15 December 2019
15 December 2019, Comments Comments Off on New roads, new dreams
New roads, new dreams


There are a lot of new camper vans being introduced in the European market these days, with (seemingly) more converters than ever creating new ideas all the time. But there are also innovative ideas of other types of leisure products, with the increasingly blurred boundary between concept and normal production vehicles.

Words Andrea Cattaneo

Most RVs produced in Europe used to be homologated on just a few types of products, but those days now seem far away. By contrast, the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon showed a truly diverse range of products, especially in the camper van sector, where new models and new brands were born. Now, a considerable number of choices are offered to the public, with many differences in terms of size, layouts, mechanical base vehicles and prices. There has been a rediscovery of the compact camper van with a raised roof, similar to the Volkswagen California. For example, the Erwin Hymer Group introduced a new model with a new brand: the Crosscamp camper van. There are also sophisticated, luxury models using base vehicles like the Mercedes Sprinter, such as the Westfalia James Cook and the Frankia Yucon. The VisionVenture from Hymer was the only concept, but there was still plenty of news and other types of leisure vehicles at the show, including some really unique campers, like some of the models from Challenger and Chausson. In addition, there is now the search for alternative solutions to diesel engines, as witnessed by Dethleffs with its Globevan e-hybrid: could the electric motorhome soon become a reality?

The highlights

  • Camper van: more interior space

With more and more variety in the camper van segment, and ways to increase interior space, such as the extra-series high roofs, but also with the slide-outs and sizes increasing to almost seven meters, will these models start to steal buyers from semi-integrated or motor homes?

  • Camper for two

The largest percentage of motorhome users are couples: why then, do some offer four-to-five-seater campers when only two people use them most of the time? However, there are more and more models designed for two people, with just two front seats and a large living area in the rear. For example: the Carthago Liner-for-two, the Eura Mobil Integra Line 650 HS, the van Frankia Yucon 7.0, up to the Hymer VisionVenture concept.

  • Electric engines

In the short-term future, will motorhomes be available with alternatives to diesel engines? Probably, yes, as some manufacturers are already preparing for the transition, showing prototypes equipped with hybrid or electric engines.

  • Mercedes

The German automotive manufacturer is becoming an increasingly popular choice as a base vehicle on the European leisure vehicle scene, particularly since the latest Sprinter was launched. The Sprinter offers rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and now finds its front-wheel drive to be penetrating the sector well, combined with the low-frame AL-KO chassis, and the possibility of a double rear axle.

  • Everything is possible

Solutions that once seemed pure fantasy are becoming real today, or at least could be tomorrow. On the one hand the possibilities offered by new construction techniques and materials are considerable, on the other, there are less mental constraints and innovative solutions could expand the market.

  • Caravan: two extremes

The world of caravans is in transformation, and perhaps it will become one of two extremes. There are compact and lightweight caravans for those who want to travel with a modest-sized car, or maybe a hybrid or electric one; then there are plenty of larger, luxury caravans for those who prefer to stay in one place and enjoy maximum space and comfort while parked.

Hymer VisionVenture

Based on the Mercedes Sprinter, the VisionVenture concept presented by Hymer was made in collaboration with BASF. It has the task of probing new living solutions, new techniques and the use of innovative materials.

VisionVenture looks to the future, but it may already be the present. It uses materials that are not only light but also environmentally friendly. Exterior paintwork reflects infrared rays, while inside, there are two impressive ways to expand the living space: in the rear area there is an extractable outside terrace, while in the upper part of the vehicle there is a folding, pop-up roof using inflatable side walls. The rear living area is spacious and stylish, and the wardrobe doubles up as steps to access the bed in roof.

Westfalia James Cook

The German Westfalia brand brings the latest trends in the camper van segment together in a single model: the new James Cook, a conversion based on the Mercedes Sprinter (with a 4×4 version available) has a slide-out at the rear to provide more space for a longitudinal bed, while keeping the external dimensions under six meters (length without slide-out 5.93m). There are three versions of this model available: the James Cook Classic, with a standard height roof, the James Cook AD, with the addition of a camper van-style pop-up roof with a double bed, and the James Cook HD with an extra-high roof. Itís a premium model that, with a few options fitted, could cost 100,000. Thatís practically double the price of many European-made camper vans based on a Fiat Ducato.


Compact vans with elevating roofs have always been a popular sight at the Caravan Salon, but this year saw the return of the Erwin Hymer Group in this market segment with its new Crosscamp brand.
Instead of the well-known Volkswagen Transporter, the Crosscamp uses the smaller and less expensive Toyota Proace base vehicle (closely related to the Citroen Jumpy Spacetourer).
The interior layout is the traditional one of the rear bench seat that converts into a bed alongside a small side kitchen. If desired, additional seats can be added, providing up to seven seats for travelling.

Camper Van "Easy"

Some visitors will have noticed several compact van campers at the Caravan Salon, all under five meters in length, with a folding roof and simple, inexpensive equipment. There was usually no kitchen or the classic rear sofa that turns into a bed. Instead, they use a sliding structure with a mattress divided into two or three portions that is placed over the seats (once folded).
For example, the Pˆssl group introduced the Vanster, a simpler model than its existing Campster, and also the Clever Vandeo, which starts at around 36,000. Other examples are Volkswagen Caravelle by Reimo and Peugeot Traveller by Irmscher. These feature interiors with just seats and a bed that slides over the seats when folded.

Frankia Yucon

At the Caravan Salon last year, Dethleffs presented a prototype of an electric motorhome which grabbed a huge amount of attention. This year, it followed this up with an electric caravan concept based on its Coco model showcasing a series of possibilities for the future. The e.home Coco is designed above all to be easily towed by cars with lower towing limits, such as electric cars. It is equipped with two electric motors that act on the caravanís wheels to help the car with its towing performance. The energy is provided by high-performance lithium batteries, which are recharged when travelling downhill, plus various solar panels on the roof. The e.home Coco can be connected to the houseís photovoltaic system, so that the caravanís batteries function as an energy supply for the building.

Challenger 338 e Chausson 778

With the Challenger 338 and Chausson 778, the French motorhome division of Trigano obviously wanted to amaze the public by exploring new avenues and a new concept of comfort.
These 7.5m long models offer a large bathroom with an elegant piece of furniture with two sinks, in addition to the shower cubicle and toilet compartment (where there is also a third sink). The double bed is hidden above it and is lowered electrically when needed, to then cover the cabinet with the two sinks.

Carthago Chic e-line

The prestigious Carthago Chic e-line has a new face, with a brand new front (new full-LED headlights, grille with horizontal elements) plus an interior with a more modern design.
The change also includes the base vehicle: in addition to the Fiat Ducato with AL-KO chassis, the Chic e-line is now also available on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, with front-wheel drive and an AL-KO chassis with two or three axles.

Knaus and Weinsberg with high roof

Two new six meter long camper vans from the Knaus-Tabbert Group are characterized by the extra-high-top roof, made of fiberglass: they are the Knaus Boxstar XL and the Weinsberg CaraBus 600 MQH. With an external height of 308 cm and an internal height of 238 cm, in addition to the classic rear bed, they can offer a second bed above the living area using a sliding system (it is not a drop-down bed), but even when the bed is extended it is still possible to sit in the lounge underneath.

Carado Show Car

There have been several motorhomes in the past which have been shown with two entrance doors to the living area (in addition to those in the cockpit): Carado returns to this theme with an interesting interpretation. The vehicle presented at D¸sseldorf was a prototype, but nothing prevents it from making it into serial production. The main door is in the front area, near the living area, while the second is in the rear area leading to a large full-height locker, which is a garage for bicycles (hung vertically) which can also be used as a secondary entrance. This could be useful in winter because it has a separation door from the rest of the living compartment.

Adria Astella

Among the many caravans on show at the Caravan Salon, one that aroused a lot of curiosity was the Adria Astella, a new top of the range model, positioned above the already prestigious Adria Alpina. It is difficult to say whether it is a real caravan or a mobile home which, if required, can also be towed. It has a square shape on the outside with an avant-garde interior, and large glass double doors to create continuity between inside and outside. There are three versions: the smallest is the Astella 704 HP which is nine meters long and a maximum weight of 3000kg.

Knaus L!ve I and Weinsberg CaraCore

The Knaus-Tabbert Group launched two new ranges of entry-level motorhomes under 70,000: the Knaus L!ve I and the Weinsberg CaraCore. Conceptually simple, but certainly effective, with good exterior design, and a welcoming interior. Different interior variants are available for both.

Sport use

Van campers designed for the transport of sports motorcycles have always existed, but in recent years the offer of models built in small series has increased.
Weinsberg proposed the CaraBus 630 MEG Outlaw, on a Fiat Ducato with a high roof (external height 282 cm and a length of 636 cm): thanks to an internal height of 218 cm, it has room for a double bed (longitudinal) in the rear area, right above the garage. Adria presented the Twin Supreme 640 SGX with rear drop-down bed and maxi-garage. Citroen exhibited the Jumper Biker Solution with a folding roof and modular rear area (table and seats on tracks, folding bench-bed) to make room for motorcycles.

The space expands

Slide-outs are no longer such an oddity, and multiply the amount of internal space. Alongside the more ìnormalî proposals, there are also vehicles that exaggerate the concept of extending space. Protec exhibited a vehicle with two slide-outs that extend the entire right side and the entire left side: it is the Q18 Vario Plus on an Iveco Daily 70C18 chassis. The interior space is remarkable, in the front there is a large living area and the kitchen unit, in the rear area there are two separate bedrooms and a central bathroom.
Among the caravans, there was the 3X Beauer: the available space becomes three times the initial space. In travel format, the length is 385 cm and the width 195 cm, but when parked it reaches 12m≤, used for living space with a kitchen and bedroom.