Mercedes-Benz is now working to expand its electric vehicle family into its Marco Polo camper van line. It opened 2022 with an upfitted EQV camper van, and it closes out the year with the all-new Concept EQT Marco Polo. The pop-up concept mini-camper seats and sleeps four people, offers a full indoor dining lounge, prepares meals on a double-stove indoor/outdoor galley space, and switches back to an everyday MPV in minutes. It’s a unique, capable van that will soon give eco-conscious adventurers a way to gallivant on pure electric power and enjoy a cozy mountain micro-home on each stop along the way.
Mercedes’ Friday reveal wasn’t only for the Concept EQT Marco Polo but also for the production EQT van at large, first previewed by the Concept EQT back in 2021. The electric compact van will be available at launch with a 90-kW (121-hp) front-axle motor and 45-kWh battery pack for a base price of €49,000 (approx. US$51,625). Mercedes estimates WLTP range at 175 miles (282 km) and says drivers will be able to charge the battery from 10 to 80 percent in as little as 38 minutes using a DC fast charger.
The Concept EQT Marco Polo shows that the new EQT will definitely be comfortable in the role of modular camper/everyday van. Mercedes makes clear from the get-go that the concept is a preview of a camper van currently under development and headed to series production. It plans to introduce the production version in the second half of 2023, which sounds like a Düsseldorf Caravan Salon debut if we’ve ever heard one.
The Marco Polo concept is based on an upcoming long-wheelbase EQT variant. Mercedes doesn’t list dimensions for the long-wheelbase van, which will be officially introduced in 2023, but specs the regular-wheelbase EQT at 450 cm long by 186 cm wide by 182 cm high (177 x 73 x 72 in). It boosts the concept van’s height with a pop-up roof that opens up standing head room in the living area of the camper. The roof also houses a 197 x 97-cm (77.5 x 38-in) disc-spring bed ready to sleep one or two people.
Down below, Mercedes configures a clever camper layout that makes the most of the small space. The dining area gets pushed to the rear of the van, starting with a two-seat driver-side longitudinal bench across from a fold-out table with electrically adjustable height. A second two-seat bench sits transversely behind the front passenger seat, creating a disconnected L-shaped dining layout.
The interior portion of the split kitchen concept sits directly behind the driver’s seat, offering a small sink with 12-L fresh and waste water tanks and a 16-L fridge box. The single-spot induction cooktop is built into a drawer below the driver-side bench, leaving a small open space behind the sink when closed, perhaps for entry and exit from the driver-side sliding door.
Not wanting hypothetical EQT Marco Polo campers to go without the ol’ reliable standard of two cooking burners, Mercedes augments the induction cooker with a separate portable gas single-burner stove that stores on an exterior slide-out on the rear end of the dining bench. It can be used on its own as an outdoor tailgate cooking option or as an extra burner in conjunction with the indoor induction cooktop — assuming there’s a pair of cooks or one cook who doesn’t mind shuffling back and forth.
When we first saw the Concept EQT Marco Polo’s layout, we thought Mercedes had eliminated the rear passenger seats to make room for its cozy camper lounge. But the passenger-side dining cushions are actually affixed to the backs of the folding rear seats. Fold them up into travel position and the Concept Marco Polo is able to drive four people to camp.
The EQT Marco Polo also sleeps four people — lower the rear table, add a few cushions, and you get a larger second double bed with 200 x 115-cm (79 x 45-in) dimensions. A black-out window tinting system eliminates the need for curtains, darkening the rear windows at the push of a button.
Taking a camping trip in an EQT Marco Polo would undoubtedly require separating the things you could do without from the must-haves, but Mercedes does add as much storage space as it can. In addition to keeping the load aisle clear at the rear, it installs a pot/pan drawer below the induction cooktop and integrates further storage under the bench seats and inside the dining table base.
Unlike the larger V-Class Marco Polo camper van, the Concept Marco Polo boasts a modular design with fully removable camper equipment. Mercedes says two people can pull out the camper modules and return the EQT to everyday MPV form in roughly five minutes. The concept measures under 2 m (6.6 feet) tall even with the pop-up roof, making it readily garageable. If the production version lets owners swap extra seats in, it will be a very capable small passenger van/mini-camper.
Adding to the van’s modularity is a portable battery pack that serves as the onboard leisure battery and can be removed from under the seat. It runs electrical equipment around the camper and can be charged using the roof-mounted solar panel or an electrical outlet outside the vehicle.
For those who don’t need a pop-up roof or prefer a short-wheelbase EQT, Mercedes will offer a simpler EQT Marco Polo camper option even earlier. The Marco Polo Module is a fully removable camper-in-a-box kit with fold-out bed and available tailgate kitchen that will be available on both the ICE T-Class and the electric EQT. The Module was first previewed at this year’s Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, and we looked at it more closely last month. Mercedes has not announced pricing but stresses the Marco Polo Module will be available for order in the near future.
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