Electric RVs have been frustratingly slow to emerge in North America, and when they do, they often don’t have enough range for an everyday car, let alone a recreational vehicle for long-distance travel. California-based Maxwell Vehicles offers longer-range electric camper solutions for long-distance treks.
Instead of building a camper out of a low-end factory van, Maxwell has modified the ICE Ram Promaster with its own 250-mile (402-kilometer) electric powertrain. Not only is that range double that of some rivals, but it’s also backed up by a full-length solar roof that can add double-digit mileage per day. Buyers can choose from a turnkey electric camper or a more affordable electric DIY van.
Unlike a typical electric camper (a camper retrofit added to an existing EV), Maxwell’s Vanacea is a more purposeful electric camper with an electric package designed for touring and camping. This means that the single battery system runs both the “ePro” electric drive and the internal camping equipment. An available 1,400-watt solar roof extends the entire length of the van, recharging the battery pack throughout the day, adding up to 20 miles (32 kilometers) of driving range per day, or providing 8.5 kWh of usable battery power for running equipment.
Maxwell installed the 125 kWh battery pack under the floor of the Promaster to maintain the full cabin volume required for the camper conversion. In addition to a full-range 250-mile battery option, it also offers a smaller 74-kilowatt-hour battery with an estimated range of up to 170 miles (273 kilometers). The battery provides the power needed to drive the front wheels via a 300-horsepower front electric motor. The van is ready for 200-kilowatt fast charging, which can top up the battery in just 30 minutes. It can also be charged via a standard RV connector, although at a much slower rate, making sure the vehicle is charged is not hard to come by.
When parked at camp, the Vanacea’s batteries power all on-board equipment, including heating, air conditioning, and instant hot water. The build includes a 7,800-W inverter to provide AC power. A 10-inch touchscreen provides monitoring and control of electrical equipment, and a mobile app wraps it up for on-the-go access.
To create its complete floor plan, Maxwell worked with Los Angeles camper van store Nook Vans to create a functional, livable layout. Nook is adapting one of its standard floor plans for battery-powered camping in a kit it calls the “E.Nook.” The company moved the wet bathroom and bed away from the more common location, placing a pull-out couch/double bed lengthwise behind the driver’s seat. The bathroom fills the width at the rear, providing enough space for a shower room, dry toilet and storage.
The bathroom location inside the rear door also doubles as storage, where dirty, wet gear, clothing and body parts can be rinsed and dried without having to lug them through the larger interior. This is also a great place to store your unwanted gear near the living room/kitchen.
On the passenger side of the cabin, the remodeled galley area features a slide-out two-point induction hob, 139-litre fridge/freezer, sink and stack of storage boxes for flexible organization. Once cooked, the meal can be enjoyed on the couch or on the swivel cab seat using the multi-position swivel table.
Maxwell wants to equip all truck life customers who want to go electric. Buyers can start with a $53,500 powertrain conversion kit to prepare their own new or used Promaster van chassis for a DIY electric camper conversion. They can also take an already converted Promaster camper van for electrification. The most comprehensive turnkey option is a new, fully converted camper with Maxwell’s ePro powertrain and Nook’s interior for a base price of $190,000.
Those prices aren’t cheap, of course, but they’re not far off what people are already spending on ICE campers. Maxwell has a really interesting option for budget shoppers who prefer an all-electric camper van. While 250 miles certainly isn’t what many buyers expect from a motorhome, it’s comparable to next-gen base vans like the upcoming Mercedes e-Sprinter and BrightDrop Zevo 600, and certainly better than the old one at 125 miles Models like the Ford Electric Transit. The single-battery system and its ability to increase range via solar charging is also a nice streamlined advantage.
All in all, this is the best-looking electric camper package we’ve seen on the US market…with a wide range of prices. That’s not too much of a stretch, as we’ve only seen one other electric camper van for sale, along with a few concept vehicles and rental vehicles, but the Vanacea is definitely a good option to buy in a car like the Volkswagen ID. Buzz and the aforementioned e-Sprinter.