London taxi-maker, LEVC, envisions a semi-electric camper van
The much-admired LEVC that produces the Volvo-related black cabs, which proliferate on the streets of many cities worldwide, has already developed a light commercial version that Iain Robertson states lends itself to producing a camper.
In case you missed the irony, having gifted the world a pandemic, Chinese-owned LEVC now intends to satisfy COVID-enforced ‘staycationers’ with a coachbuilt camper-van costing from a projected £62,250 (plus VAT). Actually, the conversion is to be carried out by Barnsley-based Wellhouse Leisure, a company steeped in caravanettes, motorhomes and campervans since its formation around 18 years ago.
Prior to establishing Wellhouse, the company was responsible for importing in excess of 400 pre-owned Hymer motorhomes from Germany. The high quality of those products, which made the glassfibre-scented, flimsy efforts of other UK-based caravanette makers look decidedly ‘old hat’, was enough to convince the owner, David Elliott, of a future sense of direction for his firm. With Wellhouse off the ground, the importation of Japanese campers commenced in earnest, with Mr Elliott owing a lot of his success to spending time with his suppliers in Japan, a factor that aided quality by a considerable margin.
Today, his company is responsible for its work converting Hyundai i800 vans into campers for the UK importer and both Ford Motor Company and Toyota GB soon commissioned and authorised Wellhouse to produce its award-winning campervans. In fact, Ford has awarded its much-coveted QVM status to Wellhouse, in response to the high-quality conversions carried out by its team. Wellhouse has also been awarded the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVA) status for its fully crash tested conversions. It has earned ISO9001 and meets the National Caravan Council’s exacting safety standards.
Hot on the success of its VN5 taxi and van models, the world’s first electric campervan, e-Camper, has been optimised to offer both zero-emissions capability, combined with zero range anxiety, both of which make it the perfect vehicle by which to explore the great outdoors with the benefit of a significantly reduced environmental impact. It is worth highlighting that this platform is hybrid, the electric motor being supplemented by a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol-turbo engine that kicks in at higher speeds and saves the battery pack.
According to Joerg Hofmann, CEO of LEVC: “The campervan market is growing rapidly across the UK and Europe and, despite these vehicles being used for coastal and countryside adventures that often include national parks and protected areas, they are still powered by petrol or diesel engines. We perceive this as a major conflict, because we can perceive a shift in consumer attitudes, with a growing demand for greener mobility solutions to help to protect and improve air quality. Our new part-electric, zero-emissions capable e-Camper offers a perfect and timely solution and it is well-equipped with high quality features that can be tailored to meet a range of consumer requirements.”
The LEVC e-Camper will offer the ideal combination of flexibility and freedom, while also meeting the growing demand for independent, self-contained holidays, a trend that has been accelerated by both the Covid pandemic and the pursuit of more sustainable travel. LEVC has spotted a huge potential across the UK and Europe and, in partnership with Wellhouse Leisure, the first deliveries of e-Camper, with an indicative list price as stated above, will take place this autumn. Prospective customers can register their interest at levc.com/ecamper.
Based on well-tried hardware, LEVC’s new part-electric van, e-Camper, has the same pure EV range of around 60 miles, with a total flexible range of 304 miles, thanks to its petrol support engine and relatively small fuel tank. It is designed for those people that wish to both protect and enjoy the outdoor environment. Its zero emissions capability delivers a low carbon footprint and its innovative range extender technology allows owners to travel off the beaten track, where there is either no, or a strictly limited charging infrastructure, with complete peace of mind. At the same time, owners can operate in zero emissions mode, which is ideal for the campsite and also for powering the integrated electric kitchenette, without the need for fossil fuels.
Naturally, flexibility and space are key attributes and the new e-Camper includes sleeping accommodation for four, the aforementioned integrated electric kitchenette, a pop-up roof (that incorporates sleeping accommodation for two) and a central folding table. In addition, the campervan includes a second-row bench seat, which folds into the second double bed. Benefitting from a class-leading and tight turning circle (as stipulated by London Taxi requirements), e-Camper is also exceedingly easy to manoeuvre in any environment. Once the user sets up camp, the first-row seats can be swivelled through 180 degrees and the second row can be slid rearwards, to create enough room to dine and socialise around the deployable table. The pop-up roof creates standing room space for both the living and cooking areas and a single large sliding door makes access to and exit from the living area easy.
For outdoor leisure activities such as mountain biking and surfing, e-Camper will support a range of proprietary back-door racks. The innovative e-Camper also boasts the same distinctive exterior design, with styling cues inspired by LEVC’s TX electric taxi. A wide choice of paint colours will be available, complete with coloured bumpers and alloy wheels, to help it stand out even more from the conventional campervan crowd.
While the e-Camper will be the first to market as an electric-priority hybrid, Volkswagen has already produced a stunning one-off e-Bulli, based on a California sourced 1960s multi-window van that is a true EV. Inevitably, the German company’s investment in both the EV and campervan scenes is sure to lead into it producing the first all-electric camper, at an assuredly steep list price. While Wellhouse is justifiably proud of its high-quality upholstery and trim detailing, it still needs to go an extra mile to challenge that established by Volkswagen. Bringing the benefits of electric motoring to the motorhome scene is a market inevitability that is sure to be emulated by several key players in coming years. After all, the consumer has little, or no choice in the matter.