Inspired by the bright-yellow postal buses that have long served as a vital connection to some of Switzerland’s hardest-to-reach peaks and valleys, Swiss camper van specialist Yellowcamper injects the resolute, innovative spirit of the country’s uniquely diverse transportation system into each RV it offers, none more so than the new Mercedes-Benz EQV Camper. Billed as the country’s first electric camper van, the versatile multipurpose RV carries people and cargo, quickly transforming from a four-person camper van to an eight-person passenger van to an open cargo van.
Along with the likes of precisely punctual trains and cable and cog systems that climb seemingly impassable mountain slopes, the bright-yellow PostBus is an iconic symbol of Swiss travel. Many times it’s the only way to travel, a critical transit link between a starting point and an Alpine destination unreachable by other public means. This instantly recognizable carrier of parcel and passenger served as a foundation for Yellowcamper in 2016, when the company began building camper vans out of decommissioned (but still bright yellow) Swiss Post vans in the capital city of Bern.
Yellowcamper has since grown its business out to converting various van models, renting campers and creating special projects for both recreational and business customers, but the “Post” yellow remains a staple of its designs. Sometimes that yellow brightens up the removable camper furnishings, other times it adds a splash of vibrance to an otherwise neutral camper van exterior.
It’s a generous splash of yellow against a white van that helps to identify the EQV Camper as a Yellowcamper, but the particular yellow stripes and letters take on a double meaning, symbolizing both Yellowcamper’s postal roots and its electrified future. The electric cord graphics dangling lazily down the van sides drive the latter point home.
Yellowcamper originally built the EQV Camper as a customer commission in partnership with nearby Mercedes-Benz vehicle dealership Lorenz Commercial Vehicles. It debuted the van a year ago, calling it the first electric camper van in Switzerland. As far as we’ve seen, it’s also the first EQV camper van in Europe or anywhere else, beating out offerings from both Mercedes-Benz itself and Dutch shop Tonke.
Now based in Burdorf outside of Bern, Yellowcamper started with the longer-range Mercedes EQV 300 and installed a fairly simple, lightweight and removable camper solution. The removable interior layout allows EQV Camper owners to easily dump the unneeded weight of camper furnishings and enjoy a zero-emissions everyday MPV with a Mercedes-estimated range up to 226 miles (363 km).
The basis of the conversion is a removable kit from Austrian manufacturer SoulBoxx. The tailgate-accessed box has drawers and compartments for the dual-burner Primus Kinja portable gas stove, 31-L Dometic compressor fridge, electric pump-driven pull-out water sprayer, sink basin, and dual 10-L water tanks. The sleeping platform incorporates the top of the kitchen box, extending out over the folded rear seats to support a 75 x 51-in (190 x 130-cm) mattress.
Yellowcamper also carves out a pop-up roof that houses a 48 x 75-in (123 x 190-cm) double bed so the EQV can sleep four people and seat them all on the swivel cab seats and two individual rear seats. A floor rail-mounted console with pop-out table creates an interior dining area between the four seats.
The pop-up roof stays fixed in place, but owners can remove the SoulBoxx camper kit and install seats for up to eight people overall or remove seats and use the van as an empty cargo hauler.
Yellowcamper goes beyond just basic automaker estimates to paint a clearer picture of the EQV Camper’s range, saying that its tester calculated a real-world range of at least 193 miles (310 km) when driving with single passenger. Yellowcamper further estimates that the EQV camper loses about a quarter of its total range in cold weather, depending upon temperature and heater setting, so distance per charge would fall to a range of roughly 145 to 170 miles (233 to 274 km) in winter weather.
Range and battery usage will vary by driver, road and weather conditions, payload, camping equipment plugged in and more, but Yellowcamper’s figures at least provide something of a starting point for how using the EQV as a camper might affect available range from the 90-kWh battery pack.
Mercedes-Benz says that the EQV can fast-charge from 10 to 80% in 40 minutes, and Yellowcamper mentions a 45-minute 10-to-90% charge. Yellowcamper is working with the Swiss Camping and Caravanning Association (SCCV) to create a nationwide map of campsites with EV chargers or powerful electrical supplies that can handle the load.
Those range and charge figures still don’t look quite attractive enough to convert the average recreational RVer or full-time van lifer, but we do like the flexible layout that allows the EQV Camper to be used as an everyday family car and utility van with holiday camping capability baked in. That seems like a critical puzzle piece necessary to convince people to slowly convert to electric RVing before EV battery ranges improve, whether we’re talking about an electric camper van or an electric camper SUV.
The Yellowcamper EQV Camper is available through Lorenz Mercedes for a price of CHF107,689 (approx. US$113,100) after VAT.
Source: Yellowcamper (German)
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