Darc debuts with wicked Dakar-inspired carbon off-road motorhome
German startup Darc is making its debut with an impressive carbon-monocoque motorhome inspired by the contrasting worlds of Dakar and F1 racing. The "ultimate expedition vehicle" journeys away from hookups for two weeks at a time, exploring remote corners and canyons that lesser vehicles have no hope of seeing. While out there, it supports both work and play with features like a 270-degree panoramic window array, long skylight, mobile workstation with 4K projector and bespoke audio system, and available motorcycle carrier.
Darc starts the build off with a 2021 Iveco Daily 4x4 full-size van chassis, upgrading it with a custom adaptive suspension developed in conjunction with KW Automotive. It further improves upon the Daily 4x4's capabilities by bolting on milled aluminum wheels with 37-in all-terrain tires, a gnarly custom-built tubular-steel bull bar, a 10-tonne winch and a carbon fiber snorkel.
Darc cofounders Jens Buchert, Tom Konecny and Dirk Heinemann all bring experience in building their own camping rigs, and each brings his own insight and expertise developed at renowned brands like BMW, Daimler and Pininfarina. Heinemann's experience with carbon fiber, honed in the yachting and Formula 1 arenas, guides the construction of the 161-in (420-cm)-long carbon fiber monocoque.
The Mono module differs slightly from the typical cube or cube + alcove of other motorhome and expedition vehicle designs. It was inspired by Dakar trucks and further shaped by aerodynamic considerations, resulting in a distinctive look with angular facets around the front and side roof edges and a spoiler at the rear edge. The carbon fiber-sandwich build cuts weight while still delivering robust structural integrity and high insulation values. It allows for the addition of the 270-degree window layout, 82.7-in (210-cm)-long rooftop skylight and available external gear carrier systems.
Darc really makes an impression inside the motorhome, where it carves out a functional and fashionable interior bathed in the warm sunlight flooding through the generous amount of glass enclosing it. The 6.7-foot (205-cm)-high interior includes a five-seat dinette under the windows at the rear. Rather than transforming clumsily into a bed itself, the dinette stands still while the 76 x 55-in (193 x 140-cm) bed drops down at the push of a button. During the day, the bed stores away neatly up against the ceiling.
The Mono's kitchen comes anchored by a Thetford Triplex range with three-burner stove and oven. It also includes a large rectangular sink with high faucet, loads of drawer storage, and a 90-L Dometic fridge/freezer just across the entryway between the bathroom door and the coat closet. Those who prefer cooking outside will be happy to note that Darc includes a VeryCook Simplicity 2 plancha-style gas grill as part of the equipment package, storing it away in an under-chassis locker.
The Mono's corner bathroom has a more homey look than the average RV wet bath thanks to its hovering basin sink, slatted bamboo floor, tall window, storage cubbies and towel hooks. The space includes a dry separating toilet from Nature's Head.
Darc rounds out the Mono interior with a mobile office area equipped with multiple power outlets and storage where work equipment can be quickly stashed. Its tech suite includes a ViewSonic M2 mobile projector and a Jehnart Audio 5.1 surround sound system. The Mono spec sheet doesn't mention connectivity hardware, but we can't imagine Darc won't offer to wire in mobile internet for those planning to live and work on the road.
To provide for the claimed two-person/two-week off-grid autonomy, Darc starts off with a 360-Ah 24-V lithium-iron-phosphate battery fed by a 360-W solar charging array. That battery powers equipment and electrical outlets with help from a 3,500-W inverter. The Mono carries 185 liters of fresh water to go along with 190 liters of diesel fuel for the Daily 4x4's 3.0-liter four-cylinder and onboard diesel appliances like the Truma Combi D6E air/water heating system. General storage can be found all around the interior and exterior of the vehicle, totaling over 2,600 liters.
Darc makes clear in this month's announcement that it will not be disclosing pricing just yet but promises that the Mono will be priced competitively with class rivals ... which is something of a throwaway line in a custom-heavy market in which even similar vehicles differ wildly in build and spec.
Fellow German company Bimobil sells expedition vehicles on the same 149-in (3,780 mm)-wheelbase Iveco Daily 4x4 starting in the low €200,000s, but it does not use carbon fiber construction. German builder Maltec does use carbon fiber, but it specializes in smaller, pop-up expedition campers built on older model-year 4x4s like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Defender, with currently listed models ranging between €152,000 and €192,500. Across the Atlantic, TruckHouse and EarthRoamer priced their respective US carbon fiber expedition vehicles at $285,000 and $590,000 (approx. €234,500 and €485,250) upon introduction, both noting that options would send individual prices soaring well higher.
If those competitor prices don't have you scrambling for the back button in disgust, you might be happy to know that Darc plans to begin taking orders in March, with the first deliveries to roll out in August. From there, it intends to develop a family of expedition rigs to join the Mono.