RV modules open endless flexibility for affordable custom van builds
Dutch company Van Jorn presents a new way of building out your dream camper van. It's developed a plug-and-play ecosystem that combines the warmth and ambiance of a custom camper van with the flexibility of a modular kit that assembles more easily than an Erector set. In doing so, it eliminates the cold, industrial look common in modular kit builds in favor of a home-away-from-home feel that will make you want to experience full-time van life.
The photo below doesn't really look anything like a modular camper van, particularly not one built up from a piece-by-piece kit. Sure, that's partly because it's embellished with plants and precisely positioned bedding and accessories, but even without those additions, it simply surpasses the usual dreary metal-framed white/black/gray laminate look common on such builds.
To be fair to other builders, Van Jorn's kit isn't as cheap or simple as many camper kit options. Each build starts with what the company calls the base, an €11,300 (approx. US$11,825) prep package that includes the insulation, flooring, wall paneling, driver area prep, and a lithium-powered 12/220-V electrical package. So instead of installing modules against the cold sheet metal of a cargo van, Van Jorn buyers enjoy an actual camper interior from the get-go. Van Jorn can also do some of the other uncomfortable heavy lifting at the base stage, adding windows and up to three separate roof hatches for fans and skylights.
Most importantly, the base package brings eight tie-down rails that serve as the mounting base for the remainder of the build-out. Installed on the walls and ceiling, these rails allow Van Jorn's modules to be easily installed, rearranged and removed, giving owners the ability to adjust floor plans to their needs and return the van to cargo hauler.
With the base package installed, things get fun and flexible. Buyers can use Van Jorn's online configurator to arrange modules into different floor plans. Instead of large modules, like full-size kitchen blocks or sofas, the company focuses on smaller single-purpose modules to deliver more flexibility in placement and easier handling.
Specific module options include a sink module with water storage, a dual-burner gas stove module, a single bench seat, a fridge cabinet unit, and various overhead and floor-mounted cupboards. Buyers have the flexibility to, say, install the stove, sink and Corian-topped storage modules next to each other into a long kitchen block or split them up into a deconstructed cross-aisle kitchen space.
Perhaps the most impressive module, the full-height wet bathroom features a slide-out design. When not in use, it sits back against the wall, no deeper than a cupboard. When it's time to use the shower or toilet, the entire face pulls out to reveal the full wet bathroom.
Van Jorn offers nearly two dozen different modules in all; others include transverse and longitudinal beds, a two-seat front-facing bench with seat belts, and a foldaway dining table. Buyers who can't fit the entire expandable bathroom unit in can also choose to add an outdoor shower and slide-out portable toilet. A pop-up sleeper roof is another option.
Van Jorn ensures its modules have the look and feel of furnishings in a polished production or custom camper by using premium materials like FSC-certified wood and custom-cut aluminum, allowing customers to select their own colors. It also adds some curves in its construction, separating its modules from sharp-cornered boxes common in other kits. Available accessories like wall lamps add to the homey ambiance.
Of course, a Van Jorn camper van will set a buyer back more than a simpler camper-in-a-box kit or module set. You're already in the hole at least €11,300 before even adding any modules, and while the compact, single-purpose modules add to the system's flexibility, they also necessitate buying more individual modules to get the same functionality often available from one piece of camper furniture.
Van Jorn says that buyers can put together a complete, functional camper floor plan for roughly €25,000 to 30,000 ($26,175 to $31,400). They can have the package installed in their own new or used Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer or Citroën Jumper or purchase a turnkey van for roughly €75,000+ ($78,525+).
To put that 75K estimate to the test, we used Van Jorn's configurator to spec out our own floor plan, starting with the smallest 213-in (541-cm) Peugeot Boxer van. After adding the base package, plus rear door windows and a single front roof hatch, we dropped in the transverse rear bed, sink and water kitchen modules just inside the passenger-side sliding door, and the slide-out bathroom across from the kitchen. This filled out the small floor area pretty well, so we just added a diesel heater to take care of chilly nights. Price: €75,765 ($79,300).
We were happy to see our price fell quite close to Van Jorn's estimate, but then we realized we didn't have any organizational storage or interior dining whatsoever. So we added a pair of overhead cabinets above the bed and the fold-out table up front behind the cab seats, upping total price just under €77,850 ($81,500). Note that we skipped the fridge figuring we could just slide in a fridge box for half the price and also skipped accessories like the awning.
Beyond its online presence, Van Jorn has showroom at its HQ in Groningen and is regularly out showing its kit at camper shows in and outside the Netherlands. Its next stop will be the Camping & Caravan Fair in Utrecht this month, where it's up for a sustainability award.
Source: Van Jorn