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.
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.
So far, the company predicts “huge potential across the UK and Europe,” and will begin delivering its electric campers in Q4 2021.
RV and camper van makers have seen extraordinary sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as other travel options were seen as unsafe.
Now, Wingamm, an Italian luxury RV maker, is looking to capitalize on this trend by bringing its camper van model to the US …
… and the compact motorhome is already booming in popularity ahead of its debut.
Meet Wingamm’s Oasi 540, one of “Europe’s most sought after motorhomes,” according to the press release.
“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 popularity isn’t just a European trend.
For the past three or four years. Wingamm has been receiving inquiries from US-based customers interested in the compact RV, Turri told Insider.
Wingamm’s RVs are currently available in 15 European and Asian countries, but the US market has always been a goal for the company.
Upon its arrival to the states, the camper van will be distributed by TM Motorhome Sales.
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.
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.
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).
“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.”
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.
And all of this happened despite not having any marketing campaigns in the US yet, according to Turri.
“[The US] is a huge market that could be immediately bigger than our European market because we are receiving many inquiries,” Turri said.
The company now has a waitlist of over 550 customers, according to the press release.
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.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the features that have made the Oasi 540 so successful.
The camper van is based on a Promaster, but it has its own custom one-piece monocoque fiberglass shell.
This shell prevents leaks, improves sound insulation, and allows for a customizable floor plan.
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.”
“Because of the custom fiberglass monocoque shell, Wingamm is basically able to design whatever floor plan it wants,” Diamond said.
The camper is 17 feet, 9 inches long, which should fit in most standard US parking spots.
This size means the van can operate in both national parks and cities.
Diamond calls the camper van an “alternative to an apartment,” and it’s easy to see why given all of its home-like amenities.
Despite being pint-sized, the tiny home on wheels still has several key rooms, including a bedroom, bathroom, closets, and kitchen.
The kitchen and living room are towards the front of the van, while the bathroom and additional closet storage fall towards the back.
If you’re wondering where the bedroom is, well, it’s in the ceiling.
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 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.
Hiding the bed in the wall makes space for a larger kitchen, bathroom, and living room.
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.
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.
Now, onto the kitchen, which is right across from the living room.
The kitchen has a two-burner gas stove, a countertop, several soft-close cabinets …
… a sink with a cutting board cover, and a refrigerator-freezer.
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).
There’s a shower, sink, ceramic toilet, vanity, and cabinets, all within the compact space.
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.
Worried about wintertime? The heated floors will help keep the already insulated camper even warmer.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“I suppose we’ll have more demand than products for the first season,” Turri said.
To address this, the company is already looking to grow production by investing in a new manufacturing plant.
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.
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.
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
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.
Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer rental service (much like Airbnb) that started in 2015. Over the years, the platform has expanded and today there are over 200,000 vehicles listed for rent in over 4,800 cities and 14 countries. Jen Young, CMO and co-founder of Outdoorsy, told Insider in December 2020 that the number of RV rentals made on the site skyrocketed during the pandemic.
I, too, decided to rent a camper van during the pandemic after years of wondering if life on the road was for me. Ultimately, I booked a 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van through Outdoorsy for a weekend trip from New York City to Philadelphia.
From booking to talking with customer service, here’s what planning a road trip through Outdoorsy is like.
First, Outdoorsy’s landing page prompted me to search for an area in the US and plug in my travel dates.
I typed in New York City and then the dates I was looking to rent the van. I was surprised it didn’t ask me any other information, like how many people were traveling or what type of vehicle I was looking for.
After I entered this basic information, the available vehicles were listed in a grid on the left and laid out on a map on the right.
There were two things that stood out on this page. First, Outdoorsy’s business model is largely the same as Airbnb, where people rent out their homes for travelers. Essentially, all the vehicles listed on this page are owned by people in the New York area who want to rent out their RVs when they aren’t using them. The resemblance doesn’t end there: This page is even laid out like Airbnb’s website.
The second aspect that stood out to me was the variety of vehicles that were listed. There were over 500 options when I searched, and some were traditional RVs, towable trailers, and camper vans.
At the top, there were filters, which helped narrow down my search significantly.
There were six tabs at the top of the screen that helped narrow the search. In those tabs, I was able to specify that I wanted a camper van — I figured taking a larger, more traditional RV would be too difficult for a novice. I also specified that I wanted to pay less than $500 per night and wanted the camper van to be delivered to my home on the day of my departure.
Only a few camper van owners allowed for delivery — as most renters pick up the vehicles themselves — so my options quickly became limited.
After narrowing my search, there were only two camper vans that suited my needs, so I began chatting with the owners directly.
The first van I liked was a 2014 Dodge Sprinter that was located in Connecticut for $200 per night, while the second one was a more luxurious 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and located in New Jersey for $400 per night. While their prices varied greatly, each had plenty of bright, large pictures that showed off every inch of the vehicle.
Like Airbnb, I had to message and confirm with the owners before actually booking the camper van. The messaging system is built directly into the website, and I received a text message and an email each time an owner sent me a response.
In my conversations with both of the owners, I confirmed the price and asked if they would be able to drop off and pick up the van on my travel dates.
Unfortunately, one of the owners decided I was too far away, so I went with the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Before booking the more luxurious van, I double-checked the list of amenities to ensure it had everything I needed.
These visual icons clearly helped confirm that the van had everything I would need on my short road trip, including enough room for two people, a bathroom, and fresh water.
When double-checking the page, I became concerned about one aspect of the van: There was a 75-mile limit each day, and I would be charged for every mile that I went over. This would mean I couldn’t travel that far outside of New York City if I wanted to keep the price low. When I looked at the other vehicles on the platform, most didn’t have this requirement. I chatted with the owner again, and he explained that he put the limit on the van because he didn’t want people traveling too far.
In the end, I decided to proceed with the booking anyway because this camper van was a perfect match for my needs.
Once the owner confirmed the price and dates, the booking process was simple and fast.
The camper van cost $400 per night plus $200 for delivery and pick up. An additional $180 was added to the bill for insurance, which included up to $1 million in property damage protection and a $2,000 deductible.
In the end, the grand total for a three-night rental came to $1,700. I was also notified that Outdoorsy would take a $3,500 security hold that would be refunded when the van was returned.
I was surprised by how expensive the camper van was for just a short weekend road trip. For $1,700, I could fly to Europe and back again. According to Outdoorsy, the price of a rental on the site can vary greatly depending on the type, style, and size of the vehicle, but in 2020, the average price for a rental was $161 per night.
While the van I rented was priced a bit higher than most of the other vehicles on Outdoorsy, it was more luxurious, so I was paying for the high-end features.
Leading up to the arrival of my van, I turned to Outdoorsy for some much-needed guidance.
Since I had never traveled in an RV or a camper van before, I knew I had a lot to learn. Luckily, Outdoorsy provided teaching tools that were built into the site. On the camper van’s page, there was a section titled “RV Travel Tips,” which had detailed videos explaining delivery, propane tanks, and WiFi.
Additionally, I was having trouble finding an open campground that was located within driving distance from New York City in the middle of the winter. I turned to Outdoorsy again, which had a section on its website that lists campgrounds near certain points of interest across the US.
When the camper van finally arrived outside my apartment in Brooklyn, we instantly ran into some issues.
During the walk-through of the van with the owner, he discovered a leak from the bathroom that was pouring into the living space at the back of the van. After investigating further, he decided he needed to cancel my booking and bring the van back to his shop.
The co-founder of Outdoorsy, Jen Young, told me that vehicles listed on Outdoorsy must be inspected every 90 days, but these issues do arise.
Although it was very frustrating to have my trip canceled just seconds before it was to begin, the owner assured me I could rent the van the following weekend.
The problem was that Outdoorsy was not aware of the new booking we agreed to. Nervous that I was going to be charged for a trip that never happened, I jumped on a call with customer service.
The customer service rep I spoke to gave me conflicting information when compared with what the owner was told to do. I decided to reach out to customer service again via email. Unfortunately, every time I received an email back from them, it was from a different person who was more confused than the last.
Ultimately, we were successfully able to rebook the camper van for the following weekend, but customer service did not offer any discounts for my troubles, which was frustrating.
Young said Outdoorsy is working on a new product feature that will clear up the confusion among the customer support team in the future.
“On the customer support front, we also learned a lot this past year after our busiest year on record, and we’re hard at work to address the areas we know we need to improve on in order to provide both our owners and renters with the best support possible,” Young said.
The following weekend, I was finally able to take the camper van out on the road – with Outdoorsy by my side the whole way.
When the owner dropped the van off the second time, he walked me through a quick tutorial of all the van’s systems. As a first-timer, I didn’t understand some of what he was saying, but I hoped for the best. During my journey, I did run into some issues with the heater and electricity, but I contacted the owner directly via his phone number instead of Outdoorsy.
Owners should upload a manual of their vehicles to the Outdoorsy site so that renters can access it throughout their stay when issues arise.
Outdoorsy did, however, send a text message early in my trip, explaining that I had free roadside assistance in case of “an unexpected emergency.” The text message included the phone number I would need if such a situation arose. Thankfully, it didn’t.
I also downloaded the Outdoorsy app just in case I needed it during the trip.
I downloaded the app so that I could access my messages quickly. I also wanted the app because Outdoorsy has a 24/7 live chat function. Since I was a new RVer, I wanted to make sure I had every support system at my disposal.
Although I ran into problems along my journey, I didn’t end up using the app at all, but it was reassuring to know it was there as an option.
When I returned to Brooklyn, the owner came to pick up the vehicle in another easy process.
When the owner arrived, he inspected every inch of the vehicle to ensure I didn’t break or hit anything while traveling. Even though I went over the 75-mile-per-day limit, he decided to not charge me because of electricity and heater issues I had experienced.
After I signed a few papers, my first experience with Outdoorsy came to a close.
I received an email to write a review of my journey a couple of days later.
Just like most reviews, Outdoorsy asked me to rate my experience on a five-star scale, to describe my overall experience, and to upload any photos from my trip.
Although there were a few mishaps along the way, in my experience, Outdoorsy is the perfect platform for first-time RVers.
From the beginning, it was clear that Outdoorsy’s main mission is to help acclimate new RVers to the world of road tripping. That fact is evident in their easy booking process and in the tools they provide both on their site and on their app.
I believe the growing number of people who feel inspired to get out on the road for the first time because of the pandemic will feel reassured and confident getting behind one of these rigs thanks to Outdoorsy. I know I did.
Even though I had trouble with my van, customer service was a bit confusing, and there are a few features that the company should improve upon, I always felt like I had a support system to help along the way — whether that be the owner himself or the support service via Outdoorsy.
If I take another road trip in the future, I would probably use the platform again — but I’d choose a less expensive vehicle.