While there are a few notable exceptions, hybrid camper vans seem to be getting skipped over in favor of largely under-ranged electric campers, which makes little sense for a purpose-built vehicle to tour distances. UK camper shop Sussex Campervans breaks from the trend, retrofitting the lithium battery system from its all-electric Nissan NV200 camper van to a hybrid it calls the Camper Car VX-E. The tiny camper van adds lithium-powered camping amenities to the full range and flexible fueling of its gas powertrain, leaving behind the need for LPG or diesel at camp.
We’ve seen the concept of an LPG-free camper van with electric camping amenities before, and it’s even one that’s made its way to North America, where camper van design lags well behind Europe. But the way Sussex arrived at its own gas-electric layout is unusual and demonstrates a demand for hybrid camper tech.
Unlike other shops that have designed zero-LPG camping packages as an intermediate step on the way to an eventual all-electric RV, Sussexs it as a step back from its double-lithium-loaded fully electric mini-camper van. The company explains that it created the hybrid Nissan NV200 Camper Car VX-E in response to high demand, pairing the lithium-iron-phosphate electrical system it developed for its e-NV200 camper van to a petrol 1.6-liter-powered NV200 base van .
Sussex initially created its powerful lithium package for campers who wanted to go zero emissions from bumper to bumper, driving and camping with only battery power. But it realized that the package could work equally well for travelers that want to go greener but without giving up the range and flexibility of a gas powertrain.
Sussex lists the gas NV200’s combined fuel economy at 35 mpg, and given the van’s 14.5-gal (66-L) gas capacity, drivers are looking at the potential for over 500 miles (805 km) of range per fill-up. Even if we cut that down to the 360 miles (580 miles) or so the van is rated at by the US EPA, that’s still more than double the e-NV’s 124-mile (200-km) WLTP combined range rating. Plus, drivers can just fuel it quickly at a gas station rather than having to bake electric charging stops into the trip.
Once parked at camp, the VX-E’s lithium battery and inverter take over power supply duties, running the 50-L compressor fridge, induction cooktop, LED lighting, and USB and 12V outlets. Sussex also wires in a 240-V electric hookup for plugging in at a campground with shore power.
The kitchen block combines with extra storage and countertop space in back to run the full length of the driver-side rear passenger and cargo areas. The 173-in (440-cm) van seats four people on a combination of folding two-seat rear bench and two front seats. It can sleep them all on the lower “rock-n-roll” folding bed and available upper bed in the pop-up roof.
The Nissan Camper Car VX-E is Sussex’s latest offering and launched as part of the 2022 model lineup. The company builds the camper on used NV200 vans that range in age from six months to 10 years. Prices start at £48,995 (approx. US$58,825), a nice up front savings over the £67,995 ($81,625) Sussex now charges for the fully electric e-NV200 Camper Car. Available VX-E model options include solar charging, a slide-out toilet under the bed and a microwave.
Source: Sussex Campervans