Lithium-loaded modular X camper van takes tele-roamers truly remote
Go farther. That's what California camper van shop ModVans is urging everyone from full-time digital nomads to weekend-adventuring families to do with its new CV1/X camper van. The highly flexible AWD camper-cum-MPV is ready to roll, climb and claw to remote parts of the map and comes loaded with enough lithium to make camp for days or weeks, even when air conditioning or heat are mandatory. The impressive, little monster of a machine isn't content to merely carry you out of the city but wants to whisk you away from even the vaguest signs of human life.
ModVans got off the ground back in 2017 with a business plan built on turning the Ford Transit into a lighter, more flexible breed of full-size van camper with a modular equipment set. Half a decade later, that plan seems to be working out, and the company now has a full family of Transit-based pop-top and high-roof campers. The CV1/X is the latest of the litter, having debuted as a prototype in 2021 before going into production this year.
The CV1/X comes optimized for hardy adventurers who want to get way off the beaten track without giving up everyday conveniences like electricity and heat. That starts with a large 1,080-Ah lithium-iron-phosphate battery sized more like the type of power bank you'd expect in a much larger RV, such as a seven-figure off-road expedition vehicle, wide-roaming adventure bus or more permanent off-grid micro-home. ModVans stuffs all that battery, along with a 3,000-W pure sine wave inverter, into a Class B to ensure van lifers have all the power they need to stay comfortable without having to think twice about extending an off-grid trip by a day or two.
Those who want even more power can double the CV1/X pack to 2,160 Ah, though that option tacks on a hefty $18,000. ModVans points out that the only reason it stopped at 2,160 was that it couldn't find a larger battery compatible with its compact RV.
In addition to powering standard fare like the refrigerator and electrical outlets, the battery system also powers the electric forced-air furnace, floor heating, induction cooktop and 7,000-BTU 12-V air conditioner. ModVans reckons the battery can keep all systems, including heat or A/C, running for days, possibly weeks, maintaining a comfortable interior camper environment without propane or electrical hookups. The interior and exterior temperatures and other metrics are monitored by a cloud/app-connected central command system that can be set to send out alerts if the battery reaches critical levels.
Having loads of off-grid power on tap is really only useful if you have the capability to get far away from the grid, where hookups aren't even a distant possibility. ModVans gives CV1/X buyers that freedom by making the standard X spec a little more rugged and off-road-ready than its other vans. Factory all-wheel-drive comes standard on the 148-in-wheelbase 2022 base Ford Transit, and buyers can also opt for an aftermarket 4x4 system with 2-in lift. The standard Adventure Package includes 16-in black steel wheels, dual AGM batteries, heavy-duty scuff plates, heavy-duty towing kit and other additions. ModVans offers available upgrades like a ruggedized front bumper, winch, dual air compressor system and auxiliary lighting.
The CV1/X is based around the same ultra-flexible modular layout as its CV1 brother. A cornerstone of that design is the low Transit roof that makes for a more maneuverable, everyday-like ride versus a high roof. To maximize space while maintaining the low height, ModVans relies on a full-length electrically actuated pop-up apartment, which houses a 48 x 78-in (122 x 198-cm) bed and creates close to 7 feet (2.1 m) of standing room on the floor down below.
Down in the van cabin, the kitchen block stands just inside the passenger-side sliding door. The CV1/X kitchen swaps out the gas stove standard on other ModVans builds in favor of an induction cooktop that runs on power from the battery. Kitchen equipment also includes a deep sink, 85-L fridge and optional microwave.
Some of the kitchen equipment comes mounted in the pair of storage cabinets that sit across from each other behind the main kitchen block. These two cabinets double as the base for the 48 x 77-in (122 x 196-cm) three-panel stow-away bed, completing in-van sleeping space for four adults. Those who need more space in back for sports gear or other cargo can remove the cabinets and still rely on the wall-mounted supports for the bed.
ModVans has made some major strides with the front of its floor plan since we last looked at its campers. Instead of the side-facing rear seats it showed originally, it now offers a number of seating options up to three rows with seven seats total. Individual captain's chairs can be installed and removed as needed and all seats can even be made into swivel chairs to work with the two Lagun tables for flexible dining.
The rear bed fits in the van even with seven seats installed, but the standard kitchen does not allow for two seats in the third row. In order to install all seven seats with a full camper layout, ModVans offers a slim kitchen that includes just a narrow rectangular sink on the passenger side block and a portable induction cooktop that sets up on a Lagun table.
Note that the CV1/X comes standard with only the two non-swivel driver-cab seats, leaving all rear seats as optional add-ons. Each rear seat costs $1,500, so adding all five to max out with the seven-person layout tacks $7,500 onto the base price. The Lagun dining tables are also optional.
ModVans tops the floor plan off with the much-coveted proverbial cherry: a toilet. The high-seated cartridge toilet mounts behind the driver's side cabinet, making for easy access from outside or in. ModVans has simplified privacy by deleting the hard-walled privacy cell it previously offered in favor of a simple curtain that slides across the width of the van to close off the toilet from the rest of the cabin. The toilet mounts to a floor plate so can be as easily removed as the rest of the CV1/X camper equipment and furnishings to turn the camper into passenger or cargo van.
ModVan's flexibility extends right to its pricing sheet. When you first pull up the CV1/X order sheet, the camper van lists at $164,944, but the online configurator makes it easy to adjust that figure up or down by adding or deleting options. For instance, along with adding on an optional $1,320 300-W solar system, $898 flip-down 20-in TV or $2,180 power awning, buyers can bring the price down by deleting amenities like the furnace (-$1,477), outdoor shower/water heater (-$935) or even pop-up sleeper roof (-$9,741). ModVans estimates the next delivery date as late-November 2022.
Beyond the new CV1/X ... In an update recently posted to its LinkedIn page, ModVans also states that it's planning an all-electric camper van. That model will presumably be based on either the official Ford E-Transit or an aftermarket swap like the eLightning Motors Transit that featured in Winnebago's e-RV concept from earlier this year. The company was quite particular in picking out the Transit as its base vehicle, so we don't see any reason for that to change for its first EV. We look forward to seeing what it has in store and getting an American counterpart to the latest electric camper vans that have slowly started popping up in Europe.