Last week’s CMT show in Stuttgart, Germany put the spotlight on a highly versatile Volkswagen camper van. The Bett Mobil carries a sliding pod (reminiscent of the DoubleBack van) inside a versatile camper-in-a-box package. The Bett Mobil’s “second story” slide-out bedroom leaves cargo room below and is the key component of a fully modular camper package that turns the Volkswagen Multivan into a full-fledged camper, then removes completely to give the owner a standard van back.
Extendable pods are nothing new in the camper world. They can be found in everything from all-terrain, eight-wheeled expedition vehicles to compact camping trailers. Each new take on the extendable living module offers its own advantages, however. In the case of the Bett Mobil, the upper slide-out adds extra interior room while maintaining the classic Volkswagen camper van footprint. It also keeps some dedicated cargo space open for camping provisions, sports gear, etc.
The sliding, folding bed module fits neatly inside the tailgate and sets up in a matter of minutes. After sliding the unit out, one folds the side and rear walls out and secures them to the tailgate, which serves as the roof. The lower legs fold out to support the weight. This creates a 53.5 x 78.7-in (1,360 x 2,000-mm) interior bed that provides clear views outside via the large, openable rear window and rear windshield “skylight.” The lockable storage cabinet below the sliding module stores gear and tools.
The Bett Mobil’s sliding sleeping module is a natural extension of the Volkswagen Multivan base platform, which uses floor rails to offer interior flexibility. Bett Mobil capitalizes on this defining Multivan feature to make its camper package fully modular and customizable. The bed and storage modules already mentioned are secured to the vehicle by way of the floor rails, as are the kitchen and washroom modules.
The simple screw-in system allows the interior fixtures to be easily rearranged or removed completely. This set-up lets the owner create a campervan with up to four seats and remove the camping modules altogether, giving users a camper van for holidays and a regular people mover for the rest of the year. Bett Mobil says that it’ll take the owner about an hour to convert from camper back to regular van.
The wash area module includes a sink hooked up to a 20 l (5.3-US gal) fresh water tank, a 10 l waste water tank, a 50 l compressor fridge and a storage compartment for a camping toilet. The cooking module includes a canister stove and storage space for knives, utensils, pots and pans, and other cooking tools. An outdoor kitchen is available as an option, opening up room for four seats inside.
When compared to typical camper vans that use folding-seat beds, the Bett Mobil offers the advantage of keeping the seated living area intact while the bed is in use. Instead of converting the bed at breakfast, you can simply get up and sit down. On the downside, the space occupied by the sliding bed and under-bed cabinet eat up seating and cargo space more so than a convertible bed. The Bett Mobil has just a single rear seat in standard configuration, and adding a second rear bucket seat or a rear bench means leaving some of the camping equipment at home.
Rolf Hänle and his son David originally designed the Bett Mobil camper in 2009 as their own personal home away from home. They received interest about it everywhere they camped and traveled, so they decided to bring the design to market, testing the waters at last year’s Abenteuer Allrad show in Bad Kissingen, Germany, then bringing it to the larger 2015 CMT show
Bett Mobil sells its modules directly, not as complete vans. They perform the original installation, which requires a few professionally installed parts. After that, the package is designed to allow the owner to remove and reinstall the modules as desired. The bed module costs €7,900 (US$8,900), and a total camper package runs between €11,690 and €15,000, depending upon options selected.
The van can be equipped with a high Polyroof with integrated storage cabinetry or a pop-up roof with built-in bed. Though Bett Mobil’s hardware is designed around the Multivan, the company can equip it to the Comfortline, Highline, Pan Americana and California Beach models with a few additional modifications.