Hymer's unworldly camper van lunges into van life future
Keeping the van life craze moving forward, Hymer explores the future with the all-new VisionVenture concept, a Mercedes camper van that looks like a live-in lunar rover but aspires to live like a town home. Borrowing from the worlds of yachts, tiny homes and custom camper conversions, Hymer equips the plus-sized camper van with boundary-pushing features like a transforming wet/dry bathroom, rear tailgate deck and inflatable pop-top. It hopes to entice the next generation of off-grid explorers, always-connected digital nomads and gap year destination-hoppers.
Hymer recently introduced the DuoCar S as something of the perfect Sprinter camper for van life couples, and the VisionVenture moves that conversation forward. The oversized camper van could very easily be a family motorhome, but Hymer instead spreads things out to create a luxurious two-sleeper. Rather than housing an extra double bed, the van's pop-up roof houses the only bed, topping a two-story roaming apartment layout optimized for cozy couples. The upstairs (literally ... this van has actual stairs) is protected by inflatable baffles for added R-value and opens up to a flat section of van roof that serves as a small balcony. Relieved of any sleeping duties, the main level downstairs is left to serve as a spacious, thoughtfully arranged living area.
Hymer keeps it extra spacious by avoiding the temptation to throw a prototype conversion kit into a factory Sprinter and instead building a larger cabin that maintains the general look and feel of a van, but with more size and space. Hymer even reworks the Sprinter cab, adjusting the A pillars, shortening the hood and pushing the windshield forward to better create a more seamless, contoured design from bumper to bumper.
Hymer fancies its Vision a new class of motorhome, and while others like Wingamm and Mauer have done similar aftermarket-bodied camper van work, we agree such vehicles are not quite camper vans (Class B) and not quite Class B+ motorhomes (e.g. Hymer's own Van S). Hymer finishes the custom exterior with a thorough dousing of BASF's award-winning Climacool automotive paint, claimed to lower exterior surface temperature by up to 20 degrees and interior temperatures by up to 4 degrees.
Hymer capitalizes on its upsized cabin to create a spacious, livable and homey interior. It puts an emphasis on space-optimizing, multifunctional equipment that never feels cold or utilitarian, warmed by materials like felt, wood, bamboo and leather. The bathroom, for instance, is a narrow wet cell behind the entry door, a typical camper van bathroom. But with the push of the roller wall and pull of the rotating vanity sink, it becomes a relaxing rain shower separated completely from the sink and toilet. BASF Veneo Slate, a pliable surfacing material with razor-thin natural-stone facing, enhances the look and feel of the space.
Behind the upholstered outer wall of the bathroom cell, the rear lounge houses vis-a-vis sofas flanking a folding dining table that drops down and retracts away below the passenger-side bench. This seating group takes in views through the large panoramic rear window and wraparound side windows. Campers can open the rear window upward for al fresco-style dining and drop the lower gate to step out onto a rear sun terrace, where they'll also find a slide-out electric grill with food prep station. Hymer isn't the first to drop a yacht-like deck on the back of a concept camping vehicle, and we really hope that vision works its way into the average production camper.
The rear walls are covered in deck-matched paneling that not only lends to the warm, modern styling but also secures equipment and ornamentation via grooves running its length. Campers can quickly reposition camping tools, cooking utensils, lights, planter boxes, pictures and more.
The driver-side kitchen block includes a flush cooktop, sink basin below a faucet emerging from wall tile, and yacht-style refrigerator drawer mixed in with ample under-counter storage. The kitchen combines seamlessly with the sidewall-hugging staircase that's plucked right out of tiny home design. The stairs include motion-activated lighting, non-slip trim, and under-tread storage.
To better serve the work-from-anywhere segment, the VisionVenture includes a dedicated workstation. A laptop desk folds down in front of the swiveled passenger seat, bringing along a pin board, LED lamp and electrical outlets.
Back outside, sharply cut approach and departure angles, skid plates, bead lock-style wheels, an LED light bar and all-terrain tires give the VisionVenture the look of a motorhome that can handle itself off-road. The van also includes a 4x4 system, and roof-mounted solar adds off-grid power.
While we'd love to see a van very much like the VisionVenture go into production immediately (the Hymer Venture has a nice ring to it), this one's just a design study. Hymer CEO Christian Bauer does say that the company will use some of the concept's solutions in future production vehicles. And hopefully Hymer's overlords at Thor Industries are making plans to bring them over to American shores. The video clip below shows animation of the VisionVenture's many features.