Nissan revamps world's first electric camper van with pop-and-play kit
With a new generation of all-electric vans, like the Ford E-Transit, Volkswagen ID. Buzz and Mercedes EQV, taking root in the e-camper van market, Nissan's electric small vans have gotten lost in the background. But the e-NV200 was the world's first electric camper van at a time when EVs in general were still in their infancy and most RVers were quite content with gas and diesel. Nissan retired the e-NV in 2021 to make room for its successor, the Townstar EV. The wagon-like Townstar EV Kombi doesn't have quite the tiny van flair of the e-NV200, in our opinion, but it still makes a compelling little mini-camper when topped with a high-popping rooftop tent and loaded with a tailgate kitchen.
In 2010, Nissan became one of the pioneers of the modern EV market, launching the Leaf as the first mass-produced all-electric car of the pivotal 21st century. It followed up with a second electric vehicle in 2014, introducing the e-NV200 as its first all-electric light commercial vehicle. While the ICE NV200, launched a few years earlier in 2009, was not an overly popular van for camper conversions at the time, it had found some use as a mini-camper platform, putting the e-NV200 in the driver's seat toward becoming the world's first all-electric camper van.
It didn't take long. The first e-NV200 camper van came just months after Nissan began production of the electric compact van in Barcelona. UK converter Hillside Leisure presented a fully overhauled e-NV200 with complete camper interior and pop-up roof at the UK's NEC Motorhome & Caravan Show in October 2014. Hillside already had the NV200 Dalbury mini-camper van in its lineup at the time, so it was a natural transition to an e-NV200-based Dalbury E.
It took a few years for Nissan itself to get in on e-NV200 electric camper van design, but in 2018 it partnered with Bram Technologies to turn the e-NV200 into an electric mini-camper van for Spain, where the e-NV200 was built. Nissan later experimented with a broader European camper van with 2021's impressive Winter Camper Concept at a time the automaker was really exploring pandemic-era off-grid work, travel and play around the globe.
Now Nissan has officially turned the page to Chapter Two of the electric camper van story, a part of the tale that promises to introduce a much larger group of e-camper van protagonists, likely including some based on the Renault E-Kangoo with which the Nissan Townstar EV shares its roots. Nissan has specially outfitted the Townstar EV as a show car for the ongoing Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, so the van is less a camper van product and more an initial preview of the type of camping package Townstar drivers can add on their own to create a capable e-mini-camper.
Nissan cuts out the complications of a pop-up roof by bolting on a Maggiolina Airlander Plus Black rooftop tent. Below the tent's full-length pop-up roof, the 130 x 210-cm (51 x 83-in) double bed lies inside breezy mesh windows and doors with zippered weatherproofing. An included overhead light is there to cut through the pitch dark, even when campers forget their headlamp or flashlight before climbing up to bed.
Instead of calling it a day with the roof tent, Nissan has created a more capable multi-day camper with the addition of Irmscher's camper-in-a-box kit. This kit brings a tailgate kitchen with dual-burner gas stove, sink with water canister, and small 14-L fridge box. Nissan opts for just the kitchen, but Irmscher does offer the box with a fold-out bed.
Nissan does not list adjusted fuel economy figures for the mini-camper, but the base Townstar EV offers up to 183 miles (295 km) of estimated range via a 45-kWh battery pack that can charge from 15 to 80% in 37 minutes. Motivation comes from a single 121-hp electric motor, and an available heat pump supplies efficient interior heat. Nissan does not specify the size of its show car, but with 449-cm (17-in) L1 and 491-cm (193-in) L2 lengths, the Nissan Townstar EV falls quite neatly on the sub-5-m (197-in) "mini-camper van" end of the RV spectrum either way.
The Düsseldorf Caravan Salon kicked off this past weekend and runs through Sunday, September 3. In addition to the Townstar EV, Nissan will have its Primastar Seaside camper van on show.
Source: Nissan Germany