London’s taxi maker has turned a van into an electric camper RV for $85,000

rendering of the e-Camper with its pop-top roof next to surfboarders.
Renderings of the e-Camper.

  • An electric taxi, van, and shuttle maker has unveiled its latest project: an electric camper van.
  • London Electric Vehicle Company predicts the e-Camper has “huge potential across the UK and Europe.”
  • The company will begin delivering its roughly $85,350 van in Q4 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Camper van enthusiasts and environmentalists have found their match: the “world’s first electric campervan,” according to its maker London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC).

LEVC specializes in electric vans, shuttles, and taxis, including the ones you can spot around London. Now, the company is expanding its electric automotive capabilities by venturing into the electric RV space.

Meet the roughly $85,350 e-Camper, an electric camper van for those who “want to both protect and enjoy the outdoor environment,” according to a press release.

“The campervan market is growing rapidly and, despite these vehicles being used for coastal and countryside adventures which often include national parks and protected areas, they are still powered by petrol or diesel engines,” Joerg Hofmann, CEO of LEVC, said in the press release. “This is a major conflict; we can see a shift in consumer attitudes, with demand for greener mobility solutions to help to protect and improve air quality.”

The tiny home on wheels will be built on LEVC’s VN5 electric van, which has an electric range of 60 miles, and a hybrid range of 304 miles with help from a 1.3-liter gasoline engine, Rachel Cormack reported for Robb Report. But if you’re only interested in zero-emissions camping trips, you’ll have to rely on the van’s 31-kilowatt-hour battery.

rendering of the interior of the e-Camper with seating and a kitchen
Renderings of the e-Camper.

The tiny home on wheels can sleep four people with the help of its pop-top roof, which creates additional sleeping and standing room inside the van. Besides the pop-top, like other camper vans, the second row of seats can transform into an additional double bed.

The first row of seats can’t turn into a slumber space, but it can swivel 180-degrees. This – when used in conjunction with the dining table and another row of seats – creates a small living and dining room within the camper van.

There’s also an electric kitchen for meals on the road and storage racks to hold onto outdoor toys, such as surfboards and bicycles.

rendering of the e-Camper with its pop-top roof next to bicyclists
Renderings of the e-Camper.

So far, the company predicts “huge potential across the UK and Europe,” and will begin delivering its electric campers in Q4 2021.

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Italian luxury RV maker is launching a camper van to the US – see inside the ‘innovative’ van that already has a 500-order waitlist

The Oasi 540 on the road
The Oasi 540.

  • European RV and camper van maker Wingamm is bringing one of its popular compact models to the US.
  • The Oasi 540 camper van’s price will range between $135,000 to $145,000 upon its official US debut in 2022.
  • Last month, its distributor was receiving an email or call inquiry from a customer every minute.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
RV and camper van makers have seen extraordinary sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as other travel options were seen as unsafe.

The Oasi 540 parked in a city
The Oasi 540.

Now, Wingamm, an Italian luxury RV maker, is looking to capitalize on this trend by bringing its camper van model to the US …

The Oasi 540 on the road
The Oasi 540.

… and the compact motorhome is already booming in popularity ahead of its debut.

a storage unit in the Oasi 540
The Oasi 540’s storage unit.

Meet Wingamm’s Oasi 540, one of “Europe’s most sought after motorhomes,” according to the press release.

a person standing outside the Wingamm Oasi 540
The Wingamm Oasi 540.

“It has taken persistence and innovation from our team of engineers and consultants in both Italy and the US to create a Wingamm Oasi 540 for the US market,” Lorena Turri, CEO of Wingamm, said in the press release.

The Oasi 540's kitchen with bread on the counter and several drawers open
The Oasi 540’s kitchen.

The Oasi 540’s popularity isn’t just a European trend.

an empty storage unit
One of the storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

For the past three or four years. Wingamm has been receiving inquiries from US-based customers interested in the compact RV, Turri told Insider.

a toilet, a shower, a sink, and storage units inside the Oasi 540's bathroom
The Oasi 540’s bathroom

Wingamm’s RVs are currently available in 15 European and Asian countries, but the US market has always been a goal for the company.

a person about to open the Wingamm Oasi 540
The Wingamm Oasi 540.

Upon its arrival to the states, the camper van will be distributed by TM Motorhome Sales.

the bed pulled down
The bed in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Sales will begin in Los Angeles and New Jersey in 2022 before a full nationwide rollout in 2023, Tony Diamond, co-owner of TM Motorhome Sales, told Insider.

a person opening the vanity of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The Wingamm Oasi 540’s bathroom

Luckily for the two companies, demand is already high ahead of its debut, in part because of media coverage in early June, Diamond said, citing Gear Patrol’s article about the camper van.

exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540.

After the Gear Patrol article was published on June 3, the company began receiving “nonstop” calls and emails about the van (we’re talking an inquiry every minute).

a person moving the table in the Wingamm Oasi 540
The swivel table in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

“We didn’t know what was going on,” Diamond said. “There was a stream of emails coming in and we were like, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on here?’ The phone was just ringing, ringing, ringing, and it was a magical moment because we’ve believed in this.”

a person putting items in the storage unit
One of the storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Demand has since tapered off a bit, but Diamond says the team is still receiving an email or call about the van every roughly 20 minutes.

a hand over the exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540.

And all of this happened despite not having any marketing campaigns in the US yet, according to Turri.

water bottles in a storage unit
A storage unit in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

“[The US] is a huge market that could be immediately bigger than our European market because we are receiving many inquiries,” Turri said.

Oasi 540's pull down bed under a skylight next to storage units
The Oasi 540’s pull down bed.

The company now has a waitlist of over 550 customers, according to the press release.

a person standing in the kitchen of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The kitchen in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Over 30 RV dealers, including “some of the biggest dealers around the country,” have also contacted TM Motorhome Sales about becoming a dealer, according to Diamond.

a person pulling down the bed from the roof
Pulling down the bed of the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the features that have made the Oasi 540 so successful.

close up of the cabinets
The overhead cabinets in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The camper van is based on a Promaster, but it has its own custom one-piece monocoque fiberglass shell.

A close up of the exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540.
The Wingamm Oasi 540.

This shell prevents leaks, improves sound insulation, and allows for a customizable floor plan.

a person holding a sample of the body shell.
A cross section of the monocoque shell used in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

RV makers like Thor, Winnebago, and Airstream often build camper vans and floor plans within existing Ford Transit, Ram Promaster, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans. But according to Diamond, this method is “very limited.”

exterior storage units on the Oasi 540
The Oasi 540’s exterior storage unit.

“Because of the custom fiberglass monocoque shell, Wingamm is basically able to design whatever floor plan it wants,” Diamond said.

a person in the living room of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The living room in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The camper is 17 feet, 9 inches long, which should fit in most standard US parking spots.

exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540
The exterior of the Wingamm Oasi 540.

This size means the van can operate in both national parks and cities.

a close up of the shift
The Wingamm Oasi 540.

Diamond calls the camper van an “alternative to an apartment,” and it’s easy to see why given all of its home-like amenities.

empty storage unit outside the van
One of the exterior storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Despite being pint-sized, the tiny home on wheels still has several key rooms, including a bedroom, bathroom, closets, and kitchen.

toilet and sink in the Wingamm Oasi 540
The toilet and sink in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The kitchen and living room are towards the front of the van, while the bathroom and additional closet storage fall towards the back.

The Oasi 540's kitchen with bread on the counter
The Oasi 540’s kitchen.

If you’re wondering where the bedroom is, well, it’s in the ceiling.

Oasi 540's pull down bed under a skylight next to storage units
The Oasi 540’s pull down bed.

Unlike most camper vans that have a pop-top bed or a dedicated bedroom space, Oasi 540’s bed is stored in the ceiling.

the bed pulled down in the Wingamm Oasi 540.
The bed pulled down in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The memory foam bed can then be pulled down over the driver’s area, living room, and kitchen when it’s time for a cat nap or a night’s sleep.

Oasi 540's kitchen and living room with the drivers area and windows looking out onto a road
The Oasi 540’s kitchen and living room.

Hiding the bed in the wall makes space for a larger kitchen, bathroom, and living room.

the kitchen countertop and a person standing next to it
The kitchen in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The living and dining room is equipped with an L-shaped seating system and a movable oval-shaped table, perfect for dining or remote work.

Oasi 540's kitchen and living room with the drivers area and windows looking out onto a road
The Oasi 540’s kitchen and living room.

These seats, plus the swivel driver and passenger seats, can accommodate up to six guests, according to a YouTube video tour of the Oasi 540.

Oasi 540's kitchen and living room with the drivers area and windows looking out onto a road
The Oasi 540’s kitchen and living room.

Source: YouTube

The seating bench can also be used as an additional sleeping space to accompany the pull-down bed.

a storage unit in the Wingamm Oasi 540
The Wingamm Oasi 540’s storage unit.

This, plus the bed, can sleep three, or possibly four people.

close up of an outlet.
An outlet in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Source: Wingamm

Now, onto the kitchen, which is right across from the living room.

a close up of the two burner stovetop
The stovetop in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The kitchen has a two-burner gas stove, a countertop, several soft-close cabinets …

The Oasi 540's kitchen with bread on the counter and several drawers open
The Oasi 540’s kitchen.

… a sink with a cutting board cover, and a refrigerator-freezer.

a person about to open the fridge in the Wingamm Oasi 540.
The refrigerator freezer in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

If you think the kitchen seems home-like, wait until you see the bathroom. Diamond compares the van’s bathroom to that of a hotel room bathroom (but smaller, of course).

a toilet, a shower, a sink, and storage units inside the Oasi 540's bathroom
The Oasi 540’s bathroom

There’s a shower, sink, ceramic toilet, vanity, and cabinets, all within the compact space.

a person looking in the bathroom vanity
The bathroom vanity in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The van also uses a cassette sewage structure that breaks down all of the unwanted sewage. The suitcase-like cassette can then be removed from the van and emptied into a toilet at any rest stop or establishment.

a person moving the cassette system
The cassette.

Worried about wintertime? The heated floors will help keep the already insulated camper even warmer.

One of the exterior storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540
One of the storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Besides the closet and cabinets, there are also storage spaces hidden around the exterior of the van, including a storage unit that’s accessible from the inside of the van, according to the YouTube video tour.

an open empty storage unit
One of the storage units in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Source: YouTube

When you need to brighten up the tiny home on wheels during a remote workday, just use the overhead LED lights, which are both dimmable and color-changing.

a person looking up at the overhead lights
The overhead lights in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

“We look at the Wingamm Oasi 540 as being to other Class B motorhomes as what the iPhone was to the flip phone, or what Peloton was to Nordic track, or what Tesla is to other electric vehicles,” Diamond said. “This is truly an innovative motorhome in so many ways … from its size to the sewage system, to the bathroom, to the bed.”

a closeup of the showerhead
The shower head in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Wingamm plans to produce about 150 to 200 camper vans for its debut US season. This number of builds will grow to about 500 vehicles per season in the future, according to Turri.

a man opening the closets in the Wingamm Oasi 540
The closet in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

“I suppose we’ll have more demand than products for the first season,” Turri said.

a hand by the sink in the bathroom
The sink in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

To address this, the company is already looking to grow production by investing in a new manufacturing plant.

a person swiveling the table
The swivel table in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

The vans are currently being built in Italy, but Wingamm’s next steps could include moving production to the US depending on the success of the camper van’s overseas introduction.

The Oasi 540's kitchen with bread on the counter
The Oasi 540’s kitchen.

To market the vehicle upon its US debut, Wingamm and TM Motorhome Sales will display the Oasi 540 at malls across the US, which could help attract customers that are new to the RV world.

a rendering of the Oasi 540 at a mall.
A rendering of the Oasi 540 at a mall.

The final price isn’t set yet, but Turri estimates the camper van – with all of its sleek luxuries, multipurpose spaces, and compact size – could range between $135,000 to $145,000

close up of the Wingamm logo
Wingamm’s fabrics.

Turri and Diamond believe that the rise in big city living costs, #VanLife, remote work, and “experiential living” makes the Oasi 540 “an enticing value proposition,” according to the press release.

close up of an open refrigerator
The refrigerator in the Wingamm Oasi 540.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airstream just unveiled a new $214,000 off-road camper van built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – see inside the rugged RV

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach
  • Airstream has unveiled its latest camper van: the $213,850 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach.
  • The camper – which has a semi-customizable layout – sits on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis.
  • RV travel has remained popular throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Airstream, a popular RV maker known for its sleek silver tiny homes on wheels, has unveiled its latest build: a $213,850 camper van.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has benefited the RV and camper van industry.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Many makers, including Airstream’s parent company Thor Industries, saw a boost in sales and popularity throughout 2020 and into 2021.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Source: Insider (1) (2)

Despite vaccination rates climbing and an increase in flight bookings and “revenge vacations,” RV deliveries have still remained strong.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

More wholesale RVs will be shipped in 2021 than ever before, according to data from the RV Industry Association.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Source: RVIA

And according to the association’s May survey of 1,276 leisure travelers, 56 million people in the US plan on RVing this summer.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Source: RVIA

“RVing has been cemented as a mainstream travel option that is here to stay,” Craig Kirby, president and CEO of the RV Industry Association, said in a press release.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Source: RVIA

It seems like there’s no better time to unveil a brand new camper van.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Like many luxury US camper vans, the new Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach sits on a Mercedes-Benz 3500 Sprinter chassis.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Airstream has upgraded the Sprinter to be off-road and off-grid capable.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

There’s even enough room to sit six people and sleep two.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Like many camper vans, several features in the “home” can be converted into different rooms, creating a multi-purpose living space.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The camper van is divided into several areas: a kitchen and bathroom in the front half of the van …

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

… and a joint living room and bedroom area towards the rear.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The bathroom includes amenities found in every typical non-moving home, such as a towel rack, mirror, toilet, and shower curtain.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The kitchen space also has the classics: a sink, two-burner stovetop, microwave, and refrigerator-freezer.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

There are also drawers and cabinets to store the essential food goods needed for life on the road.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Now onto the rear of the 2022 Interstate 24X, which has a convertible living room and bedroom.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

#VanLifers can either convert the living room’s seating benches into a twin bed …

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

A single bigger bed …

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

… or a bed that runs the width of the van, which still makes space for part of the living room setup.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Even the dining table’s location is customizable.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

There are four table mounts throughout the van, specifically two in the rear by the living and bedroom, one towards the front to be used with the driver’s seat …

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

… and one outside the front door.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

This means digital nomads in need of some fresh air can work from outside the van.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

There’s even an awning with an LED light for some shaded outdoor relaxation.

Interstate 24X

Remote workers can also use the power systems, USB ports, and interior LED lights to help power the workday.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The key to an organized tiny home on wheels, digital nomad run or not, is ample storage.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Luckily, the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X has storage units tucked throughout the unit.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

This includes the L-tracks on the camper’s walls, ceiling, and floor …

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

… overhead storage …

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

… and under-bench storage.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The van can even hold onto gear like kayaks and bikes, and tow toys up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Airstream also applied a protective coating throughout sections of the four-by-four’s exterior to help prevent scratches.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

This is important for the off-the-beaten-path goers looking to take advantage of the van’s all-terrain tires.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

The Interstate 24X also comes equipped with a furnace and hot water heater for colder treks.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

But for hot summer afternoons, use the Interstate 24X’s air conditioner.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

And if it’s too warm or bright inside the van during the day, just use the blackout curtains, which are attached to all the windows.

the Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

And when the nighttime trickles in, passengers can use the van’s exterior lights – such as a light bar – to brighten up any dark campgrounds.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

All of this is powered by a generator, two 100-amp-hour batteries, a 2,000-watt inverter, and a total of 400-watts of solar power, to name a few energy-related features.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach

Looking for an RV ahead of the summer travel boom? Airstream’s new camper will be available this year starting at $213,850.

2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach
Read the original article on Business Insider

A major RV maker now has $14 billion in backlogged orders and is ‘pretty much sold out for the next year’

Thor Industries manufacturing plant in Indiana in 2018
A Thor Industries manufacturing plant in Indiana in 2018.

  • Road travel skyrocketed in popularity during COVID-19, and many RV makers saw a boost in sales.
  • Now, RV maker Thor Industries has a $14.32 billion order backlog.
  • The company is “pretty much sold out for the next year,” CEO Bob Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic gave the RV industry a major boost in sales during 2020. Popularity was so high, RV maker Thor Industries now has a $14.32 billion order backlog, the company said in its 2021 third-quarter earnings report on Tuesday.

Thor Industries – which owns RV brands like Jayco and Airstream – first began seeing a boost in sales in May and June of 2020, especially with RV newcomers, Thor Industries’ president and CEO Bob Martin told Insider in May 2020. This boom in popularity only continued to grow: Thor achieved $3.46 billion in net sales in Q3 2021, the strongest in the company’s history, Martin said in the earnings report. This is a 105.7% increase compared to Q3 2020.

And now, this boost in sales has grown into an over $14 billion order backlog, which is an almost 550% increase compared to the same time in 2020. Taking a closer look, Thor’s backlog for towables and motorized RVs by the end of April in North America increased 766% and 548%, respectively, compared to the same time in 2020.

And now, the company is “pretty much sold out for the next year,” Martin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.” Many of Thor’s dealers also have “virtually no” inventory, but because a large portion of its backlog consists of pre-sold orders, Thor currently won’t be able to increase its dealers’ inventories, Martin told Cramer.

“Since a significant number of units in our backlog have already been retail sold, we currently believe the restocking cycle will extend well into calendar 2022,” Martin said in the earnings report.

To combat this pileup of orders, Thor has and will continue to boost production, according to the company.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How this couple went from traveling the US in a camper van to selling camper van conversions on Instagram for up to $90,000

Louis the Van
Louis the Van’s Louis build.

  • Two months after Seth and Scarlett Eskelund began #VanLife full-time, the US shut down.
  • The couple headed back home and started their own camper van conversion company aided by social media.
  • This business affords them the flexibility needed to go back into van life once the pandemic is over.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many of us remember exactly where we were when we first realized COVID-19 was about to jarringly disrupt our lives.

For Seth and Scarlett Eskelund, the realization hit when they were in Sedona, Arizona, a 29-hour drive from home on the East Coast. The couple had just begun their full-time #VanLife journey two months prior, a goal they had been working towards since early 2019 when they first purchased a used van to turn into their own tiny home on wheels.

“It was pretty devastating for both of us,” Seth Eskelund told Insider in an interview. “It was a long time in the [car ride back home] to sit and think about it and go down Interstate 40 essentially the wrong way for what we had prepared for.”

levii the van 1
Louis the Van’s Levii build.

However, a glimmer of hope came out of this disappointment. Along the drive back home, the couple decided to pursue their plans of buying another used van to convert into a camper, an idea they had already been toying around with.

“We wanted something that would keep us connected to the van life community,” Scarlett Eskelund told Insider in an interview. “We knew we wanted this in the long run. We figured we’d do something that kept us connected to the community as a whole.”

This decision then turned into Roah (pictured below), the couple’s first camper van conversion after returning home during COVID-19. The moment they completed and sold the van, the duo returned to the road and began heading up to Canada for the summer.

Louis the Van's Roah build camper van
Louis the Van’s Roah build.

But as we all know now, the Canadian border closed, and the couple was again forced to return home. That was when they decided to convert another van, this time out of leased warehouse space. And as the cliche goes, the rest is history, and the couple has now built five vans, including the personal camper that’s been with them since the start of their van life journey.

“We joke that we’re just continually forced into this in the best way possible,” Scarlett Eskelund said.

Converting and selling vans is a necessity

QUIN the van 1
Louis the Van’s Quin build.

“If we don’t sell these vans, it’s over, not just for the business, but … we would have no money to get back out on the road and travel,” Scarlett Eskelund said. “Luckily I don’t think either of us harped on that too much, because I think if we did, we definitely wouldn’t have gotten into this.”

The pair’s 12 to 18-hour workdays grant them a rapid turnaround time. The first van they built in the warehouse, pictured below, was completed in 20 days – partially because the couple needed the financial support – and sold in three weeks.

QUIN 2
Louis the Van’s Quin build.

Ironically, that van was the longest it has ever taken the couple to sell a finished van. Their “list-to-sell” time normally sits at around two to three weeks, which Seth Eskelund says is “pretty quick.”

Relying on public interest after a van has been completed – instead of doing custom builds – may seem risky. But so far, this business decision has paid off with the help of the couple’s YouTube and Instagram presence, which have almost 70,000 subscribers and 21,000 followers, respectively. All of the couple’s buyers have found their vans through Instagram, where the Eskelund’s will do daily check-ins on their in-progress vans.

Within two to three weeks after a camper van sells, the pair will have another used van in the garage, ready to convert again.

Their pricing methods aren’t an industry-standard, but that’s the point

levii the van 2
Louis the Van’s Levii build.

The Eskelund’s camper vans have been a hit with customers because of their prices, according to the couple. Their tiny homes on wheels can range from a weekend warrior van to a built-out unit with a shower and toilet. But no matter the amenities, the couple aims to price “very fairly” and below the current market rate, which can often run high.

Camper van conversion companies and RV makers have seen a boom in sales as more people have turned to road travel during COVID-19. But as a result, the camper van market has been price gouging, sometimes to the tune of an additional $60,000 to $70,000 compared to 2019 prices, according to Seth Eskelund. But when pricing their own vans, the couple doesn’t want to take this route, and instead opts for a price tag that’s less than the general market.

From the start, the couple’s goal was to convert vans to give them something to focus on during the coronavirus pandemic. The point was never to become wealthy from the business: instead, they wanted to break even or just make a small income.

“It’s a lot more than just a business and money for us,” Seth Eskelund said. “I would say we are as personally invested in the vans as we are in the business, and maybe that’s not smart from a business perspective on us, but that is who we are.”

QUIN the van
Louis the Van’s Quin build.

The pair factors in several aspects when pricing the van, including its mileage, the cost of purchasing the initial used van, and build specifications. This then leads to a price range of anywhere between $30,000 to $90,000, which is far cheaper than builds from companies that have an almost $300,000 tag.

There’s also the added bonus of ad revenue from their YouTube videos, which allows the couple to subsidize their prices while educating the public about how to DIY a camper van.

“Obviously there is demand and a lot of supply as well, but I think that’s been a factor in why we sell quickly because we really do try to price as fairly as we can,” Seth Eskelund said.

As Scarlett Eskelund describes it, this is both a lifestyle and a business, giving the couple fluid “accessibility.” When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the pair will continue their business for as many months out of the year as they would like. For all the other months, they’ll resume their #VanLife dreams.

“It’s a means to an end,” Scarlett Eskelund said. “It allows us the ability to do what we really want to do.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

An RV subscription company just raised $37 million. Here’s how it plans to grow ahead of the expected summer travel boom.

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

  • RV membership company Harvest Hosts recently received a $37 million investment from Stripes.
  • Harvest Hosts’ program allows RV travelers to stay overnight in locations like wineries and farms.
  • Joel Holland, Harvest Hosts’ CEO, explains how it’ll navigate the summer travel boom with this new investment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Harvest Hosts, an RV membership company that gives RVers access to “unique” overnight stays, has found success during COVID-19, and a new almost $40 million investment will allow the business to continue its fast growth ahead of the predicted summer travel boom.

Road travel vehicle manufacturers specializing in RVs, camper vans, and trailers saw a huge spike in sales during 2020 as COVID-19 stopped would-be travelers from flying and cruising. However, these makers weren’t the only travel-adjacent companies that benefited from the coronavirus pandemic: from May 2020 to December, Harvest Hosts’ membership base doubled in size, the company says.

Prior to this, the company had already been growing fast due to the millennial #VanLife boom and retirees interested road travel. But when COVID-19 hit the US, “everything went into hyper-speed,” Joel Holland, CEO of Harvest Hosts, told Insider in an interview.

Read more: How the coronavirus pandemic will permanently change the transportation industry, according to 23 industry leaders

Harvest Hosts’ expanding business eventually caught the attention of Stripes, leading to its $37 million investment in the RV membership company. Stripes previously invested in companies like GrubHub, Reformation, and Refinery29.

“We look to back ambitious entrepreneurs who are delivering amazing products, and it became clear as we spent more time in the space that Holland is building a really special product for RVers,” Chris Carey, a partner at Stripes, said in a press release. “His vision for the company is something we are excited to be part of.”

How it works

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

Harvest Hosts’ appeal is in its straightforward membership model. Members can tap into the company’s network of over 2,000 locations – known as “hosts” – across the US for overnight RV stays. The company’s hosts encompass a wide range of destinations, including breweries, farms, golf courses, and wineries, the latter the most popular option.

There are several stipulations to the membership program. For one, members must have a “fully self-contained RV” with a toilet and wastewater tanks. RV travelers are also required to notify the hosts ahead of their arrivals and are discouraged from staying longer than the allotted 24-hour overnight stay.

Annual memberships start at $79 for the classic package. This price then jumps to $199 for the classic package plus access to golf and country clubs. Overnight stays don’t come at any additional cost, but Harvest Hosts encourages its members to spend money at their destinations in order to support the local hosts.

“We keep our membership costs low because we want to encourage people to take the money they’re saving and spend it with the local businesses,” Holland said. Currently, about 60% of its members are retired, and over half have a six-figure-plus disposable income, making them a “powerful buying force,” Holland explained.

Last year, Harvest Hosts’ members spent over $25 million at the visited locations. Holland projects this will grow to $30 million this year, which translates to an additional $15,000 for winery-based hosts specifically.

Harvest Hosts has grown quickly. This is how its new investment will help

Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts.

The company’s rapid growth has been a constant for several years now. From 2018 to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvest Hosts’ membership base grew ten times, and this growth only continued to accelerate through 2020.

According to Holland, new members began flocking to the company through the summer – as expected – into the winter. Travel normally hits a lull during winter, but the inverse happened for Harvest Hosts: interest in January and February 2021 were so high, the number of members spiked 400% compared to last year.

Now, the company is anticipating a massive summer travel boom, and consequently, the potential for further growth with the help of its new financial cushion and Stripes’ resources.

“Everything in this industry seems to be moving fast,” Holland said. “We want to make sure we can keep up, and the funding will help us do that.”

According to Holland, this $37 million investment will help Harvest continue the growth of both its host and member communities, all with the goal of becoming “the trusted resource for RVers when they’re looking for a place to stay.”

To do this, Harvest Hosts is now using the money to boost its location catalog from a little over 2,000 hosts, to 3,000 hosts by the end of the year. Looking even further ahead, the company is “racing to 10,000,” Holland said.

Along with this host growth, the Harvest Hosts is also building out features like improved “route planning tools” and a new reservation system meant to ease the hosting process.

“The faster we can get more hosts onboard, the better for our members and these small businesses,” Holland said. “The more we scale, the better everyone does, so I’m excited to [do so] as quickly as possible, and that takes money. “

Are you a travel industry employee or have a travel industry story to share? Contact this reporter at bchang@insider.com.

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This company created a $25,000 RV travel trailer designed to be towed by an EV like a Tesla

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

  • Polydrops unveiled the P17A, a travel trailer that can be towed by electric vehicles like Teslas.
  • The P17A has been an enormous hit since before it was publicly unveiled.
  • The trailer ranges from $24,990 to $36,140 depending on the add-ons, which includes a kitchen module.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Travel trailer maker Polydrops – which designs its tiny homes on wheels to look like spaceships – has taken a new approach to road travel vehicles by unveiling a trailer that can be towed by EVs, including Teslas.

The first Polydrops trailer was designed in 2017 and unveiled two years later. Since Polydrops’ conception, vehicles  have revolutionized and become increasingly electrified, and the travel trailer maker is now following this electrification lead with its own EV friendly towable.

Polydrops has always been known for its uniquely shaped, futuristic looking travel trailers, and this new unit is no exception. But unlike any previous model, the P17A is the “first travel trailer in the market designed for an EV,” and has been tested using a 2018 Tesla Model 3, according to Polydrops.

The P17A has since been a hit with the public since before it was officially unveiled.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

“We are getting an enormous amount of emails through our website,” Kyunghyun Lew, Polydrop’s founder, told Insider in an email interview. “We’ve sold to the local customers even before we officially launch the product, and one of them purchased it only with the 3D rendering images.”

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Like other road travel vehicle makers, Polydrops saw a boom in popularity following coronavirus-related lockdown measures.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

However, it closed its sales soon after to meet its orders and to create the P17A and the upcoming P21X, the latter a larger trailer model, according to Lew.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

The trailer has reduced air drag, rolling resistance, and weight to make it more EV friendly, according to Lew.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

During a test road trip from Los Angeles to Lone Pine, California, a 2018 Tesla 3 Long Range rear-wheel-drive towing the P17A logged 306 watt-hours-per-mile, according to Polydrop.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

As a result, the 2018 Model 3 could travel 245 miles on one charge even while towing the P17A.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Of course, this range varies per electric vehicle and model year, but on average, an EV towing a P17A has an energy consumption of 298 watt-hours-per-mile and a range of 251 miles, according to Polydrops’ website.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Source: Polydrops

The aluminum trailer has an aerodynamic shape, allowing the electric vehicle towing the 1,200-pound trailer to save some energy.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Now, onto the general basics of the trailer. The P17A uses foam core and aluminum for its structure and has batteries integrated into its floor.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

These batteries then supply between 2.4 to 12-kilowatt-hours of energy.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

This battery system also accompanies the solar panels, which then in turn supply between 260 to 520-watts of solar energy.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

The 2.4 kilowatt-hour battery can be upgraded to 4.8 or 12 kilowatt-hours for $2,000 or $8,000 respectively.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Similarly, the 260-watt solar panels can be boosted to 520-watt for an additional $800.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

A fully upgraded Polydrops trailer can last off-grid for six nights.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

“It is a freedom to stay anywhere, work anywhere,” Lew told Insider.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Elements like the upgraded suspension allow the trailer to travel smoothly.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

The trailer stands at about 13.5 feet long, six feet wide, and 5.3 feet tall. The interior width is 4.5 feet, which is bigger than the previous Polydrops trailer model.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

This allows the unit to fit a full-size mattress.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Power may be limited, but the insulated trailer still has amenities that make it comfortable to inhabit, including a heater and air conditioner.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Polydrops’ decision to run the entire HVAC system using battery power was inspired by customer feedback, especially from Tesla drivers, according to Lew.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

According to Lew, the P17A is Polydrop’s “most advanced” product yet with its temperature control system and insulated structure, both of which make it weather-tolerant.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

There are also interior outlets, including USB ports, to power up any other necessary tech.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Interior LED lights brighten up the space for nighttime camping.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

There are also several storage units throughout the tiny home on wheels, including a small closet with a clothes bar.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

No need for a campfire meal: the trailer can be upgraded with a kitchen add-on for $1,850.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

This add-on gives the P17A a refrigerator, an induction stovetop, a sink, a utensils holder, and storage units, including ones for fresh and greywater.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

The kitchen can be accessed from both inside and outside the trailer, which means there’s no need to crawl outside for a midnight snack.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

Don’t want to bring a portable speaker? You can upgrade the P17A to include Bluetooth speakers for $500.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

The trailer can range from $24,990 to $36,140 with all of the most expensive add-ons included.

P17A travel trailer polydrops
The P17A travel trailer.

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