Holzmobil off-grid woody motorhome goes au naturel inside and out
Germans love themselves RVs of all shapes and sizes, from bus-sized convertibles to seamlessly converted 4x4s. Wood campers, from large, piney fresh expedition vehicles to modern-day gypsy wagons, are a chapter of that love story that gains a new character. Holzmobil (Woodmobile) imagines a more sustainable breed of road travel, debuting with a MAN 4x4-based motorhome with all natural wood construction from wall to wall.
Creating a motorhome cabin that feels more like an off-grid wilderness cabin, Holzmobil reaches for certified sustainable German woods for the entirety of its module construction, eliminating all plastics from the interior design. What's left is a warm, rustic wood space that looks like a steam sauna you can live in. Ensuring it never feels like a sauna is a patent-pending roof design built to allow moisture to escape while maintaining a comfortable temperature inside. Insulation is a wood material, as well.
Holzmobil's first model is built atop a MAN TGE 4.180 4x4 van chassis, with a hot-dipped galvanized support frame between chassis and motorhome. The two beds are located at opposite ends of the floor plan, a 140 x 200-cm (55 x 79-in) bed sleeping two transversely in the rear and a 130 x 200-cm (51 x 79) bed sleeping two more up in the alcove.
The lounge below the alcove plants an expandable dining table between four swivel captain's chairs, two in the driver's area and two for the rear passengers. The kitchen is on the driver's side, across from the entry door, bringing a cooktop, sink and 50-L fridge. The walls, doors, floors, support beams and shelves all look and smell of handcrafted oiled wood, accented in certain areas by glass, metal hardware and contrast inlays. Even the lighting fixtures are crafted from wood.
The bathroom fixtures are separated into toilet/vanity sink and shower compartments, located between the kitchen and raised rear bed area. The shower compartment is too compact to be used on its own, instead joining with the toilet room directly across the way via the two sets of doors to create a single motorhome-width bathroom closed off from the rear bedroom and front kitchen/lounge. The aisle floor panel removes to access the shower pan. The steam sauna feeling grows ever more palpable in the bathroom, where bare wood rises and flows around everything beyond the plumbing and electrical hardware.
The Holzmobil cuts cords from the electrical grid with a 400-Ah lithium battery bank and a 700-W pair of solar panels. The standard 90-L fresh water tank can be upgraded by customers who want a little more H2O autonomy. The motorhome is also packed with modern technology, including a touchscreen command center with accompanying app, individual displays and speakers for both rear passengers, and a swivel-mounted television in the rear bedroom. Electric heat and diesel hot water are also on offer, and the motorhome is LPG-free.
Holzmobil keeps the wood bare outside, too, relying on a seven-part coating derived from from boatbuilding to provide weatherproofing. It prevents chips and cracks around the edges with diamond-plate trim. The motorhome module eats up 3,700 kg (8,157 lb) of the truck's 4,500-kg (9,920-lb) GVWR, leaving 800 kg (1,763 lb) of payload to split between passengers and provisions. The full vehicle stretches 770 cm (303 in) in length and 214 cm (84 in) in width, rising to a total height of 325 cm (128 in).
All that wood craftsmanship doesn't come cheap. A complete 4,500-kg truck build like this one costs €182,800, Holzmobil managing director Oliver Offenburger tells us. He says that buyers who can't quite justify that price can lower the cost by cutting back on equipment, such as dropping the 4x4 system. Conversely, buyers can customize the build-out for added cost.
Holzmobil is also working on a smaller 3,500-kg truck that will fall under a standard European Class B driver's license.
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The sun is too intense and it's too hot. Just like the VW Beetles (from Germany) always had cracked dashboards because they were made with a plastic that came apart in a couple of years in the states. On top of that, I'm wondering if you've ever owned an RV like a motorhome or 5th wheel or camping trailer. Because anyone that's had one over a couple of years knows that any part of RVs made with wood will come apart because of all the bouncing and swaying as you go down the road.
That exterior would have to be waxed constantly. So that rig should stay in Europe.
1) That weather-exposed wood will require excessive regular maintenance vs more durable materials - sanding down and finishing to prevent it from rotting, every few years, just like a boat.
2) The only way to extend its life is to build an extra garage (or in effect, require someone else do so) to store it inside when not in use. Not very green.
Interior lighting appears to be an all waking hours requirement to keep that window-neutered space from feeling like a cave.
But good thing it only costs US $215,000 so it is approachable by the common person.