- Custom camper-van conversion company Benchmark Vehicles created the Leithaus camper while business was booming during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The pop-top 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter camper van — built for a doctor — has two beds, a passenger bench that can turn into another bed, a kitchen, two tables, and a garage, to name a few elements.
- All of these premium bells and whistles bring the total cost of the van to $275,000, including the price of the 170-inch Sprinter chassis.
- Benchmark Vehicles expanded its floor space twice during the coronavirus pandemic to increase production output, Leland Gilmore, founder and owner of Benchmark Vehicles, told Business Insider in an email interview.
- Like many camper-van companies right now, Benchmark Vehicles has been so popular, the van conversion company is booked out for 2021 and already has a 30-person waitlist for its 2022 build schedule.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Custom camper-van conversion company Benchmark Vehicles created the Leithaus camper van on a 170-inch 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter while its business was booming during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Leithaus is only one example of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit-based custom camper vans Benchmark Vehicles can create. But unlike other Benchmark vans, the Leithaus has a pop-top roof, a vinyl wrap with extra exterior finishes, and several lounging and sleeping areas, according to Leland Gilmore, founder and owner of Benchmark Vehicles.
Like other camper-van conversion companies, Benchmark Vehicles saw a surge in public interest during the coronavirus pandemic, starting in May. Since then, the company's numbers have been incredible. According to Gilmore, the business boosted 300% in 2020 compared to 2019. And this growth has stayed resilient throughout the year: Benchmark went from a six-month lead time in June, to an 18-month lead time in October.
Read more: Ryan Murdock spent a decade in the semiconductor industry before amassing a real estate portfolio with 50 rental units. Here's why he's scooping up swaths of mobile homes after years of apartment investing.
To meet the demands of the camper-van boom that has rippled across the industry, Benchmark Vehicles had to expand its floor space twice during the coronavirus pandemic. However, every additional "build slot" the company posted as a result of its expansion has already been filled.
As a result, Benchmark Vehicles now has a fully booked 2021 schedule, as well as a potentially busy 2022.
"The waitlist for 2022 builds is already over 30 people long, even with the understanding that we will not be able to begin their build for a minimum of 18 months," Gilmore told Business Insider in an email interview.
This 30-person waitlist is already more than the company can accommodate in 2022, and it's the first time Benchmark has needed to keep a waitlist for new clients, according to Gilmore.
Source: Business InsiderMany of the company's customers also end up going back to Benchmark for a second or third camper van. Now, back to Leithaus, which has a price tag of $275,000 including the cost of the 170-inch four-by-four 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis. The build was officially completed in September for a doctor who wanted a camper to use while adventuring and spending time with his family, according to Gilmore. In total, the tiny home on wheels took about 4.5 months to complete during the coronavirus pandemic. To meet the doctor's requests, the Leithaus is off-grid and four-seasons capable and can sleep at least four people. The tiny home's four-seasons capability comes from its wool insulation, insulated window covers, heating system, air conditioner, and roof fan. In terms of the van's layout, the passenger bench seat, table, and shower are toward the front of the van … … while the kitchen space is squarely in the middle .... … and the bed platform, additional table, and cushioned seats are by the rear of the camper van. The van's sleeping spaces include a pop-top roof bed accessible with a ladder, and a removable bed platform with a memory foam mattress top. Leithaus's bed platform is elevated, making room for an under-bed garage. For extra slumber space, the passenger seat bench behind the driver’s seat can also convert into a bed. Storage throughout the camper van includes the aforementioned under-bed garage and cabinets, several of which can be found in the kitchen. Besides the cabinetry, the kitchen also has a cooktop, sink, and refrigerator for cooking on the road. Meals prepared in the kitchen can be eaten at one of the van's two tables. One tabletop is toward the front of the van by the passenger bench, and the second is located by the rear bed. The driver and front passenger seats can also swivel back to face the seat bench and table for a family meal.
Source: Benchmark VehiclesIf eating by the bed is more preferable, van occupants can sit on either side of the rear table atop two cushioned seats. A third cushion can also be added to replace the table, creating a longer rear lounge area.
Source: Benchmark VehiclesTo clean off after outdoor activities, the van is equipped with an exterior shower and an interior mudroom area with a hidden pop-up shower. The kitchen sink and showers' source water comes from the 35-gallon water tank and water-filtration system. All of these amenities are powered by Leithaus' 630-amp hour battery system, alternator, and 3,000-watt inverter. Leithaus' makers also roof mounted 300-watt solar panels for off-grid living. Like the interior, the four-by-four's exterior has a whole list of upgrades, including a skid plate, improved suspension package, and power steps for easier access into the tiny home on wheels. The camper also has a bike and ski rack to accommodate any outdoor toys. And that concludes the Leithaus tour!