Thursday, August 11, 2022

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RV Review: XBUS Camper is a small, quirky electric vehicle

Today’s review is something else we Yanks aren’t able to get our hands on, the XBUS Camper. This little German vehicle from ElectricBrands has about the same cute factor as the modern Mini but in a bus form. 

The company has plans to offer its vehicles as modular systems rather than a specific purpose-built unit. That means that if you bought an XBUS of one configuration for your business, you could buy modules to use it in other forms. Think going from a pickup to a van, for example. 

These are really small vehicles. For those of us who are fans of the old Subaru 360 vans, that’s about what we’re talking about here. They’re only 4 meters (13.12 feet) long, 1.7 meters (5.58 feet) wide, and 1.9 meters (6.23 feet) high. That’s about the same length as the original VW Beetle. But this is a bus. Or van … or camper … or pickup. Well, or all of those. 

In Europe, this is small enough to get it qualified as an L7e quadricycle. In other words, not a car. So that’s how they get past many of the rather stringent regulations there. If you remember the GEM electric vehicles here, they were sort of similar in that they weren’t really a street vehicle. 

XBUS Camper has a top speed of 62 mph

But these XBUSes can reach a top speed of 100 km/h, which is 62 miles per hour. So these do have a bit more performance than a first-gen GEM. 

In the flurry of interesting concepts, the company is revealing now that they’ve come into our world by showing off the XBUS camper van. 

The questions we would have about this would likely start with range. The company states that it can travel about 200 kilometers on a charge, depending on which battery you choose. There is a 15 kWh battery permanently installed, and then batteries that range from 10 kWh to 30 kWh in a drawer at the back of the XBUS. You can literally swap them out.

If you have a business, that makes a lot of sense as you can have charged batteries at the ready and simply swap one in and put the XBUS back on the street.

Yikes! I just cannot imagine going 60 in this thing. Of course, I did it in my Corvair van, which might have just been as crazy. Who knows?

The camper

This might be the most purpose-built of the XBUS variants, as it is a camper. I realize that sounds silly, but so many of the others feature reconfigurable modules, so they are multiple things. 

The best thing I can liken this to that we would be familiar with is the original VW camper van of the 1960s. 

Like that van, there is a pop-up roof section in the middle. You have a bed in the back over what was the engine in those VWs. And a seat up front. 

The center section features a folding seat that either can fold flat, the bottom cushion can fold up to form a seat, or the backrest can fold down. 

When the backrest is folded down it works with the “wayback”—and now you have your bed. Since this is such a short vehicle, the back of the camper actually extends much like a slide room. So you do get a larger sleeping surface. I don’t know how long, though, as more specific details are still forthcoming on this. 

In the center is an island that has a small table that pops out of it. Open the cover and there’s a single-burner stove, though you would think that they would use an induction cooktop in this. I mean, you’re sitting on a huge battery. 

There are also vessels, sort of like Jerry cans, under the island. That’s your water system. 

Electric stuff

The XBUS camper is currently set up with three solar panels on the roof: one over the cab, one on the pop-up section and one on the rear. At this time those provide 260 watts for the front unit, 360 for the pop-top and 200 for the back. Not bad. 

All the usual electric vehicle stuff is happening here with things like regenerative braking and such. With four electric motors in the wheels of this that means four-wheel-drive. 

In summary

Honestly, I don’t know how many serious campers this will attract, even in Germany where their standards of what constitutes a camper are different than ours. But it is cool to see this thing. The idea of a modular vehicle that you can use in your business is going to be a hit, in my opinion. 

I like seeing companies do things that aren’t typical or the same ol’, same ol’, as you all know. 

This will be imported to countries other than Germany but not this one, assuming you’re reading in the US of A. If you are in Jolly ol’ England and have £29,727 (that’s about $36,000), perhaps you might get in line for one of these. 

If you do, please, please visit our forums and explain what your motivation is. I do think there’s a huge market for a reconfigurable and unique vehicle like this. But I am not totally convinced of the camper variant, even though I’m curious. 

Hey. Remember I owned a Corvair camper myself. So weird isn’t beyond my interest by any means. 

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

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B N S
6 days ago

No Thankyou…

Bob M
6 days ago

This might be handy for some people. I was surprised camping at two different campgrounds this month people were camping out of their cars and sleeping in them.

KellyR
7 days ago

Brings back the memories of our 1963 VW Westfalia and our 1968 with pop-top. Oh… younger days and so much fun. Mother-in-law and sister-in-law each had Corvairs.

KellyR
3 days ago
Reply to  Tony Barthel

Oh, to be Jay Leno and having been able to keep every car I have ever owned or driven.

Steve H
7 days ago

This was a timely revew. This morning I passed a fully restored, red and white VW Westfalia camper on my way downtown. And it was the original rear air-cooled engine version with the pop-top, not the later Vanagon. I wondered if it had the side tent included? Anyway, it was definitely a “blast from the past”!

Warren G
7 days ago

Interesting to see this. And to think of how some of these good ideas could be incorporated on something a little larger.

Brad G
7 days ago

Hi Tony
We are in the RV in Southern Maine and I visited a fellow camper who owns a pristine U Haul CT 13 fiberglass camper. He has owned it since 1989. He showed us the inside, albeit very small, it was in remarkable condition. It looked and felt very well made. The 2 hinges on the door looked like they came off a bank vault. I was impressed and intrigued.

Brad Geer
New Hampshire

Bob p
7 days ago

You have to keep in mind, the Corvair van by todays standards would’ve been a full size vehicle, not an oversized coffin on wheels. You mention the optional batteries you can change. Looking at the video looks like that may be very heavy using the size of the battery compartment unless they are individual batteries you then connect together. I thank God everyday he allowed me to be born in America instead of Europe. I guess if I had been born over there and didn’t know any better it wouldn’t matter, but I wasn’t and it does. That thing looks like a rolling death trap to me, especially since it doesn’t have to meet their stringent safety standards. Just say’n

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