Automotive

World's latest electric RV is an awesomely multifunctional mini-camper

World's latest electric RV is ...
The Vanderer Urban Camper goes electric with what Peugeot calls the e-Rifter Vanderer
The Vanderer Urban Camper goes electric with what Peugeot calls the e-Rifter Vanderer
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The Vanderer Urban Camper goes electric with what Peugeot calls the e-Rifter Vanderer
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The Vanderer Urban Camper goes electric with what Peugeot calls the e-Rifter Vanderer
Vanderer includes its electrical system and pop-up roof standard, and the interior camper modules are offered as add-ons
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Vanderer includes its electrical system and pop-up roof standard, and the interior camper modules are offered as add-ons
The e-Rifter Vanderer lounge and kitchen transform into a double bed at night
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The e-Rifter Vanderer lounge and kitchen transform into a double bed at night
The multifunctional interior layout is among the nicest, smartest we've seen in such a small van
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The multifunctional interior layout is among the nicest, smartest we've seen in such a small van
The Vanderer package packs up behind the second row for the drive, allowing the van to transport five people
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The Vanderer package packs up behind the second row for the drive, allowing the van to transport five people
The fold-out table and lifting base create a dining area
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The fold-out table and lifting base create a dining area
As well as working as a dining area, the table lowers to double as part of the sleeping platform
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As well as working as a dining area, the table lowers to double as part of the sleeping platform
At the wheel of the Rifter Vanderer
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At the wheel of the Rifter Vanderer
The Vanderer's compact height makes it a nimble vehicle for city driving, whether serving as a camper or passenger van
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The Vanderer's compact height makes it a nimble vehicle for city driving, whether serving as a camper or passenger van
The three-seat rear bench remains installed with the Vanderer kit in back, and users can add two extra seats with the kit removed
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The three-seat rear bench remains installed with the Vanderer kit in back, and users can add two extra seats with the kit removed
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With a modular, multifunctional rear lounge so comfy it puts most full-size camper vans to shame, the Vanderer Urban Camper was easily one of the coolest mini-campers of 2021. A year and a half later, it's getting even better. The homey tiny lounge-on-wheels is going fully electric atop the Peugeot e-Rifter and Citroën e-Berlingo. It's hard to tell what's most efficient about the new van – its zero-emissions powertrain or its ability to work as a daily driver for up to seven passengers before morphing into a camper that sleeps four and allows prep and clean-up of all meals.

Back in January, Stellantis announced that its compact and midsize European passenger van lines would be going all-electric, losing the gas and diesel options. The Peugeot Rifter small van, and its Citroën Berlingo and Opel/Vauxhall Combo Life Stellantis siblings, were among the vans to make the move. With a dwindling number of ICE models left on the market, camper van makers that work with those vans are following suit and going electric, too.

Though the e-Rifter Vanderer package is currently available directly from Vanderer, Peugeot was eager to announce the new electric camper this week, on the heels of announcing some minor updates for its smallest van. The e-Rifter Vanderer serves as an intriguing early preview of the future of city-friendly zero-emissions MPV leisure vehicles.

Vanderer includes its electrical system and pop-up roof standard, and the interior camper modules are offered as add-ons
Vanderer includes its electrical system and pop-up roof standard, and the interior camper modules are offered as add-ons

The 187-in (475-cm) extended-length e-Rifter five-seater serves as the foundation of the new electric camper, bringing its 50-kWh lithium-ion battery and 134-hp (100-kW) electric motor along for the ride. Peugeot's e-drive powers a range of up to 170 miles (274 km, WLTP), which is a bit shy of new electric midsize van campers like the Tonke EQV or VW Flowcamper Volt. It gets even shier, as Vanderer estimates a drop down between 112 and 137 miles (180 and 220 km) when driving the camper variant over a mix of city, highway and country roads. That's comparable to Nissan NV200-based electric mini-campers we've seen and puts a rather tight leash around one's camping trip.

On the bright side, the Rifter's 50-kWh battery charges to 80 percent in just 30 minutes at a 100-kW public fast charger, making it fairly low-hassle to take a lunch break and power up during a road trip. When scaling things back to an 11-kW wall box, the full charge takes just over five hours.

The new e-Vanderer features the same layout and options as the original, including the L-shaped rear sofa lounge and indoor/outdoor kitchen. The kitchen has a single-hob induction cooktop inside the tailgate and a slide-out for outdoor cooking. The pull-out half of the kitchen packs a worktop, storage, and a nested backpacking stove that can be easily removed and carried away from the van. Users can cook indoors, outdoors or both at the same time.

The multifunctional interior layout is among the nicest, smartest we've seen in such a small van
The multifunctional interior layout is among the nicest, smartest we've seen in such a small van

Across the aisle, a compact water module with sink and 12-L fresh and waste water canisters fills out the driver's side rear corner. Instead of a fridge in the kitchen area, Vanderer has slid an available 16-L electric cooler between the front van seats.

The main kitchen block also contains a fold-out counter/table, which lifts to comfortable dining height, teaming up with the sofa to complete an indoor dining lounge. At night, the table drops down to serve as part of the sleeping platform, working with the folding rear bench to create a double bed. A second double bed in the pop-up roof rounds off Vanderer's furnishings.

The fold-out table and lifting base create a dining area
The fold-out table and lifting base create a dining area

Vanderer doesn't tap into the e-Rifter's battery because its conversions include a lithium battery of their own, along with a 195-W solar panel, full array of USB and 12-V outlets, a 230-V shore power hookup and outlet, and interior LED lighting.

Not only is Vanderer's kit among the warmest, nicest small-van camper conversions outside Japan, it's also fully modular. Without a single tool between them, two people can readily pull out the camping modules (minus the pop-up roof) and free up rear cargo space or add in two seats to create a full seven-seater. That's particularly valuable with the electric version, as it can serve as an efficient, zero-emissions everyday city driver and an on-demand camper van. Its short size and 6.2-ft (1.9-m) height are also nice advantages when it comes to maneuvering and finding parking in tight European city centers.

The Vanderer's compact height makes it a nimble vehicle for city driving, whether serving as a camper or passenger van
The Vanderer's compact height makes it a nimble vehicle for city driving, whether serving as a camper or passenger van

Like the prices of seemingly everything else on the planet, Vanderer's prices have risen quite dramatically since 2021. The van was initially announced with a base price just under €29,000 (approx. US$30,550), but that base now rests at €47,489 (US$50,050), after handling fees, for the Citroën Berlingo XL-based diesel variant. That price includes the pop-up sleeper roof and lithium-based electrical system but not the €7,990 interior conversion modules or €595+ console fridge. The electric variant plunks a quick €8,000 down on top of that price, before taking into account any EV incentives.

Some quick math with those numbers gets us to €64,074 (US$67,500) for a Citroën e-Berlingo XL-based Vanderer with full camper interior and cab fridge, before government incentives. The Peugeot e-Rifter model starts €2,000 higher plus an extra €300 for the fridge, which requires more center console conversion, so that's €66,374 (US$69,950).

Potential buyers who like the Vanderer layout but aren't ready to go electric just yet should note that Vanderer also offers its package for used vans, including the extended-length Opel Combo and Toyota Proace City, along with the Rifter and Berlingo models.

Source: Peugeot, Vanderer (both German)

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