Tag: vanlife

By on March 26, 2021

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

Remember the all-electric Microbus successor Volkswagen was chirping about a few years ago? If you don’t, you can be forgiven. Despite the model receiving loads of press after the automaker acknowledged it would indeed be coming to North America, reports on its progress started becoming incredibly rare by 2019. With #VanLife trending inside the United States, VW would be an absolute fool not to start offering something trendy to fit the bill and the horribly named I.D. Buzz seems an ideal candidate. However, it feels as though the company has forgotten our market while it preps the model for Europe.

There’s reportedly no reason to worry. Volkswagen has confirmed that the model will be showing up on our shores in 2023 after it’s made a splash across the pond. But there will be a few stipulations.  (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2020

Eager to prove itself as a forward thinking mobility brand, Ford has advised us to prepare for the debut of the battery powered E-Transit van on November 12th. Following some heavy teasing from CEO Jim Farley during the company’s third-quarter earnings call a day earlier, Blue Oval issued an official announcement on Thursday to be ready for the commercial vehicle poised to change the way it does vans.

We’ve heard this before. There was supposed to be a battery electric Transit Connect, developed in partnership with Azure Dynamics, coming to market for the 2011 model year. While a prototype existed and was driven around by numerous outlets who praised it for being incredibly normal, the car ended up being prohibitively expensive to manufacture and kind of underwhelming to live with. Range was an abysmal 56 miles (according to the EPA) and the van was only just barely capable of maintaining highway speeds. In the end, Ford handed the project over to Azure  which nixed the passenger model and sold a few thousand commercial versions to various U.S. bureaucracies, coastal power companies, AT&T and the Canada Post for a little under $60,000 a pop.

Azure then went bankrupt.

(Read More…)

By on February 6, 2020

Van culture is making a comeback. We know this because the media has glommed onto the topic as young adults continue to share stories about how not having a mailing address (because they live in vans) is the best thing that ever happened to them.

While you’re unlikely to encounter these people all that regularly offline, the internet is full of them. And yet there’s no real consensus as to the appeal of custom vans. Plenty of people embrace the van life because they see it as an affordable way to tour the countryside; others view it as part of the minimalist movement, or simply as the best way to avoid becoming totally homeless.

Want more than a tent over your head while camping? Need a place to wait out the impending civil war? Simply feel the need to capitalize on a trend that’s growing in popularity on YouTube? Van living has you covered — and Mercedes-Benz is ready to help.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2020

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris front quarter

Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who spend the majority of their days in a van of some sort. I’m not talking about the beautiful people on social media hashtagging their rebranding of the Seventies-era shaggin’ wagon as “vanlife.” I’m talking about tradespeople, for whom a van is as important a tool as a hammer or pipe wrench.

For most of my working life, I’ve worked alongside these van drivers — I’ve been selling various products to these workers for the better part of two decades. I’ve noticed over the years that the variety of vans has expanded recently. Where the parking lot of whatever supply house was once filled with cookie cutter vans from the Detroit Three — occasionally dotted with repurposed minivans — these days any variety of tall, Euro-styled boxes-on-wheels might greet me.

The Sprinter was the leader of this new vanguard, with workers praising improved driving dynamics and improved space efficiency. Now a smaller model comes, the Mercedes-Benz Metris, to deliver much of those improvements in a more city-friendly package. Can this sturdier (not-so)minivan replace the stalwarts?

(Read More…)

By on August 27, 2019

Despite vans being slightly more popular than getting a thumb in the eye, Mercedes-Benz is sticking with them. Earlier in the month, the automaker revealed the production version of its 252-mile (we’ll see) EQV. Essentially an electrified version of the plush V-Class/Metris, the model will likely serve a very specific subset of the population.

On the other end of the spectrum, Daimler has been mulling over what should be done about the Citan. As the smallest van in MB’s range, the Citan also has the lowest point of entry. However, sales are roughly one-sixth what the V-Class sees in Europe, making it a plausible candidate for discontinuation. But it was not to be. On Friday, Daimler announced it will keep its smallest MPV on the table.  (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2018


While the United States seems intent on pushing vans into the work-vehicle category, Europe continues to enjoy them for leisure activities. That’s a shame because there’s a chance some of that interesting van culture would have trickled over the ocean were it not for the chicken tax and unwarranted prejudice.

Volkswagen has several such lifestyle units, with the California being arguably the best in its fleet. Funnily enough, the model isn’t sold in California — nor anywhere else in the U.S. — but a recent update could hint at the direction VW will be taking with the I.D. Buzz. Based on the Transporter and outfitted as a camper van, the California is the true spiritual successor to the microbus. It can certainly trace its linage back to the Type 2 via the Transporter, while its motorhome amenities and optional paint schemes help to finish the job.  (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2018

General Motors has officially confirmed the discontinuation of the Chevrolet City Express work van, which the automaker has sourced from Nissan since 2014. Its sister vehicle, the Nissan NV200, is one of the many vehicles you see serving as a replacement for the Ford Crown Victoria in New York City’s taxi fleet.

However, the City Express is a vehicle you’ve probably never noticed, as they don’t sell particularly well. General Motors moved 8,348 in the United States for 2017, which — believe it or not — was one of its better years. Meanwhile, Ford had a pretty mediocre year with its Transit Connect, managing only 34,473 deliveries. It looks like General Motors is willing to concede the segment to its Blue Oval rival as the NV200 soldiers on sans the Chevy badge.  (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid front quarter

For those of you voyeurs who enjoy peering at perfectly curated photos of strangers’ lives, do me a favor and click over to Instagram and search the “Vanlife” hashtag. It’s a seemingly endless parade of young folk who have eschewed traditional housing for a thoroughly modified full-size van — typically a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ram ProMaster, kitted with beds, kitchens, and storage for implements of extreme living such as mountain bikes or kayaks.

The thing you’ll notice about nearly all of these vanlifers: no kids. It’s hard to get the little ones to hockey practice when you’re living life to the extreme.

I live a very different kind of vanlife here in suburbia. While certainly there are times when I’m hauling an empty box behind me, more often than not I have two kids and their assorted crap to haul. Other times, my van doubles as a truck, with a few sheets of OSB or 10 bags of mulch. I’ve even hauled a spare Miata engine to a race track for a friend who’d popped one in an early race session.

For those of us who need to get back and forth to the office, rather than to or from a trailhead, a traditional minivan is nearly perfect. The only downside? Fuel economy isn’t great, as you’re pushing a big, heavy box through the air. Chrysler recognized this with the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, offering a good bit more efficiency in a familiar package. Does it make #DadVanLife more palatable?

(Read More…)

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