Tonke Mercedes EQV emerges as world's most refined electric camper van
It's taken a little longer than anticipated, but the Mercedes-Benz EQV has flourished into the stylish, capable all-electric camper van it's always had the potential to be. Nearly three years after its debut, the EQV lays the foundation for a new electric camper van series from innovative Dutch RV specialist Tonke. The flagship Tonke EQV Touring drives and camps on pure battery power, comfortably accommodates a family of four, and cooks dinner inside or out on a versatile swivel kitchen.
Tonke explains that it has long wanted to put together an all-electric camper and was merely waiting on the right vehicle. After testing the EQV, it realized the right vehicle had arrived.
Mercedes bills the EQV as the world's first premium electric van, and with up to 226 miles (363 km) of estimated range and a versatile midsize build that seats up to eight people, the EQV has long seemed the perfect factory van candidate to become Europe's most capable electric camper van, perhaps even the first e-camper van to break into the mainstream. The EQV has more range than the Vauxhall Vivaro-e , more space and conversion potential (and range) than the Nissan e-NV200, and a factory electric powertrain that doesn't require an aftermarket conversion. It's also a very nice MPV loaded with standard and available features like 10.3-in MBUX infotainment with voice control, Burmester surround sound, and a driver-assistance suite with standard and available features that include Distronic active distance assist, blind-spot assist, 360-degree camera and plenty more.
Mercedes made a rather half-hearted attempt at an EQV camper van back in January, but Tonke has gone the full mile with a complete, fully functional Class B motorhome that feels like a premium electric camper on a premium electric van. Much like other midsize-van camper models, including Mercedes' own Marco Polo family, the Tonke EQV series includes both a light, weekender-style sleeper van and a fully equipped camper van.
The EQV Touring debuts as Tonke's flagship electric model, a complete camper van centered around a two-seat rear bench that power-folds down into an 80 x 45-in (203 x 115-cm) double bed. Families looking to sleep all four vehicle occupants can add the available pop-up roof with 77 x 43-in (195 x 110-cm) double bed.
The kitchen design derives from Tonke's VW Van but goes fully electric, ditching LPG to power up solely via battery. That means a two-place induction cooktop subs in for the gas stove, joining the 36-L electric compressor cool box and sink. As on the Tonke VW Van camper, the clever kitchen swivels out the driver-side sliding door to double as an outdoor galley, perfect for campers who like to spend as much time outside as possible but retreat inside during bad weather.
The kitchen block includes another trick: its interior face panels swing up and double as a table for use between the swivel front seats and rear bench. Outside, the dining table becomes a handy worktop to complement the main kitchen block.
Moving back from the kitchen block, a multi-tiered fridge, cabinet and wardrobe console fills out the remainder of the sidewall.
While quite respectable compared to other electric vans, the 201-hp EQV Touring's 223 miles (360 km) of range is still on the lean side when it comes to escaping the city and embracing open-road adventure. Tonke avoids any temptation to power its fully electric camper setup off the van's 90-kW traction battery and instead adds a separate 100-Ah lithium battery for that purpose. That battery works in conjunction with a 3,000-W inverter to supply AC power to the 230-V outlets.
Tonke's lighter EQV Adventure sleeper van replaces the two-seat rear bench with a three-seat bench that transforms into a larger 80 x 57-in (203 x 145-cm) bed that's just 3 inches (7.7 cm) narrower than a proper residential queen. The Adventure can accommodate two extra seats (sold separately) for up to seven passengers.
Unlike the Touring, the Adventure does not come with a kitchen, but Tonke offers an optional slide-out tailgate kitchen that looks quite similar to the Egoé/Sortimo kitchen that featured in the Mercedes-Benz EQV camper van package premiered earlier this year. That kitchen comes with a gas dual-burner stove, sink with collapsible basin, fold-out worktop and available 14-L fridge. A floor rail-mounted module with fold-out leafs is available as an optional interior dining table.
Germany's Flowcamper recently debuted a nicely rounded camper package for a third-party electrified used VW Transporter, but considering Tonke's van is based on a brand-new Mercedes factory electric van, offers roughly 30 extra miles (48 km) of estimated range and has a cleaner, gas-free floor plan, the EQV Touring easily takes the crown for smoothest, most refined electric camper van design to date. VW camper vans will have the chance to chase that title just as soon as conversion shops, perhaps including Tonke, get their hands on the ID. Buzz, which entered production last week.
Tonke revealed both EQV campers at a company event in May. The EQV Adventure starts at €68,357 (approx. US$73,000) for the most basic spec, and the version we configured online with the slide-out kitchen, refrigerator and interior table comes out to €72,956 ($77,925), including VAT. Considering that Mercedes' EQV van pricing starts at €67,818 ($72,450) after VAT, that's not too bad at all.
The EQV Touring starts at €91,604 ($97,875), so buyers can get a complete two-person camper van that drives and camps on all-electric power for under 100K. The pop-up sleeper roof adds €10,115, so the four-person variant nudges into six-figure territory at €101,719 ($108,675).
And for those who refuse to stay away from home without their own private toilet, Tonke offers a very basic solution in its foldable, floor-mounted WAG bag stand. It's not fancy, but it'll get the job done (or help you do so, at least).