Mercedes and Rivian Could Build the Camper Vans of the Future

The companies are planning to explore "further options for increased synergies."

mercedes sprinter van on plant floor
Mercedes-Benz

Rivian launched with a strong overlanding and camping bent, which has led to super-capable off-roaders like the R1S and R1T and some nifty camping applications for them. Mercedes-Benz is also a big name in that space, with the Sprinter becoming the base vehicle of choice for custom camper vans. Both companies just announced they are joining forces to bring vans into the electric future.

Mercedes-Benz and Rivian announced a memorandum of understanding, which will yield a "strategic partnership and joint production of electric vans." Per the release, this will not be Mercedes using Rivian's platform; Mercedes will build EV vans on its Van.EA architecture and Rivian will use its RLV platform. But the agreement will see joint development for the vans to be "production-optimized" and capable of being built at the same facility — they also announced plans for a joint factory in Central/Eastern Europe.

Partnerships for EVs are becoming commonplace. Research and development costs are high as the new powertrains can't draw on a century-plus of combustion engine research. And on paper, pairing Rivian's engineering ingenuity with Mercedes-Benz's nearly 100 years of experience building quality cars should be a fruitful partnership.

Will this lead to some sweet off-road-capable electric camper vans or OEM accessories? It's not clear yet. The announced move is aimed at the commercial market; converting delivery fleets to battery-electric power is both important environmentally and a huge profit opportunity.

But Mercedes-Benz and Rivian are well aware of how vans are customized for use in the outdoors sector and how massive a market that is. And their agreement does note the companies will explore "further options for increased synergies from the joint venture." At the very least, this agreement should help eventual electric Sprinters be cheaper and more readily available for those who want to convert them to camper vans.

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