Reflecting on the Metrivan Project

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

At the Caravan Salon RV show in Düsseldorf a few years ago, Marcia and I saw several multi-use campers that were popular in Europe. These campers could fit in a standard garage and be a family van during the week. But on the weekend, they could convert to a camper for six people by deploying a popup tent top and a camping module that included a water tank, sink, and propane cooktop. We thought this vehicle could meet the needs of Americans, too, whether for family camping or rugged outback trips for hikers, climbers, and bikers.

For the platform chassis, we selected the Mercedes-Benz Metris. We installed VB Air Suspension to improve the Metris suspension and applied our lithium battery capabilities to assure off-the-grid power. For the  popup tent top, we contracted with C.F. Maier, out of Germany. For the camping module, we selected Egoe Nest, a Czech company known for their innovative and high quality camping equipment. After meeting the Egoe Nest people at the Caravan Salon, we visited their facility in the Czech Republic and were further convinced that these were the folks we wanted to work with.

We started a new company called MetriVan LLC, bought six Metrises, and built a few test MetriVans with the popup tops and camping modules. These prototypes we loaned to several camping bloggers to receive their feedback and get the word out. All seemed like a go…

But our efforts were a failure. The MetriVan didn’t sell. Although we understand that vehicles like the MetriVan are selling in the northwest U.S., there wasn’t much interest east of the Mississippi. We sold our Metrises at cost and never got into full production. We just shipped our remaining camper popup tops to a company in the northwest. There’s one MetriVan left, a red “tailgate model” equipped with a rear pullout entertainment center.

We have five RO 710 camping modules for sale at cost. Each of these modules includes a water tank, sink, propane cooktop, and multiple drawers to house a cutting board, cooking/eating utensils, and plates and cups. These Nestboxes will fit in a Metris as well as some other vans and SUVs. Our price is $5,000, plus shipping. Please let us know if you’re interested.

Even with the best planning, excellent partners and design, the Metrivan didn’t sell. We gave it our best shot but in the end, we failed. We learned a lot from this experience and have applied some of our learning to make our successful Advanced-RV business more successful. We hope that our few Metrivan and Nest owners and Nest purchasers find travel joy from our liquidated products.

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