Cargo Camper uses oversized pegboard to create ultra-versatile modular camper vans
Multipurpose camper vans with floor rails are pretty common, and a few, like those from VanDoIt, even extend the idea of floor rails to the walls and ceiling. But an Austrian company has taken the idea of the modular multipurpose camper van even further, using a pegboard-inspired interior for more plug-and-play flexibility. Instead of a bunch of camping modules mounted to the floor, Cargo Camper vans have kitchen equipment dangling off the walls, seats mounted to the wheel wells, and a wall-mounted bed-and-breakfast area that quickly folds away to clear out cargo space.
Thursday was only our first day on the floor of this year's CMT (Caravan, Motor & Touristik) show in Stuttgart, Germany, so we won't yet declare Cargo Camper vans the most versatile camper vans of the show, but we will be surprised if we find anything more versatile in the coming days. A product from Salzburg-based Autocom Rental & Trading GmbH, the CargoClips Transporter System that underpins each van consists of perforated plywood wall paneling and tool-free, hand-twist bolts.
The paneling looks much like the pegboard that dads everywhere hang tools from in garage and basement workshops, albeit of a more solid plywood construction and with larger oval holes. The holes are oval instead of round because the system relies upon a matching oval nut that twists sidewise to secure the screw against the panel. A company rep told us at the show that each hole can hold up to around 330 lb (150 kg).
The panels themselves are attached to the van walls and ceiling with special screws. They can be used to secure all kinds of things inside the van, from job-specific work hardware, to rows of seats for people-moving, to various gear carriers and load-securing solutions. Of course, the focus at CMT is camper van furniture and equipment.
Autocom's camper components are as distinctive as its mounting solution, starting with the B&B module, a versatile convertible dining set/sofa/bed that folds against the driver-side wall when not in use to clear out cargo space. This multifunctional module folds against the wall in one neat package but folds out into several different configurations: a dual-seat dining area, a sofa, a single bed and a double bed.
Moving over to the passenger side, instead of the typical stand-up kitchen block like virtually every other camper van on show at CMT, you'll find the kitchen equipment hovering over the van floor. The single-burner portable stove slides in a drawer in the wall-mounted cabinet unit, and just above that, the kitchen sink is essentially a swivel-out faucet on the face of the drawer holding the water canister. You can swap the stove out for a bucket to serve as the wash basin. The fridge is mounted to the van wall separately in back of the kitchen cabinets.
At CMT, Autocom is showing its camper hardware installed in two of the market's latest vans, the MAN TGE and the third-gen Mercedes Sprinter. The Cargo Camper Mountain 4x4 MAN TGE is the highlight of the booth thanks to its rugged 4WD build and pop-up roof with integrated 47 x 79-in (120 x 200-cm) bed. Inside, the van includes the B&B unit, the kitchen set-up described above, a stand-up 90-L refrigerator in back and a fold-away rear seat. The four-sleeper van also includes upper cabinets on the driver side.
The 208-in (527-cm) Cargo Camper City Mercedes Sprinter on show at CMT includes much the same interior layout, though it has a lighter shade of paneling and a cooler-style 40-L fridge box in place of the taller fridge. It also lacks the rear seat but includes CargoClips rear door paneling instead of the flush-face paneling on the MAN van. That door paneling is put to use holding an outdoor table and chair set.
The two vans also include different floor styles. The MAN Mountain 4x4 has floor rails, while the Mercedes City has a pegboard-style floor similar to, but distinct from, the wall paneling.
Included in Autocom's pictures, floor plans and pricing packages, but not on its CMT show vans, are bathroom modules that create an open bathroom with sink/shower and toilet just inside the rear double doors of each van.
The tool-free CargoClips hardware makes it easy to remove the camper modules and empty out the van into cargo form. From there, you can add in seats for up to eight people, toolboxes or equipment specific to your job needs, or use the paneling to secure cargo for the ride – Autocom creates a van that can become whatever you need, when you need it.
You could line your van with the CargoClips paneling and then pick and choose various modules, arranging them how you want. You could presumably even figure out ways of securing various equipment of your own, outside of Autocom's own catalog of offerings. But if you want to order things exactly how Autocom lays them out, the company offers both the Cargo Camper Mountain 4x4 and Cargo Camper City as full packages.
The Mountain 4x4 comes built on a 236-in (599 cm) MAN TGE 3.180 4x4 with 174-hp 2.0-liter engine, six-speed manual transmission, LED headlights, infotainment and nav system, and various driver-assistance features like rear-view camera, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control and hill start assist.
From there, Autocom adds the pop-up roof with bed, walnut wall and ceiling paneling, flooring, the B&B bed/dinette module, the kitchen equipment, the refrigerator module, LED interior lighting, a camper battery, the bathroom shower and toilet modules, and wall cabinets. The full van base price comes out to €79,900 (approx. US$91,000). If you go with a simpler 138-hp front-wheel drive van, it's €59,900 ($68,275).
The Sprinter City includes much the same conversion package but prices in well lower, thanks largely to the shorter, simpler 141-hp front-wheel drive base van. It starts at €49,900 ($56,850).
Autocom can leave equipment out on request or build the package up with a variety of options for the base vehicle and camper conversion package. Its manufacturing is handled by MGM Maschinenbau in Epfenbach, Germany.