Dreaming of an eco campervan? An electric van hire business in the making!

To celebrate Earth Day this year, we wanted to shine a light on another one of our fantastic customers, a forward thinking entrepreneur, who came to us to convert an electric vehicle into an eco campervan.

Lewis Nyman, a User Experience designer and avid adventurer, sat down to tell us all about his green business plans to hire out his camper to other eco-conscious travellers.

Van Life Tales: Interview with Lewis Nyman

Check out the interview below 🙂 His ambitious plans to set up an eco campervan rental business are so exciting they’re sure to inspire you!

Hi Lewis! We’d love to know more about your travelling lifestyle?

I’ve been working remotely for 9 years. All I need to work is a laptop and wifi, so I’ve experimented over the years living in lots of different locations. For a few years I housesat full-time, working from other people’s homes looking after their pets, which I loved! I love looking after dogs but haven’t yet had a stable lifestyle to take on the commitment of owning one myself.

What inspired you to get a camper?

In late-2019, I decided a campervan would be a great investment to support the housesitting lifestyle. I could travel more easily from sit to sit, and in the gaps in between I could just live in the van instead of having to rent a hotel or Airbnb. I bought a lovely electric blue 2001 VW transporter called Arnie, but little did I know the pandemic was around the corner. In the preceding months all of the housesits I had lined up for the year were cancelled as people couldn’t travel, and lockdowns were introduced. 

I did manage to have a fantastic year in 2020, with a large thanks to Arnie. At the end of lockdown one a housesit came up in central Portugal, looking after thirteen dogs! And two cats. If you’re going to be isolated, why not somewhere lovely and sunny right? So my partner and I drove through France and Spain to Portugal. It was a trip with beautiful scenery, including camping out in a thunderstorm in the Pyrenees and staying at the top of a mountain surrounded by goats in Asturias.

We ended up travelling all over Portugal for 6 months, staying in the van for long portions and swimming in the many river swimming spots the Portuguese maintain so well.

What do you love most about van life?

The best thing about travelling and living in a campervan is sliding open the doors in the morning and taking in the beauty and stillness of nature in whatever spot you’ve parked up in.  Some of the views I’ve been treated to are priceless, I can’t imagine what they would cost if you have that view in a hotel.  Nature should be free and it should be for everyone.

Why is it important to you to have an environmentally-friendly van?

Being so close to nature is the best thing about staying in a campervan. The world is your garden. A patch of grass or sand is your doorstep. I really care about sustainability, and I see this eco campervan as an investment in the future. I can’t wait to offer people the opportunity to take trips in this van knowing that they are doing something positive to support the natural environment they enjoy off the beaten path.

You’ll be hiring out your campervan – can you tell us some more about your exciting business idea?

Modern electric vans still aren’t cheap. This van is a big investment for me, so initially I thought that renting it out would help justify the cost and help me pay off the debt I’ve taken on to make it happen.

But then I started to think bigger than that, why stop at one van? Electric campervans will one day be the new normal. What can I do to help speed up that process?

I’ve started a company called Wild Drives, and this first van, which I’ve named “Eve”, will be a test to find out as much as I can. Then I hope to grow the business from there, so we can help more people access sustainable campervan holidays in nature.

What are your goals for the future of the business?

There will be a lot to learn along the way! What problems will people encounter on the road in an electric camper and how can I make the experience from start to finish as smooth and easy as possible? This might be some people’s first experience with an electric vehicle, so I want to prepare them for the differences and ultimately ensure they have a great adventure.

One focus for me is on charging points, how do we make that experience of planning your route, stopping off, and waiting to charge stress free? The van model I’ve chosen has a max mileage of 205 miles and can charge from 0-80% in 40 minutes, which seems like a good amount of time for a toilet break, a snack, and a chance to stretch your legs.

After we get that right, the next goal is: how can we make charging a brilliant experience? I’m talking to campsites and other scenic public areas about getting high speed chargers installed, so travellers can stop off somewhere beautiful and charge up rather than a motorway service station. 

I think companies can make a really positive impact, with the right values and structure that allows people to contribute and do the right thing. I’m excited to see if Wild Drives can expand across the country and push the electric vehicle infrastructure to improve.

Thanks for chatting to us Lewis! Let’s catch up when your eco campervan is built!

Follow Wild Drives on Instagram to find out more!

At Love Campers, reducing our carbon footprint and building more environmentally friendly campervans is a constant work in progress for us. Increasing the number of electric van conversions we carry out is one way we’re hoping to make a difference.

Did you know that you can get a discount on the price of a brand new low-emission vehicle through the current “plugin” grant scheme ? Find out more on our electric vehicle guide.

If you’re thinking of buying an electric base vehicle and would like us to convert it for you please do get in touch before you purchase, as we haven’t worked on all the electric vans available on the market yet!

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