When it comes to camper vans, flexibility is key. The more versatile and adaptable a van can be, able to switch between camper and work van, able to transform to suit its user, the more practical and desirable it’s going to be. Well the latest in modular camper vans isn’t actually a van at all. Similar in concept to the ioCamper we saw last year, or even the Camp365, the PlugVan camping module can be inserted into almost any 3.5T van, expanded and then lived in, whilst even leaving room for cargo. Oh, and did we mention it’s got voice control?

PlugVan expandable camping module
The PlugVan module as displayed in a Peugeot Boxer rental van.

The PlugVan module was unveiled at the recent CMT show in Stuttgart, Germany, by PlugVan founder and creator Jörg Kortmann, who said he was tired of the costs and hassles of camper van living. His idea was to create what is essentially the van version of a pickup camper, a versatile camping module that wasn’t specific to just one van. The unit could be inserted into any van, or even a hire van as it was displayed at CMT, which would save the user money in the longterm, not just in being able to move it between vans, but as it could also save the costly fees of camper van rental.

The plug and play module measures 2m (6ft6) long, weighs 420kg, and is constructed of steel with a plastic roof. Installation reportedly takes just five minutes, as the module is slid into the rear of the van manually by the user, supported by four retractable legs until it is in the van. From here the PlugVan can be rolled forward on its wheels, until its weight is fully supported by the van’s load floor, to which it is attached using tie-downs.

Once inserted, the PlugVan’s walls and ceiling can expand up to 30cm (1ft) to fit the full height and width of the van interior. There’s no insulation, but a large window at the back provides light and allows the users to take in the view. The unit is so compact it leaves room at the rear of the van for items as large as motorbikes, camping gear or even surfboards.

PlugVan expandable camping module
Once inserted into a van, the PlugVan module can grow to fit its size.

Moving indoors, everything about the PlugVan is multifunctional and highly practical. The lounge/diner doubles as a bed, the kitchen unit doubles as a table and workspace, and even raises to make more foot room for sleepers.

Warm wood tones, comfy cushions and plywood make things feel homely, and cabinets for storage are suspended on a rod similar to what you would see in a closet, meaning they can be slid and adjusted into position.

The kitchen contains a single burner stove and a slide-out fridge, and from here a worktop folds out which doubles as a table. The entire kitchen block can be lifted out of the way to make more space once the bed is unfolded and covered with cushions from the lounge.

PlugVan expandable camping module
The kitchen module’s height can be adjusted to clear space for the bed.

Two sofas run along side the walls, which can be joined together to form a larger U-shaped sofa to seat more people, and which contain storage underneath.

A bathroom module can be added in separately to the main box, which contains a toilet and a shower, although surprisingly even with this installed there is still plenty of room in the back of the van for carrying cargo.

PlugVan expandable camping module
The PlugVan’s clever flexible interior provides ample space for two people.

One of the most cutting edge aspects of the PlugVan though, besides its origami-like qualities, is its built-in voice control system. A central touchscreen controls every element of the van, from the fridge to the heating to the battery and water tank levels. Alternatively this can be controlled from a free iOS or Android app for your phone, and can even work remotely and without internet, so you could be out for the day and still able to check whether you left the lights on, or maybe you want to stick the heating on to warm the place up before you get back.

The PlugVan Connect system can even be connected to an Amazon Alexa voice controlled speaker, so even easier than whipping out your phone you could simply say, “Alexa, turn the fridge off”. The only catch is that Alexa would need to be connected to the internet, but this is easy with the PlugVan’s built-in wireless router.

PlugVan expandable camping module
Being able to be removed and placed in another van is a big advantage for the PlugVan unit.

The PlugVan comes with dual 70-Ah AGM leisure batteries installed, 43L fresh and waste water tanks, an Ecomat 2000 fan heater and EvaSmart air con- a surprising amount of tech for a unit with such a small footprint.

Significantly less than a brand new camper van, the PlugVan module is available to buy for €20,000 ($22,725), although pared down versions are available for as little as €6,000 ($6,825). Being made of durable high-quality materials, and with such a simple and flexible premise, owning one of these units could certainly save you money down the line. It has no engine that could fail, is not exposed to the elements so would theoretically never rust, and can be removed and placed into any van, meaning its lifespan could be many times longer than that of a camper van. All in all it’s a simple, well-executed and quite revolutionary concept, paving the way for modular camping in 2019.

Source and image credits: PlugVan