Would you go camping in a motor home?
While motor homes are not very popular in India yet, a Bengaluru startup has launched a luxury camping van and says it is the safest way to travel today
“The LuxeCamper was in planning and design stages for several months, and we were moving towards launch when covid-19 happened. Now, it does seem like it’s the safest way to travel while maintaining social distancing," says Tiger Ramesh, founder of Campervan Camps & Holidays, a Bengaluru-based startup that has created ‘India’s first commercially approved premium motorhome’.
Ramesh, a serial IT industry entrepreneur, has just returned from a trip to Bheemeshwari, a rustic getaway on the Cauvery about two hours from Bengaluru, in his own camper and says he is confident “the experience will be quite novel for most Indians."
Motorhomes, Recreational Vehicles (RV) or camper vans, whatever you may call them, are stupendously popular in the US and Europe, but have not made much headway in India, mainly because of poor road infrastructure and a lack of an outdoorsy, camping culture. But with ‘glamping’ here, could RVs be far behind? Late last year, travel planning company Scout My Trip launched its camper van, built on top of a Mahindra Scorpio Getaway, while Madhya Pradesh-based Pinnacle Vehicles offers vehicle conversion services to convert an existing vehicle into an RV.
LuxeCamper, however, claims it is the only Indian motor-home rental company which has an approval from the Automotive Research Association of India. With backers such as Anil Kumble, TaxiforSure founder Aprameya Radhakrishna and HomeLane founder Jawad Ayaz, it is also possibly the one with the deepest pockets.
The LuxeCamper packs in four seats, two queen beds, a fully functional kitchenette (with an induction stove, toaster, electric kettle, microwave oven, fridge and freezer) and a tiny dining area, a shower cubicle and incinerator toilet, Bluetooth music system, 2 smart TVs. Once parked, customers can make use of the van’s outdoor barbecue connection, an external shower, and a bicycle rack. Rooftop solar panels provide all the energy for powering the appliances and AC unit inside the van.
Some of the biggest design challenges arose from Indianising the traditional camper, says Ramesh, such as adding a health faucet in the toilet area. The van, designed by a German firm, has been made in India in collaboration with Ashok Leyland.
The company has tied up with homestays and lodges such as those run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, and is in the process of finding more camping spots. Once parked on their premises, guests can choose to cook their own meals or have them delivered by the resort via a built-in hatch on the vehicle’s body.
“Be prepared for people to come check out the van when you park somewhere. Indians are not used to seeing motorhomes, so they think a filmstar has arrived," says Ramesh.