The way forward for Van Life is right here. And it is electrical!

Van-based travel has accelerated in recent years – and the pandemic set off full afterburners in the mainstream van life movement. But Diehard, who lives on the move, says he has discovered what’s next.

When your parents talk about buying and removing an empty van You know the bubble has peaked. And with COVID fears reaching every corner of America, virtually everyone wants a private hotel room on wheels.

What’s next for the van life industry? Electric vehicles. Right, lithium-ion units and battery packs are replacing fuel tanks and emissions – the trend toward truck life is making a pretty big change. And the largest companies in the industry are leaders.

So we looked at what’s next for electric vehicles in the US

Electric vans are coming

Electrified Vans Are Coming – 2020 was full of announcements from industrial vets and newcomers: Rivian, Canoo, Renault, Citroen, Opel, Peugeot, Ford, Lordstown, FCA, eBussy, Toyota, VW and Mercedes (to name a few).

If you couldn’t guess from this list, electric vehicles first debuted in Europe. Right now, you can’t go to a U.S. dealership and buy one. But trust us, the concept is solid.

Electric development is driven by both business and environmental concerns. Commercial sales, which make up a large proportion of van sales, are all about return on investment. Companies looking to save fuel are seeing the fast payback on electricity with stop-and-go deliveries in cities.

And have Europe’s density and strict emissions accelerated adoption Overseas.

electric van - iridium

Accordingly, the first electric motorhome There is a German model of Iridium on the market. This Class B motorhome has a range of 249 miles and is based on a Fiat Ducato chassis (Americans know it as the RAM ProMaster) for a cool $ 175,000.

If that looks a bit big for your garage, some outfitters have turned Nissan’s e-NV200 compact van into a micro-motorhome for two.

nve motorhome

This one, shown above by Sussex campervanshas a starting price north of $ 78,000. From the factory, the blade-based e-NV200 has a range of just 124 miles. If you add all of the weight of a full RV, you lose that very quickly, especially at highway speeds.

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Life cycle of the electric vehicle: costs, emissions

It’s crazy, but I’ve owned and driven electric vehicles (cars and motorcycles) for the past decade. And I learned more than a few things along the way.

If you’re looking to save the planet, life in electrified vans probably isn’t going to make the difference you hope for. It’s true that your tailpipe emissions are zero, but you also need to consider the full life cycle costs of the batteries and electric powertrain. Really, it all depends on how (and how far) you go.

The science is clear: Electric cars are better for the environmenteven if you charge them from coal power. But cars and RVs are different use cases. The average RV only moves 4,500 miles a year. At this rate, the energy and materials used to make the battery will not be balanced before the batteries deteriorate with age. With this low mileage, it is almost impossible to recoup the fuel costs you save by using electricity.

However, if your motorhome acts as a second vehicle, this can lead to climate protection. Internal combustion engines get the most dirty in the first few minutes of warming up. Replacing small trips with your electric van could pay off. Also, if you’re going all day, you might be able to save enough miles and fuel to make the numbers work.


“Range fear”

Range is the obvious hurdle to electric vehicle life and is quickly affected by the addition of weight and accessories such as awnings, racks, and toys. Most of the things that add to the camping experience will decrease your autonomy and make you stop at any charger you can find.

Hearing “Have we been charged yet?” Sitting in a hot parking lot is just a waste of your hard-earned vacation days.

Fear of range is real. As an early EV user, I had problems when the weather turned cold, a road was closed, or a charger was out of order. You don’t want to get stuck in your van in a blizzard with your in-laws in the background on Thanksgiving (from experience).

You’ll need a buffer of at least 20% – more if you’re out of service in the Boonies or on the 200 mile Death Road. So for a range of 125 miles you should only expect 90-100 miles to be on the safe side.

The good news, however, is that technology is advancing rapidly and batteries are getting better every year. An e-van can make sense sooner than you think. For the US market, I expect the first conversions to be rated for more than 200 miles (at this point your child will need a toilet break anyway!).

Solar is improving too, but even the largest array that could fit in your van would only trickle a large EV battery.

Tesla Camp

Another plus against the fear of range: Most motorhome parks are already equipped with 240 V. So quick recharging in camp is more practical than you might think. (And several Gas station chains also make the switch.)

Potential energy

It makes a lot of sense to travel with a huge power bank as most delivery truck deliveries involve adding battery banks anyway. The batteries of one of these electric vehicles could power your remote office on wheels for a month if you stay in position. You no longer need a separate “house battery” if you can use the battery of your electric vehicle for all of your electronic charging processes.

Other synergies are beneficial for the e-van. The electric vehicle’s air conditioning is operated directly by your battery and can be used when the vehicle is switched off. Therefore, you may not need a separate air conditioning or heating system.

Tesla actually has a “Storage mode“This allows you to run the air conditioning all night when you want to sleep in your Model X. We can’t wait to see what camper tricks await with the arrival of the model CybertruckAs you know, Musk doesn’t let companies like Rivian steal all of their overland electric truck press.


eHWYRV hookups help while you’re parked, but when you’re out and about, charging infrastructure is everything. Bigger batteries are like bigger gas tanks – they take longer to fill. The best DC level 3 chargers can charge you 80% in about an hour. Tesla compressors are faster but only work with Tesla vehicles.

The universal charging infrastructure will catch up with Tesla in the coming years, but the The latest e-charging sites could fill a van in 20 to 30 minutes.

Few pilot stations have this technology and most vehicles are not equipped for such a high charge rate. If you want to leave tomorrow, the west coast is the only area in the country with enough Level 3 stations to keep you juicing in the long run – at least in reasonable periods for general travel.

Electric Van Early Adopters

A good use case for electric RVs could be an electric van rental fleet. VW’s hippie favorite The California RV is about to be reborn as an electric vehicle and could make a perfect west coast rental if it ever comes to US manufacturing

E-vans will hit the US market this year and the race for delivery is tight. We’re putting money into landing the Ford E-Transit on dealer lots first – although Rivian may be selling more chassis directly to Amazon by then. Mercedes is waiting until 2023, and Fiat-Chrysler is shy of the RAM ProMaster chassis being electrified.

When or when

With battery prices falling and charging infrastructure growing, it may just be a question of when your next motorhome will run on electricity. But it will take many years for e-vans to become the norm. Remember, tailpipe emissions aren’t the whole story – look at the total life cycle cost of your vehicle.

electric van

A great option if you’re not ready to buy or live in your van all day is to rent an e-van on a website such as GoCamp or Outdoors. The more we use existing vehicles, the fewer vehicles we have to produce and the fewer emissions we generate.

The path to conscientious living in a van will be different for everyone, but we all look forward to exploring the great outdoors and leaving a small footprint in the process.

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