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What’s the best electric vehicle for camping?

Nissan’s e-NV200 was so bad to drive you’d be extending your holidays to avoid going home

Published: 08 Mar 2023

It’s very fashionable to wang on about range anxiety when you drive an electric car – don’t get us wrong, it’s definitely a real thing, but perhaps it can be mitigated by making better choices. Things like driving more sensibly, planning your journey or not driving a 2.5-tonne SUV with miserable efficiency can all help ease the stress of electric life. Isn’t that good to know?

But what we think would be perfect for EV life is just to take a bed with you for when you’re charging. You need never fear the dreaded plug again! Have a snooze, cook some pasta, stick a film on, maybe even enjoy a holiday – seems like the perfect way to recharge your batteries. In more ways than one! Eurgh, sorry.

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Of course, there do currently seem to be rather limited options on the market for such activities. You could get yourself an electric van, like the impressive new e-Transit from Ford, and sling your camping gear in the back. But only sociopaths would contemplate such a thing.

We find ourselves trawling the used car ads at this point, because bafflingly there isn’t anything currently available that fits the bill. Ordinarily the Nissan e-NV200 is not something that would ever have its praises sung on anything featuring a Top Gear logo, but it suits these purposes well. It uses the proven battery set-up from the veteran Leaf, was briefly sold in partnership with a German conversion company and is absolutely awful to drive. Why does that matter? Well think how much you’ll enjoy charging when you’re dreading getting back behind the wheel again. Range anxiety? You’ll have moving anxiety.

The WLTP range from the 40kWh battery was a fairly miserly 124 miles, which also meant that it would take you a week to get wherever you were planning to spend your holiday. Unless you already lived somewhere picturesque, in which case it was perfect for a spot of touring.

The e-NV200 camper had all of the mod cons you’d expect from a camper van – cooker, fridge, sink with running water and a double bed. You couldn’t really ask for anything more from your getaway vehicle, could you? Except for a hundred or so extra miles of range, but what’s that between friends? It’s amazing that the market isn’t already awash with eco-friendly wagons ready for not-quite-off-the-grid living.

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Nissan tried to boost the image of the e-NV200 by pumping out concept versions that served as ice cream vans, mobile offices or a version equipped for extreme camping in Arctic conditions, which you’d imagine could only manage a 150-metre trip into the wilderness before needing a top-up. None of these ideas actually tricked anyone into buying one, except for the odd local authority that wanted to make some headline efforts to reduce fleet emissions. The way to solve range anxiety is indeed to not really go anywhere, but you can do that just as easily at home.

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