Looking into getting an Electric van/campervan (EV) - anyone got any tips?


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Has anyone got any experience of small electric vans?

We haven't had a car for many years.

Just have an 18 year old petrol little Suzuki Carry van that we have had since new converted into a micro campervan.


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Userlevel 7

Great question, @Jeffus!

 

As a micro campervan owner too - I’d love to learn more about the prospect of going electric. Know we’ve got plenty of electric vehicle (EV) owners here who should be able to give some general advice in the realities of living with an EV. If you haven’t already seen it I’d really recommend @Jequinlan’s great blog about holidaying with an EV - 

 

 

So EV owners any thought on the electric vans on the market currently or good tips to consider when researching the options? - @PeterR1947, @MrPuds, @sylm_2000, @D10hul, @Transparent, @NinjaGeek, @Gingernut49, @juliamc, @ArundaleP, @jp1, @RobL , @Peetee, @tesla_model_3

 

:minibus:

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Go for the highest spec you can if you need the range. I have a 2019 Nissan Leaf 40kw Tekna which is brilliant for me as I'm a volunteer driver and usually just potter around locally so 160 miles is fine and I only need to charge it (at home) once a week. I just visited my sister in the New Forest at the weekend and charged at Winchester Services through Ecoserve and it was free. 😀

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LEVC have one https://www.levc.com/corporate/news/ecamper/, there are a few companies  that convert ENV200’s https://www.pioneercampervans.co.uk/car-model/nissan-e-nv200/, I think most people are waiting for VW to release the ID Camper, and the Arrival camper van could also be compelling but there are some other startups with similar ideas

Four years into motorhome ownership. After owning my 24 and 40 LEAF I said I’d never buy another ICE.  So no motorhome upgrade until there is viable EV option

Userlevel 6
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Great question, @Jeffus!

 

As a micro campervan owner too - I’d love to learn more about the prospect of going electric. Know we’ve got plenty of electric vehicle (EV) owners here who should be able to give some general advice in the realities of living with an EV. If you haven’t already seen it I’d really recommend @Jequinlan’s great blog about holidaying with an EV - 

 

 

So EV owners any thought on the electric vans on the market currently or good tips to consider when researching the options? - @PeterR1947@MrPuds@sylm_2000@D10hul@Transparent@NinjaGeek@Gingernut49@juliamc@ArundaleP@jp1@RobL , @Peetee@tesla_model_3

 

:minibus:

Thanks. Enjoyed reading about the camping trip, @Jequinlan. Our alternative plan is to buy an electric car and a tent but we would rather get a micro campervan so we can use all year round. We have camped at New Year in the past. 

The camping and caravan club still let EVs charge up on pitches with electric hookup for no extra cost. You just pay the standard price for the electric pitch. Of course the max KW per hour would be low but it may help get a bit of charge, particularly if leaving the EV unused for a couple of days? Do EVs allow you to limit the KW you draw? Am not sure how long the club will continue with this policy on their sites. 

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Go for the highest spec you can if you need the range. I have a 2019 Nissan Leaf 40kw Tekna which is brilliant for me as I'm a volunteer driver and usually just potter around locally so 160 miles is fine and I only need to charge it (at home) once a week. I just visited my sister in the New Forest at the weekend and charged at Winchester Services through Ecoserve and it was free. 😀

Thanks, @Gingernut49. Am thinking 160 miles real world capacity may be fine for us. I suspect we may have to compromise with the extra weight of a camper. 

However due to the capital cost of an EV, particularly a camper, i would really like one that i would have at least some comfort it might last 20 years like our current van. I wonder if this is realistic with batteries and if so how high a battery capacity i should go for to allow for degradation over time realistically? Perhaps that is a how long is a piece of string question. Perhaps my thought of a 20 year old EV is not realistic? Are there any plans to swap out batteries in older EVs?

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LEVC have one https://www.levc.com/corporate/news/ecamper/, there are a few companies  that convert ENV200’s https://www.pioneercampervans.co.uk/car-model/nissan-e-nv200/, I think most people are waiting for VW to release the ID Camper, and the Arrival camper van could also be compelling but there are some other startups with similar ideas

@jp1, I do like the Nissan, this one is lovely. We have looked at similar sized campers in the past. Would be very high spec and bigger compared to our current van... That is about as big as we would want to go ideally as we only have one vehicle. 

Am hoping the choice and costs will come down quickly as more small commercial vans come on the market. We may end up part converting a basic EV small van and getting help for the more difficult stuff if the prices and choices are an issue. 

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Four years into motorhome ownership. After owning my 24 and 40 LEAF I said I’d never buy another ICE.  So no motorhome upgrade until there is viable EV option

@Maverick, Yep. We would not swap our micro  camper for another ICE camper. 

We have tickets for Glastonbury next year and hope to swap to something else after that depending what is on the market. 

 

 

 

 

Userlevel 7

Very jealous to hear of your Glastonbury tickets, @Jeffus (2022 is going to be a BIG one!)

 

Just added a few tags to your comments so the original posters will get an email notification so they don’t miss your great replies (you can do this by using the @ symbol followed by their username).

 

Also love the idea of doing a conversion of an existing small EV van (looks like this might be the quicker option) - I’ve got a (very old and sadly diesel) converted VW caddy which is the perfect size - wonder what current EV vans could work for a conversion :thinking:

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Well, in theory at least… Almost any van could be converted to a campervan. Hey, I’ve even heard of the odd Reliant Robin being converted into a mini-caravan once or twice!

Since I don’t think you’d need to touch the chassis or any of the important stuff under the bonnet, you (hopefully!) wouldn’t get bogged down in 50 years of red tape, an SVA Test (which makes an MOT Test look like a walk in the park in comparison!), DVLA approval or any of that other messy paperwork that’s involved with getting a totally new vehicle approved for use on the road. After all, that’s the same hack that Top Gear/Grand Tour has used for years to legally workaround this issue.

If you simply re-use the chassis from an existing vehicle that’s already been approved (such as an old Land Rover), some kind of legal magic allows your modified vehicle to “inherit” the approval of the original vehicle - but I would definitely recommend doing your research and double checking anyway, just to be safe. And to be fair, there’s no harm in going through the full paperwork and proper processes anyway I guess.

But if you’re not going anywhere near the chassis, engine, battery, electronics, any important mechanical stuff or anything safety related... Then I guess you could potentially do a conversion by just modifying the bodywork and fitting the van with what you want to put in your campervan conversion.

I’ve heard of quite a few people who’ve managed to convert regular ICE vans into campervans before. So I would guess doing the same thing for an EV van would be somewhat similar?

Oh, and if you consider the fact that the Mercedes-Benz V-Class (formerly known as the Mercedes-Benz Viano) is basically a car that’s based on the Vito and Sprinter chassis, you can probably see what I mean by this. Sure, it’s an ICE rather than an EV, but you can probably see the idea that Mercedes were going for (plus, it’s absolutely huge with tons of space!).

In some ways, if they did an EV version of the V-Class, you could potentially use that as a campervan. I can definitely say that there have been Vito Campervans in the past for example! I’m not sure if those were officially a thing that Mercedes did directly, or if they were conversions, but it was definitely possible.

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Well, in theory at least… Almost any van could be converted to a campervan. Hey, I’ve even heard of the odd Reliant Robin being converted into a mini-caravan once or twice!

Since I don’t think you’d need to touch the chassis or any of the important stuff under the bonnet, you (hopefully!) wouldn’t get bogged down in 50 years of red tape, an SVA Test (which makes an MOT Test look like a walk in the park in comparison!), DVLA approval or any of that other messy paperwork that’s involved with getting a totally new vehicle approved for use on the road. After all, that’s the same hack that Top Gear/Grand Tour has used for years to legally workaround this issue.

If you simply re-use the chassis from an existing vehicle that’s already been approved (such as an old Land Rover), some kind of legal magic allows your modified vehicle to “inherit” the approval of the original vehicle - but I would definitely recommend doing your research and double checking anyway, just to be safe. And to be fair, there’s no harm in going through the full paperwork and proper processes anyway I guess.

But if you’re not going anywhere near the chassis, engine, battery, electronics, any important mechanical stuff or anything safety related... Then I guess you could potentially do a conversion by just modifying the bodywork and fitting the van with what you want to put in your campervan conversion.

I’ve heard of quite a few people who’ve managed to convert regular ICE vans into campervans before. So I would guess doing the same thing for an EV van would be somewhat similar?

Oh, and if you consider the fact that the Mercedes-Benz V-Class (formerly known as the Mercedes-Benz Viano) is basically a car that’s based on the Vito and Sprinter chassis, you can probably see what I mean by this. Sure, it’s an ICE rather than an EV, but you can probably see the idea that Mercedes were going for (plus, it’s absolutely huge with tons of space!).

Our current suzuki carry van has SVA to cover things like the extra seat belts, cutting floor etc. 

Depends on what we did. We could simply add some modular removal furniture etc and limit what we did. There are companies that sell modular furniture for vans or we could build some using the same basis construction we have now. The furniture can all be easily removed in our van, just some clips. Basically keep it simple. 

I think if we went down the DIY route we would stay away from SVA type changes and keep things simple. 

Reclassification of a van to a campervan is also something i doubt we would bother with but would look to meet the DVLA rules. 

https://climbingvan.co.uk/van-life/reclassifying-your-campervan-dvla/

If possible i would prefer to buy a camper already done, so be interesting to see what comes up. 

These are photos of a van like ours currently. 

 

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Nice! I bet it’s not too hard to park that campervan either?

The snag you have to watch out for with a Viano, Vito or V-Class is that they really are absolutely massive - especially if you opt for one with the Extra-Long option rather than Compact or Long. Because yes, that really is an option they’ve been known to offer. :blush:

Parking them is not always easy, but it works if you’re careful and you can fit them into most standard parking spaces without so much overhang that it blocks the road for everyone else. Just try to avoid parallel parking one. :stuck_out_tongue:

But there is one advantage to a Viano or V-Class over a Vito or Sprinter. Because it’s more of a car based on a van than it is an actual van, it’s not quite as tall and you have a slightly better chance of at least thinking about getting under at least some of the height restrictions of a multi-storey car park. Still won’t fit through all of them, but it’s better than nothing.

And one thing that will make Jess happy, is that Mercedes-Benz actually does now have an EV version of the V-Class too. It’s called the EQV and is pretty similar to a regular V-Class except that it’s an EV rather than an ICE. All you need is some ingenuity… And… Erm… Cash… A lot of cash… You’d be talking at least £70k before you even think about any conversions!

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I may well look to buy a second hand EV van. 

I would rather not buy one that has been used for V2G. 

Will I be able to tell? 

Do you think EVs that have been used for V2G will be cheaper? 

 

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I would imagine @Jeffus that an EV used for V2G purposes won’t really have much more wear and tear on the battery pack than any other EV that has never been part of V2G. The value of the vehicle is probably more likely to be influenced by the overall health of the battery pack than how it was used by the previous owner(s).

What I would say though, is that V2G can sometimes help to maintain battery health, since it basically replicates normal charging and discharging cycles - and has definitely been helpful during all these lockdowns! If V2G was being done properly and within the terms of the V2G Scheme and the Vehicle/Battery Warranty Terms and the battery was still shredded anyway, you could probably do a warranty claim to get the battery either repaired or replaced.

I don’t think you need to worry too much. But hopefully some of the trialists can advise more than I can.

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Some great things to consider here, @Jeffus, particularly if you’re thinking of going down the second-hand EV route.

 

 

I may well look to buy a second hand EV van. 

I would rather not buy one that has been used for V2G. 

Will I be able to tell? 

 

As far as I’m aware (happy to be corrected on this one V2G experts) it’s only the Nissan Leaf that’s currently been used this way, so shouldn’t be an issue if you’re looking for a small EV van. Does raise the interesting point of how to check the battery-life of a pre-owned EV. If you haven’t already seen it there’s a great discussion on EV battery health here -

 

 

Keep asking the questions, we’d love to hear how this is influencing your EV van plans! :relaxed:

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Yes, I think the only readily available option is the NV-E200., and it seems quite solid. Renault is working on a van, I think. Is the Renault Kangoo big enough? Then there is the Ford Transit electric and a Mercedes Sprinter, but they may be reserved for business customers. 

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Great suggestion with the Renault Kangoo, @MrPuds - was that the type of size you were thinking, @Jeffus?

 

Not sure if you’ve already seen this but found a great intro video to the Kangoo and other smaller EV vans available (in 2019 so a little out of date but may give a idea of what might be coming up on the secondhand market) and some more suggestions at the bottom of our EV van guide.

 

Keep us updated on your EV researching - be great to hear if you do start a secondhand search! :slight_smile:

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Great suggestion with the Renault Kangoo, @MrPuds - was that the type of size you were thinking, @Jeffus?

 

Not sure if you’ve already seen this but found a great intro video to the Kangoo and other smaller EV vans available (in 2019 so a little out of date but may give a idea of what might be coming up on the secondhand market) and some more suggestions at the bottom of our EV van guide.

 

Keep us updated on your EV researching - be great to hear if you do start a secondhand search! :slight_smile:

Thanks

I think we will take our current van for one last trip to Glastonbury next year which also gives us time to see what happens in the van market which is a bit limited in what you can actually buy at the moment, certainly secondhand. Also gives us time to save some more capital. Whatever the lifetime costs, the upfront costs are still a challenge for many. 

The Nissan ENV200 is probably a good bet at the moment as there is a stock of second hand ones around if we go down that route, albeit not many. It is still in production for now at least which is good, although Nissan may switch to the Kangoo chasis. The Nissan feels about the right size for us to drive. We don't want to go up to a ford transit size van. 

We will go and look at the VW when it is out but the price will be very high.... 

https://www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/en/electric-vans/id-buzz.html

Given there are examples of petrol versions of the nissan van being converted to campers is useful in terms of fit out ideas.

The internal height of the Nissan 1.22m is better than the Renault which is 1.129m. I think that is the big issue with the Renault as it would mean fitting a raising roof from the start realistically rather than seeing if we could manage to a later date. 

There are a few different examples of the electric Nissan being converted which is useful in terms of seeing what people have done with the bed which is the first thing to get right, particularly in terms of staying away from the batteries when fixing to the floor.... Also useful to see what people have done in terms of electrics, heating and cooking.

Examples of professional conversion between 50 and 60k with a new nissan if money were no object.

https://www.pioneercampervans.co.uk/car-model/nissan-e-nv200/

https://cccampers.co.uk/collections/nissan-nv200-camper-car-options/products/nissan-env200-clee-camper-car-by-cccampers-ready-for-the-uks-electric-generation?variant=32056908644446

https://www.sussexcampervans.com/our-vans/e-nv200-camper car

It is not unusual for professional conversions to be done on second hand vehicles so that could bring the price down perhaps.

Quirky conversion

https://wildvan.com/nissan-e-nv200-electric-micro-camper-conversion/

DIY conversion, with very different use of electrics making use of the batteries in the van. 

https://blog.zerocarbonadventures.co.uk/2018/10/electric-campervan-diy-conversion.html?m=1

 

 

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LEVC have one https://www.levc.com/corporate/news/ecamper/, there are a few companies  that convert ENV200’s https://www.pioneercampervans.co.uk/car-model/nissan-e-nv200/, I think most people are waiting for VW to release the ID Camper, and the Arrival camper van could also be compelling but there are some other startups with similar ideas

 

I filled out the “interested” part of their web site and they actually called me yesterday!

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Exciting news, @jason.lewis - Was it the VW ID Camper that you’ve registered an interest for? 

 

Keep us updated - we’d love to get the lowdown if you get offered a test drive! :grinning:

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@Jess_OVO  sorry it was the LEVC

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A hire option

https://www.weareev.co.uk/campervan

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Great find, @Jeffus!

 

You tempted to try hiring to get a feel for life with an EV camper before you get your own? :minibus: (we’d love to hear all about it if so!)

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I know it’s not (yet) a campervan, but it’s easily converted. OVO Field Force’s new fleet of Vauxhall Vivaro EVs on show in the Bristol office car park today, and we had a chance to speak to the engineers driving them. 

 

I didn’t know about brake assistance charge!

 

 

Great range on these, @Jess_OVO do you remember the figure? Love the colour ;)

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There was definitely campervan conversion potential with that one and a range of ~260 miles if I remember correctly.

 

Far enough for a trip down to Cornwall at least! :sunglasses:

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