"Modular" has been the buzzword in camper design of late. Modular designs certainly aren't an all-new phenomenon, but they did seem particularly popular throughout 2015. Several of our favorite motorhomes and caravans of the year featured removable/rearrangeable modules, as did one of our favorite car-camping innovations. German camper manufacturer Hymer has its own ideas about modularity, and they look pretty convincing in a camper van design study developed with Mercedes-Benz.
Hymer's design utilizes floor rails to hold a series of adaptable camping and storage modules around the V-Class cabin. We've seen similar systems a number of times before, on vehicles like the Bett Mobil and Volkswagen Multivan Alltrack concept and modules like the BuddyBoxes, but Hymer's vision is a particularly svelte, versatile iteration of rail-mounted modular design housed in a pop-top V-Class.
The key to keeping things light and flexible is the use of compact, focused modules. Instead of the typical full kitchen block with stove, sink, countertop and refrigerator, the Hymer V-Class prototype features separate cooktop, icebox and sink blocks. That creates a bit more flexibility, both in the equipment the owner chooses to furnish the van with on a given trip and how he or she arranges that equipment. Every module has a hard-surfaced top, providing work and countertop space all around the interior.
While the modules are more compact and focused than other camper designs, some do play multiple roles. A multipurpose console holds cups and other items during transit, then expands into a dual-leaf table at camp. One of the long, thin storage consoles transforms into a full-height wardrobe with an integrated fabric pullout. Kitchen equipment can be mounted next to one of the sliding doors for indoor/outdoor use.
Hymer alludes to a full ecosystem of modules, allowing customers to personalize, grow and redesign their individual V-Class campers by purchasing and adding new units.
The two-seat camper van with multiple work and storage modules pictured in Hymer's photos certainly isn't ideal for everyone's version of a camping getaway, but Hymer's design allows the van to go from six-seat people hauler to fully equipped camper van, with multiple stops in between.
The modules can even be stacked, allowing occupants to gain more open space during travel. The photo at the top of the article shows two modules standing next to the camper, suggesting that they could also be used outside, for specific tasks like cooking or as benches or side tables.
A compact, super-flexible Type B motorhome seems like it could be a hit in a world full of folks striving to cut down on vehicle costs. Not that we'd expect it to come cheap, but the fact that you could customize your own camper van, use it as an everyday van throughout the year as well as a camper, and potentially keep the modules after retiring the van seems quite preferable to having an expensive, inflexible RV just sitting on driveway-adjacent concrete for most of the year.
When Hymer introduced this concept at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon earlier this year, it referred to it specifically as a "design study" and "prototype" and didn't mention any production plans. However, some of the language in its press release did hint at the possibility. We'll have to wait and see.
Take a look at the photos to get a better feel for how this V-Class would ride and live on the open road.