Walking through a campsite at Collier State Park in south-central Oregon, I spotted something I hadn’t seen before: a Dodge Grand Caravan rental camper-van set up with a roof-top sleeper. Jucy…and if you’re from Australia or NZ, you will have heard of it, as that’s where it started.
Over there, Jucy does both car rentals as well as camper vans, using a variety of Japanese vans not available in the US. In the US, it’s strictly camper-vans, available from three locations (SF, LA, Los Vegas). And the vans are either from 2010 or 2012, and converted in 2012 or 2013, so presumably Jucy buys used vans, probably from the big rental fleets, and then converts them. Now if they’d just used some VW Routan vans, at least the logo on them would hark back to the Westfalia.
There’s a folding bed in the middle of the van for two, and another in the penthouse. And a stocked camp kitchen rides in the back, like a chuck wagon. That works, as long as the weather is good.
Cooking setup similar to a teardrop. Agree it only works in dry weather but that’s what add on canopies are for.
Most of them are rented in California, so rain is a limited risk (yeah, I know, too doggone limited of late . . . )
Yeah, I thought of that too. Oh wait, did I learn about those here? Anyway, the open tailgate would be something of a canopy on the minivan.
I like the concept, a camper van. During the week, you can use it for family, friends, maybe for business purposes. And then on weekends, you can take the family camping. Although hardly a new thing – VW did that with its Westphalia Campmobile and Vanagon from the 50s through to the 80s – it’s nice to see something new to continue the concept. If it comes from Australia, so much the better. 🙂
New Zealand company.
Really? New Zealand?
YES its a very innovative country also it has tariff free access to used JDM vehicles something Australia lacks, Kiwis are very inventive its our #8 wire DNA first with powered flight first to split the atom first to declare war on Germany in WW2 first for womens suffrage the list is long.
I’m sorry, but I thought that honour went to Australia.
..first ones were the narrow-body Estimas ..cheap as chips to buy here ..even more so now ..quite nice to drive ..easy to roll though
I’m surprised there isn’t an even rarer picture – YOU in an official campsite! Will need to check the Cohort, maybe someone posted it.
Interesting concept with the Jucy, seems like a good, fairly easy concept to do and looks to be entirely reversible. It’d be interesting if they commercialized it with SALES of the standalone items – topper bed unit, rear utility unit, and inside bed unit. There are millions of the vans around and if it could be installed relatively easily by a handy camper, that would even be better than rentals.
That’s because we were just walking through it; not staying there. Perish the though 🙂
This was just a one-day outing, but when we do camp in the Chinook, we manage to avoid campsites like the plague. Out here; there’s so much public land to just pull off anywhere.
I see these Juicy campers, and similar Escape vans, all over coastal California. They have become popular in recent years, usually driven by European visitors. Mostly minivan of various favors, plus full-sized Ford E series.
Woof! Neat idea but @$65 per night it’s a bit pricey.
Sounds like a good price to me. Renting just a van is hardly any cheaper, and it’s hard to find a hotel room that cheap in any place you’d want to be. Compared to renting a van and a place to stay its a great deal.
It goes up depending on the time of year.
I tried another 4 day stretch in September and it came out to $101 per day.
Is it? Depends on your perspective. If you’re from elsewhere, and want to explore the American West, you get two choices:
a] Rental car @ $35/day + hotels @ $50/night = $85
b] Jucy van @ $65/day + campground @ $10/night = $75
Since the camper van has its own cooking facilities, you can save on restaurant food as well. I wouldn’t call it “a bit pricey” at all. I’d say it’s more of a wash, and dependent on what sort of experience you want to have.
Good luck finding a decent campground at $10/night. Even the worst ones in popular destinations seem to be in the $30+ range.
True, but out West there are a ton of BLM and FWS campsites for $0/night, so it could balance out easily.
+1 There’s an endless supply of free camping places out in this part of the world, with so much National Forest or BLM land. We avoid campgrounds very effectively.
Hotels for $50 are also quite rare. If found, likely sketchy!
The catch with anything that looks even remotely like a camper is finding a place to park that’s not exorbitantly priced. Otherwise, you run the risk of being run out of wherever you’re parked and trying to snooze. Coupled with the rental price of the camper, it’s not too cost-effective versus simply driving a car (which would get much better fuel mileage, too) and finding a mid-level motel room every night.
With that in mind, there was a great Grand Caravan conversion company in Canada called Illusion. It had a pop-up roof and small stove/cabinets in the interior. Rather pricey (but those were Canadian dollars). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’re still in business (probably because Grand Caravan production is winding down) and it appears they only sold/rented in Canada.
The two biggest issues with covert minivan camping on the road is toilet facilities and HVAC, particularly when it’s hot at night. Keeping clean can be accomplished by using the myriad truck stop showers on the highways. Depending on what you want to spend, they can either be quite nice, on the same level as the aforementioned mid-level motel bathroom, or rather grungy (but a lot cheaper).
The A/C problem is trickier. Just about all RVs, even the smallest B-class, have a separate electrical/power system to operate a small, roof A/C unit. I’ve yet to figure out a way for some sort of small, similar system in a minivan.
Frankly, for anyone considering such an endeavor, the new, small cargo vans might be a good place to start, particularly since the Grand Caravan-based Ram C/V (cargo van) has been discontinued. Pity, because those C/Vs had a lot of nice features unavailable on stuff like the Ram Promaster City, Ford Transit Connect, and Nissan NV200.
“The catch with anything that looks even remotely like a camper is finding a place to park that’s not exorbitantly priced”
Every Walmart in the country practically beg RVs to stay overnight in their parking lots. Just because they think I’ll shop there in the morning doesn’t mean I can’t just use the facilities and hit the road. Saves a lot of hunting when the objective of the day is miles and a place to sleep.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen builds its own camper-vans since the introduction of the T5: the California.
If the California is too big, then there’s this.
I think I would have to sleep with my feet hanging out of the back window on that one! 🙂
Juicy vans tend to be Toyota Steamers here petrol models only bought cheap as JDM imports and converted.
A lot of local Juicy campers here are ex JDM Toyota Tarago/Previa variants. They all seem to be the narrow body version. Still beat those god awful Wicked vans!
+1 re the Wicked ones…
From what I can see on the website, that’s a pretty cool set up. I’ve long wished that someone would make a “Westy” Mopar minivan, I think I would spend the bux for one. I like the idea of a dual purpose van like that. I’ve flirted with the idea of a dedicated camper, but alas, I’m not a dedicated camper. A Westy or something similar would fill the bill, though. We have lots of nice places to camp around the Great Lakes and I would love to spend some time doing that.
Perfect, just enough to take you there and shelter you in basic fashion for a fixed time.
No disrespect intended but some folks happily shun organized campgrounds, hookups, public showers, grills, pedal-boats, and the big-screen TV equipped retirement-homes-on-wheels.
Mine was a DIY, minimally equipped Dodge RamVan Mark III conversion (w/optional extension cord!) and ideally parked as far away from other people as possible. Just cozy enough for two in the rain (plus small screenhouse.) Otherwise, to be outdoors.
I can’t swing the Sportsmobile 4×4 van just yet (maybe when I’m a crotchety old guy,) but I’m looking seriously at a T@B Teardrop next …well appointed, cozy and manageable!
One neat thing is that they will evidently let you rent them for $1 a day if you are going from a place where they have too many to a place where they need more and you can time it right. Pretty sweet deal if you are in the area and things line up.
Parents used to rent out their Winnebago 21 ft Brave to people they trusted. The post man, UPS driver, good friends, etc. It was self contained with generator and roof AC so campgrounds not needed. This was back in the ’70’s, have no idea what they were charging per day/week. I think when the postman was renting it a U joint broke and it dropped the driveshaft. They lost money on that one paying for tow and repairs. Of course today the cost of fuel is a big factor in total expenses vs hotel and dining expenses. They also wound avoid campgrounds like the plague, as would I when I had my self contained trailer.
The reality of things is that sleeping in my 95 Voyager for three weeks while going across country was better and not better than a Jucy Minivan at the same time. The cooking equipment would have been nice to have, but being able to sleep inside muffles the sounds of the truck stop noises and lessens the exhaust I had to deal with. Also, I felt safer sleeping inside the Minivan than on top of it, but I almost always slept at truck stops.
I will be the first to admit that I am not the target market for these, given that I have NEVER spent a single night outside of a building of some kind, and I’m over 50 (unless red-eye flights count!). I’ve occasionally considered renting a RV to experiment with the idea, but an onboard toilet would be mandatory.
We see a dozen Jucy’s a day here during the summer months.
Well, I thought I was looking at a photo from a fellow Kiwi for a moment…didn’t realise Jucy had expanded from here to the Other Hemisphere. From a marketing perspective, they’ve got a great foundation to expand though – distinctive name and distinctive colours.