Mercedes-Benz isn't going to relinquish its title as the go-to van maker for outdoor lovers anytime soon.
The German marque recently unveiled a new camper van called the Concept EQT Marco Polo at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. The vehicle is a compact alternative for those worried that the near-ubiquitous Sprinter is too big for their needs. It also has the added bonus of being fully electric, something its bigger and more popular sibling can't offer just yet.
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As its name makes clear, the Concept EQT Marco Polo is a prototype. It is the rare concept that you will actually be able to buy, though. It won't be available as a specific model or trim package, but will instead be available as an add-on module that you can purchase through the dealer alongside the EQT.
It's not clear whether Mercedes has settled on what features will come with the module, but the prototype offers quite an enticing preview. The van showed off at the salon is based on the long-wheelbase EQT, which has a length of 177 inches, a width of 73 inches and a height of 72 inches. Its rear seats fold down to reveal a full living and kitchen area, which somehow has enough room for a dining table, refrigerator, sink and pull-out stove top. When you're done for the day, this can be converted into a sleeping area with room for a double bed that sleeps two adults. Two more can sleep in the roof-mounted pop-up tent. Mercedes also managed to find room for 12-liter waste and fresh water tanks and tons of pull-out storage in the back. But the best part might be that the modular setup allows you to switch between camper and everyday modes in minutes.
Like every other EQT, the concept is powered by a single-motor powertrain connected to a 45-kWh battery pack that can produce 121 hp and travel 175 miles on a single charge. Neither of those figures is anything to write home about, but you can charge the battery from 10 to 80 percent in under 40 minutes. Convenience seems to have been the guiding principle for the van's design.
"For us, the future is electric-regardless of the size or purpose of a van. The latest proof of this strategic direction is our new EQT with all-electric drive," Klaus Rehkugler, Mercedes-Benz Vans head of sales, said in a statement. "With the Marco Polo Module, we also have a first, simple solution for the all-electric camping trip on offer in the near future."
The Marco Polo Module will be available for purchase early next year when the EQT goes on sale. Camping lovers might want to wait a little before purchasing the van. The long-wheelbase EQT variant won't go on sale until sometime after the standard model, which is more of a microvan than a minivan. Pricing has yet to be announced, but the EV will start at €49,000 or about $51,500 when it goes on sale in Germany.
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