Hyundai has applied for a patent on a new design it might use to convert vans into campers. Back in the 60’s, Volkswagen invented the camper van when it made a tent-like pop up opening in the roof of its Microbus. Suddenly, camping was transformed all across America. For the first time, people could drive to the mountains, the deserts, or the oceans and then sleep in their vehicles when they got there.
No motel bills, no overpriced restaurant food. The VW camper liberated people to go do their own thing. It may have led directly to Woodstock, free love, and the total breakdown of the button down American society. Owning one was almost as good as moving to California and becoming a surfer.
Fast forward 50 years to the Tesla Model X. This iconic vehicle features falcon wing doors that are hinged at the top and the middle. Unlike gullwing doors on early Mercedes, DeLoreans and Bricklins, they only need a foot of clearance to open and close. They make getting in and out of the second and third row seats simple and efficient. The Model X is the VW camper all grown up and given a makeover by House Beautiful.
Hyundai has a different idea. Why not keep the sliding door that defines a modern minivan but hinge the entire side of the vehicle so it permits easy access to everything aft of the front seats? Imagine a screened in enclosure underneath a solid roof. It could be the next thing in camping for the 99%. When there isn’t enough room to raise the entire side panel, the traditional sliding door would still be there for use in close quarters.
According to the Korean automaker’s patent application, the camping market is growing, and it believes this idea would appeal to customers. “Camping has evolved from a level of just sleeping outdoors to include a step of taking a rest outdoors, and therefore, camping equipment has also continuously evolved,” Hyundai states in the application.
In the UK, there is a company that specializes in converting Hyundai vans into campers. Volkswagen also offers a modern version of the camper van, complete with pop up tent roof, for Brits who are bitten by the outdoor bug. According to AutoBlog, Hyundai may be thinking about offering a similar vehicle in the American market. If so, it could do for today’s families what the VW camper did for them two generations ago.
Photo credits: Hyundai, Volkswagen