Modular camper van with pop-out bathroom switches to everyday Sprinter
German camper conversion module specialist VanEssa — innovator of the coolest, little Oktoberfest-grade tailgating set-up we've ever seen — is thinking of going big. Stepping up from small and midsize van kits, the company explores the possibility of full-size conversions for the likes of the Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter. To highlight what that might look like, it's rolled out a unique adventure van concept that has a fully modular interior with a triple kitchen, plenty of all-weather gear storage, a hybrid transverse/longitudinal bed, and a removable wet bathroom that lets owners switch camper back to seven-seat extended-family shuttle.
VanEssa's Sprinter camper van is more of a living, evolving exhibit than a finalized, road-ready camper van solution. As such, it packs more kitchen space than any van life couple or family could possibly need. That starts with a removable kitchen pod inside the sliding door, packing the usual dual-burner stove, sink and slide-out indoor/outdoor-access fridge.
On the outside of the kitchen block, a full-height cabinet door drops down to work as a countertop, bringing with it a slim-profile two-burner Primus camping stove and plenty of open space for food prep. This workspace works hand in hand with the sliding fridge, drawers above it and shelved pantry inside the cabinet, providing a simple solution for those that prefer to cook under the blue sky.
That indoor/outdoor kitchen would be more than enough for the average camper van owner, but VanEssa also shows another option. The under-bed passenger side of the load area houses a full slide-out kitchen with the same style of dual-burner stove, sink with fold-down faucet and fridge. The slide also has a full array of storage drawers, and the large drawer above the kitchen provides extra storage.
On the driver side of the load area, a neatly organized gear garage includes a flat slide designed to accommodate two mountain bikes plus other outdoor gear. There's also sidewall shelving for holding camping chairs, folding tables, skis or other long, thin items.
The bed up above the rear garage benefits from an innovative hybrid design. Instead of running either across or lengthwise, it does both. The 71 x 58-in (180 x 148 cm) transverse bed sleeps two people. For more legroom, two end cushions add on to spin the bed into a 79 x 71-in (200 x 180-cm) longitudinal double, albeit with a central cutout in the middle of the inside end.
Another unique element of the build, the wet bathroom is both fully enclosed and fully removable. It's common to see modular camper vans, like the VanDoIt Liv or Pössl Vanster, switch between everyday and camping holiday modes, but it's much less common for such modular vans to include any type of indoor bathroom, let alone a fully enclosed wet room. VanEssa's bathroom cell attaches and removes via the floor rail system that holds the other furniture in place, allowing the owner to pull out all camper equipment, swap in seats and create a passenger van for seven people. Inside, the bathroom includes a sink with pull-out faucet/shower head and a slide-out separating toilet that hides away in a side cabinet.
Mealtime takes place in the front of the VanEssa Sprinter. The swivel driver cab seats accommodate the two occupants, and the small table mounted to the frontside of the bathroom expands out toward the passenger side to serve both.
Proving that its Sprinter is an evolving design, VanEssa made some alterations between January and February. It replaced the bench between the bathroom and gear garage with a taller storage cabinet that houses the toilet and holds the bed-extension cushion on top. The company also cleaned up the bathroom design in that time, adding the toilet slide-out, finishing the window, and replacing the rough corner sink pictured below with a natural wood sink basin.
When we first saw it at the CMT 2020 show, the Sprinter also had bare van walls and windows, with no added insulation or interior paneling. But as company owner Hubert Vollert explains in a video interview, the naked sidewalls proved insufficient to hold up to the cold Alpine air of an Austrian ski trip. Vollert and team attached thick wood wall and door paneling before showing the van again at the F.re.e. Munich travel and leisure show. On the downside, the wood covers the rear windows completely, but on the upside, it provides insulation while adding a rustic, ski lodge-like ambiance.
VanEssa is gauging reaction to its Sprinter module designs and has yet to begin selling any of the individual components. In the meantime, it urges interested parties to contact it about customization possibilities for the Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter. As a loose reference, individual kitchen and sleeping modules for smaller vans like the VW Multivan and Mercedes V-Class range between €1,000 and 2,000 (approx. US$1,075 to 2,150).
Source: VanEssa (German)
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