Revamped Vanacea solar-electric camper rewires American van life
Two of the more impressive names in the boutique camper van industry have come together to officially launch the most capable electric camper van available to buy in the US. Rather than simply installing a camper van interior into an under-ranged factory electric van, California's Maxwell Vehicles installs its own robust electric powertrain into a full-size van, giving buyers up to 250 miles (402 km) of range. The e-drive battery then powers a homey, high-efficiency living space outfitted by Rossmönster, relying on a full-rooftop solar spread to keep the energy flowing, even when off-grid.
Based in Los Angeles, Maxwell Vehicles has built itself a business converting the always-versatile Ram Promaster (American Fiat Ducato) into the all-electric van Stellantis doesn't yet offer in the US. It sells vans to both commercial and camper customers and has already beaten out the competition in offering one of America's first and most impressive retail e-camper vans, the Vanacea.
Maxwell's latest prototype camper van represents a wider, more official Vanacea launch and a new partnership with Rossmönster, the Colorado shop whose camper creativity knows no vehicular bounds, as it's bounced from camper vans, to lid-blowing F-Series expedition trucks, to panoramic pickup toppers.
Rossmönster does what it does best once again, creating a sleek, functional floor plan inside Maxwell's electrified Ram ePro. It's been helped along by the space freed up via the all-electric van platform, which eliminates the need for a separate leisure battery, gas generator, and diesel or LPG appliances. The heat and air conditioning can be delivered quietly by the base vehicle or an optional heat pump, and the rest of the camper runs off Maxwell's traction battery.
Unlike the rather acquired-taste rear bathroom/front sleeper floor plan we saw last time around on the Vanacea, Rossmönster showcases a more classic, cargo-ready rear-sleeper option with a raised double bed over top a fairly open cargo garage. Not only does the garage have two slide-outs for easier access to bikes, camping gear, luggage and whatever else is coming along for the ride, it offers a pass-through layout to ensure larger items like skis and boards will fit without a problem.
Step down into the van from atop the bed, and the wet bathroom is directly left as you walk forward. A few more steps brings you to the kitchen block, which features a low-profile dual-burner induction cooktop, sink, worktop with flip-up extension, and under-counter fridge.
Rossmönster manages to squeeze in a side-facing sofa diagonally across from the kitchen, which definitely looks comfier than the typical front-facing European dinette. And why not – the fixed-roof van only sleeps two, so no need to strap seat belts to the rear seats. The front seats still swivel, though, and the multi-adjustable table works with those seats and/or the side sofa.
This particular floor plan is a working example, but as a capable custom builder, Rossmönster can also rearrange things around a customer's wishes.
The new Vanacea launches with an 80-kWh battery pack powering both the front-mounted electric drive and, in conjunction with a 7,800-W inverter, the onboard camping amenities. Range comes in at up to 150 miles (241 km), and Maxwell plans to launch the 250-mile dual-battery option in 2024.
Of course, range will also decrease based on how much power one uses at camp, but with 1,560 watts of solar panels up high, the battery is able to charge while driving and at camp, even when totally off-grid. The panels can add an estimated 20 miles (32 km) of range or 8.5 kWh of usable energy in a day, assuming sunny conditions. The 80-kWh battery can DC fast-charge in as little as 30 minutes, or plug in and charge more slowly at a traditional campground shore power hookup. Maxwell also plans to offer a retrofit NACS charging port for use with Tesla Superchargers, once the Tesla network is more fully open to the public.
Maxwell and Rossmönster will show the new Vanacea demo van at this weekend's Adventure Van Expo in Redmond, Oregon and again at next month's expo in Big Bear, California. After that, they plan to offer the demo van for rentals and test drives.
Interested parties can contact Maxwell for a personalized quote, but the company tells us the Vanacea camper van will range roughly between US$120,000 and $200,000, depending on options.
Source: Maxwell Vehicles