation/dining nook, housing a stowable waterless toilet and a shower.
Of course, there's also an Alpine sound system in the driver's cockpit, as well as a 360-degree camera and rear-view e-Mirror. An 11-in touchscreen combines regular vehicle infotainment with smart-motorhome control and monitoring.
While we're loath to say "never" so soon after the equally wild 2019 Hymer Vision Venture concept motorhome gave way to the production Venture S with only a few changes, we're inclined to believe Alpine has no plans of partnering up to launch anything like a production Cross Cabin. The company does, however, plan to incorporate feedback into its next generation of RV product offerings. After the CMT show ends this weekend, it will bring the concept to other events around and beyond Germany throughout 2023.
Source: Alps Alpine Germany