Automotive

VanTourer experiments with world's flashiest mobile office camper van

VanTourer experiments with wor...
VanTourer brings a little flash to the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
VanTourer brings a little flash to the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
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VanTourer brings a little flash to the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
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VanTourer brings a little flash to the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
Not only more colorful, the Urban show van's interior replaces kitchen/dining area with mobile office
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Not only more colorful, the Urban show van's interior replaces kitchen/dining area with mobile office
The office unit presses up against the driver's seat more than the kitchen, but the passenger seat still swivels around to complete a three-person work space
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The office unit presses up against the driver's seat more than the kitchen, but the passenger seat still swivels around to complete a three-person work space
We didn't make it to the Caravan Salon this year, but we can't imagine there was a more brightly colored camper there
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We didn't make it to the Caravan Salon this year, but we can't imagine there was a more brightly colored camper there
A short video on VanTourer's website shows that the display is set on an electric lift system
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A short video on VanTourer's website shows that the display is set on an electric lift system
The interior gets some bright electric yellow-green to tie in with the ElectroLight exterior
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The interior gets some bright electric yellow-green to tie in with the ElectroLight exterior
Like the standard Urban, the ElectroLight Urban show van is built on a Mercedes Vito midsize van
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Like the standard Urban, the ElectroLight Urban show van is built on a Mercedes Vito midsize van
VanTourer worked with a German leather specialist on the special interior
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VanTourer worked with a German leather specialist on the special interior
Inside the VanTourer Urban ElectroLight show van
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Inside the VanTourer Urban ElectroLight show van
Inside the VanTourer Urban ElectroLight show van
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Inside the VanTourer Urban ElectroLight show van
Available on Comfort and Prime trims, the removable kitchen block connects to the exterior hookups to cook outdoors or stores away while the owner enjoys a freer MPV
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Available on Comfort and Prime trims, the removable kitchen block connects to the exterior hookups to cook outdoors or stores away while the owner enjoys a freer MPV
Dropping the top and getting ready to drive
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Dropping the top and getting ready to drive
Every VanTourer Urban model sleeps four on a combination of folding lower bed and pop-up roof bed
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Every VanTourer Urban model sleeps four on a combination of folding lower bed and pop-up roof bed
The ElectroLight-accented Urban bed ready for sleep
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The ElectroLight-accented Urban bed ready for sleep
VanTourer Urban ElectroLight with kitchen in place of office
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VanTourer Urban ElectroLight with kitchen in place of office
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Looking to attract a little attention to its flexible, Mercedes-Vito-based Urban camper van, Germany's VanTourer presented a special show camper at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon that wrapped up on Sunday. Undoubtedly the loudest, brightest van of the show, the compact van concept wears a blinding shade of neon paint and swaps its indoor/outdoor kitchen out for a digital-nomad-empowering mobile mini-office with power-lift display.

While small camper vans like the Urban often wear an array of paint colors, many of the motorized and towable campers at a show like Düsseldorf are dressed in plain, simple white. It's practical for keeping things cool during the summer months when most people are out RVing and camping, but it's absolutely predictable and boring.

VanTourer rebels against the predictable status quo by going in a direction quite opposite plain, boring white. Teaming with global paint and coatings specialist Axalta, it slaps on a shade of nuclear lemon-lime officially called "ElectroLight." It looks slightly more yellow to us, but others will likely see it as green, and we're all proven right because Axalta calls it green-yellow.

We didn't make it to the Caravan Salon this year, but we can't imagine there was a more brightly colored camper there
We didn't make it to the Caravan Salon this year, but we can't imagine there was a more brightly colored camper there

Interestingly enough, Axalta didn't just formulate ElectroLight, its official Global Automotive Color of 2021, as a way of attracting attention to any vehicle wearing it. The US-headquartered company explains that the ElectroLight paint is formulated to be more perceptible to LiDAR and radar sensors, helping to boost the efficacy of driver-assistance tech and car-to-car communications.

Axalta established a Mobility Coatings division earlier this year to explore the future of automotive coatings in a world of evolving mobility products, including autonomous and electric vehicles. The company has also worked with Mercedes-Benz on identifying coatings and materials that work best with specific radar frequencies.

To tie the Urban interior together with its eye-and-radar-popping electrified-limón exterior, VanTourer worked with German leather specialist Rühl in creating a leather interior with headrests, accents and stitching that match the vibrant paint color. The rear bench still folds down into a double bed, it just looks a little brighter when laid out – campers will probably want to top it with a particularly dark sheet or sleeping bag to prevent that brightness from keeping them awake.

The ElectroLight-accented Urban bed ready for sleep
The ElectroLight-accented Urban bed ready for sleep

The bright paint grabs the eye, but it's inside the dual sliding doors where VanTourer really makes the Urban camper concept a smart, multifunctional design perfect for 2021. Higher-tier Urban models come with a removable kitchen block that can be used indoors and outdoors or left at home for trips that demand a roomier minivan, not a camper van. VanTourer takes advantages of this flexibility in pulling the kitchen out of its show van and replacing it with a functional office module.

The office unit presses up against the driver's seat more than the kitchen, but the passenger seat still swivels around to complete a three-person work space
The office unit presses up against the driver's seat more than the kitchen, but the passenger seat still swivels around to complete a three-person work space

Like the kitchen, the office block includes an attachable table, in this case a dual-leaf wood table complete with inset organizers that takes on the role of desk for one to three people. The longer office block appears to prevent the driver seat from swiveling around, as it can with the kitchen block in place.

The office block itself includes an electrically lifted digital display that retracts away into the console body when not in use, a feature more commonly found on large motorhomes and luxury trailers than compact camper vans. During travel, a hinged lid drops over top the office console to keep it neat and protected.

A short video on VanTourer's website shows that the display is set on an electric lift system
A short video on VanTourer's website shows that the display is set on an electric lift system

Given that the office and kitchen can't be installed at the same time, the Urban office van concept probably isn't the right tool for full-time digital nomads, as they'd they'd likely want both a kitchen and an office space. However, it is a smart solution for those that find themselves in need of a quiet temporary place to work, perhaps because their newfound work-from-home schedule is too crowded or noisy. They can simply drop in the office module, drive to a quiet place and have a much more effective version of a "Do Not Disturb" office door sign. We think they'd want to lay off the Axalta ElectroLight, though, preventing constant interruptions from looky-loos with questions and thoughts about the ultra-bright look.

VanTourer doesn't mention any plans for bringing the office block to market, and we're not sure there's demand for such a system, even in the midst of work-from-everywhere pandemic uncertainty. Larger motorhomes and trailers that bring together both office solutions and fully equipped camper interiors seem like the more universal solution for all kinds of nomadic workers. And while a retractable display is cool, most folks could probably make do with a laptop and a traditional camper van table.

Available on Comfort and Prime trims, the removable kitchen block connects to the exterior hookups to cook outdoors or stores away while the owner enjoys a freer MPV
Available on Comfort and Prime trims, the removable kitchen block connects to the exterior hookups to cook outdoors or stores away while the owner enjoys a freer MPV

Standard Urban campers start at €55,900 (approx. US$66,000) for the Base model with fixed indoor kitchen and €62,400 (US$73,750) for the Comfort model with indoor/outdoor kitchen, heating, and added standard and optional automotive equipment. According to information put out by the Caravan Salon, the ElectroLight-splashed model with Rühl leather interior would set buyers back €75,000 (US$88,675), but that assumes VanTourer would ever find a buyer willing to pay extra for such an over-the-top camper van color.

For more information about the standard VanTourer Urban, check out our coverage of its 2020 Caravan Salon debut.

Source: VanTourer (German)

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