Solar-topped Mercedes EQV electric camper van ignites e-RV market
Not a full week into 2022, Mercedes-Benz continues swinging for the fences on automotive electrification. The cutting-edge Vision EQXX concept foreshadows how the brand plans to take a lead on the electric passenger car side, and now Mercedes becomes one of the first auto brands to introduce an all-electric camper van. Based on the 225-mile EQV electric passenger van, the new four-sleeper e-camper features a tailgate kitchen, fold-out bed and solarized pop-up roof.
Over the past few years, Mercedes has been increasing its motorhome market presence, steadily growing its own global camper van portfolio with products like its European Marco Polo vans and American Metris Weekender/Getaway, while also adding market-leading motorhome-ready features to its van lineup and exploring the future with concept RVs. With the EQV camper van, it looks to extend its RV leadership to a zero-emissions electric motorhome market in its infancy.
Ever since Mercedes first introduced the EQV in August 2019, we've been waiting for someone to develop a camper van version. With between 514 and 537 cm (202 and 211 in) of length, the EQV is a mid-size van, much like the iconic Volkswagen Transporter and larger than the small Nissan e-NV200 that has served as the base for earlier electric camper van conversions. The EQV's range looks paltry compared to the 644- and 805-km (400- and 500-mile) marks coming from the latest electric cars and pickups, but the 326- to 363-km (203 to 225-mile) WLTP range from its 90-kWh battery pack option handily beats out the e-NV200's 200- to 300-km (124- to 187-mile) spread.
We didn't think that Mercedes-Benz itself would be the first one to build out an EQV camper, and technically it's not – the conversion kit comes from Swiss upfitter Sortimo and the camper involves a "two-invoice" transaction. The kit isn't quite as clean and integrated as Mercedes' Marco Polo, relying on a slide-out outdoor kitchen rather than an interior sidewall unit. In fact, it's the same Egoé Nestbox-based Sortimo S-Camper kitchen that recently featured on the Mercedes Citan micro-camper concept.
The Sortimo S-Camper box is a nice enough tailgate kitchen, but the one disappointment with this one is that it relies on a gas dual-burner stove, missing the opportunity to make the first EQV camper run completely electrically at camp, just as it does on the road. Campers probably wouldn't want to eat into their driving range to fuel extensive cookouts, but the EQV camper does come with a separate leisure battery, along with up to 90 kilowatt-hours of powertrain battery. That secondary battery is already powering the small fridge box, so it might as well power an induction cooktop, too ... at least optionally.
In terms of overnight accommodations, the Sortimo EQV kit sleeps four people on a combination of the lower cabin bed that folds out from atop the kitchen box and the pop-up roof bed. When the bed is folded away, the rear seats can be unfolded and used like normal.
The roof can optionally be equipped with two solar panels for 400 watts of charging directed at the leisure and starter batteries (not the powertrain battery). Other camper features include darkened rear windows, interior lighting, added USB ports, and swiveling driver and front passenger seats.
Mercedes didn't include pricing in today's announcement, but the EQV's base price in Germany ranges between €67,818 (approx. US$76,725) for the regular length 60-kWh 250 to €72,281 ($81,775) for the extra-long 90-kWh 300. The Sortimo Multifunction Box kitchen/folding bed kit cost roughly €4,625 ($5,225) when we looked at it in November. Sortimo doesn't list pricing for the pop-up roof, but it uses SCA roofs in its work, and SCA lists the V-Class-sized 152 pop-up sleeper roof at €5,750 ($6,500). Since the EQV shares its dimensions with the V-Class, components built for the latter should presumably fit the former without too much redesign or fuss.
Factor in the swivel seats and other camper equipment, and we'd expect EQV camper prices to fall somewhere between €80,000 and 90,000 ($90,500 and 101,825), depending upon which model EQV the customer selects. That's more than the typical ICE-driven European camper van, including the €67,990+ Marco Polo Edition, but it does not seem harshly expensive for a Mercedes-badged all-electric camper with MPV capabilities. That might just be because we're looking at it through American eyes, which are thrilled to see any brand-new camper van, let alone an electric Mercedes camper van, with potential pricing below $100,000.
We've reached out to Mercedes to see if our estimates are within the ballpark and will update with their response.
Those who don't want to spend that kind of money might be interested to note that Mercedes says that the EQV's three-seat folding rear bench option gives it basic camping capabilities straight from the factory. But that's more of just shacking up on the folded seats, without the comfort of a mattress, kitchen, leisure battery, etc.
Update: Mercedes pieced out pricing for us a little more specifically and completely. The Sortimo conversions are only performed in Switzerland, so component prices are in Swiss francs and subject to the country's 7.7-percent VAT. The Multifunction Box with bed and kitchen starts at CHF4,787,00, and the pop-up roof starts at CHF9,980, calculating up to CHF15,904 after VAT. Convert that to €15,315, add it to the EQV 250 base price (which includes 19 percent German VAT) and you get a starting price of €83,133 (approx. US$93,930). Alternatively, if you want the longer-range, extra-long EQV 300, pricing starts at €87,596 (approx. US$99,000).