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2 former Silicon Valley executives are creating an off-grid, off-road capable $194,500 Ford Transit RV camper van — see inside

RV sales have never been stronger, and as COVID-19 cases continue to spike around the country, now seems like a great time to live off-grid on the road.

An AEONrv build.

Source: Insider

 

So it’s no wonder two former Silicon Valley executives have teamed up to create Aeonrv, a RV startup that specializes in 2021 Ford Transit-based tiny homes on wheels.

An AEONrv build on a dry field with a tree in the back.
An AEONrv build.




But unlike the everyday Transit camper van, Aeonrv is “bridging the gap” between camper vans and overlanding vehicles, Jim Ritchie, Aeonrv’s CEO and founder, Aeonrv, told Insider.

A dinette with cookies and tumblers on the table inside an AEONrv build.
Inside an AEONrv build.

According to Ritchie, the startup’s RV has several overlander-like capabilities at a “lower” price: $194,500, to be exact.

Someone driving an AEONrv build off-road among blue skies and a dry terrain.
An AEONrv build.

Like any startup, the genesis of Aeonrv starts with its founder finding a hole in the market.

Someone driving an AEONrv build off-road among blue skies and a dry terrain.
An AEONrv build.

Ritchie, who’s had a decades-long tech career in Silicon Valley, was always interested in the outdoors and small offroading RVs.

A man looking into an AEONrv build with a shower.
The entryway bathroom of an AEONrv build.

Initially, he never had any intentions of starting a RV company.

A man by a two burner stovetop inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.




But the more he searched for his ideal RV (specifically a larger van with four-wheel-drive, off-road capabilities), the more he realized there was nothing on the market that could fit his needs.

Someone driving an AEONrv build off-road among blue skies and a dry terrain.
An AEONrv build.

That’s when he decided to design his own custom fiberglass reinforced panel Transit van with the help of another company, Total Composites.

The exterior rear of an AEONrv build on a field of grass.
An AEONrv build.

“A lot of people said, ‘hey that’s a great idea. I’d buy that,'” Ritchie said, prompting him to begin seriously designing and building a prototype in August 2020.

A man by the refrigerator and freezer inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

The first prototype was then assembled about seven months later, and the company brought its van to the market in October.

A man moving the dinette table inside an AEONrv build.
The dinette table inside an AEONrv build.

Along the way, he recruited another tech friend with a background in yachts and fiberglass to become the CTO of Aeonrv.

The kitchen with a two-burner portable stovetop and bed inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen and bed inside an AEONrv build.




Together, since its debut, the company has hit over $3 million in pre-ordered vans, and has already begun building its first production units, Ritchie said.

Dinette seating in front of the refrigerator and a doorway into the front of the RV inside a AEONrv build.
Inside an AEONrv build.

It now plans to build 20 units by the end of 2022 in its Reno, Nevada factory, starting with the first seven units in the second-quarter of 2022.

The passenger seat inside a AEONrv build.
Inside an AEONrv build.

Ritchie predicts the company will sell all 20 units shortly into 2022: “We’re two-thirds through that number already … and we’ve got multiple tens of other people that I would call ‘hot leads.'”

In 2023, it’ll then produce 50 to 150 builds, but as a startup, “anything out past a year is really pie in the sky,” Ritchie said.

The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.
The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.

COVID-19 may have spiked the public’s interest in RVing, but this wasn’t Aeonrv’s motivation for creating the company.

An AEONrv build on dry hilly terrain.
An AEONrv build.

Aeonrv is looking to target consumers who would’ve either wanted a Winnebago Revel or Airstream Interstate 24X Touring Coach van, or an Earthcruiser overlander, all without the $200,000 to $750,000 price tag and potential “quality and design problems,” Ritchie said.

EarthCruiser EXP Dual Cab.
EarthCruiser EXP Dual Cab.




He believes Aeonrv’s biggest competitor is the Winnebago Ekko, but several of its early customers have been Winnebago Revel owners who wanted an “upgrade” …

A Winnebago Revel among birch trees with two people and a dog sitting outside.
A Winnebago Revel.

… or overlanding enthusiasts who didn’t want to pay for an expensive RV or take the time to build their own.

EarthCruiser EXP Dual Cab.
EarthCruiser EXP Dual Cab.

“One of our jokes is we give you 80% of an Earthroamer for 20% of the cost,” Ritchie said.

The kitchen with a sink, microwave, and stovetop inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

So far, its customers include a man in his late-20s who’s working remotely and a family with three children.

A man opening a storage unit inside an AEONrv build.
Storage inside an AEONrv build.

Of course, there are other off-road capable camper vans available on the market.

A roof with a skylight and solar panels on a AEONrv build
The roof of an AEONrv build.




But according to Ritchie, the fiberglass reinforced panels and extrusions and tech-forward amenities make the van stand out compared to its competitors.

A double burner cooktop and stairs by a bed inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen and bedroom inside an AEONrv build.

“I reached out to analysts that cover this industry to figure out what was going on in the market, and they were very interested in what we’re doing because they agreed the industry needed more innovation and different thinking,” Ritchie said.

A man opening a storage unit inside an AEONrv build.
Storage inside an AEONrv build.

Let’s take a look inside Aeonrv’s build based on the 2021 Ford all-wheel-drive Transit chassis to see if it’s worth the six-digit price tag.

The entrance into an AEONrv build with a shower
The entrance into an AEONrv build with a shower.

The interior is about 13.4 feet long and 6.7 feet tall and wide.

Two seats with a dining table in between with a plate of cookies and two tumblers inside a AEONrv build.
The dinette inside an AEONrv build.

The first “room” you see when you open the tiny home’s door is the dual bathroom and mudroom.

A man opening a medicine cabinet inside an AEONrv build.
The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.




This space has a medicine cabinet, a cassette toilet, a sink that can flip up to save room …

The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.
The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.

… and a shower that can be used both inside and outside the van, hence its location at the entryway.

A man holding a shower head outside of an AEONrv build.
The shower of an AEONrv build.

The build can sleep two adults and two children using the skylight-lined queen bed in the rear of the van …

A man opening skylight inside an AEONrv build in the bedroom.
The skylight in the bedroom inside an AEONrv build.

… and the convertible dinette bed.

A line of black cushions by the window as a man fixes the makeshift bed.
The dinette as a bed inside an AEONrv build.

This space also has an adjustable dinette table — which can turn into a standing desk — and outlets for remote workers who need to use it as a desk.

A man moving the dinette table inside an AEONrv build.
The dinette table inside an AEONrv build.




The kitchen sits across from this dining and workspace space, and has a refrigerator and freezer, a movable induction cooktop …

A man by the sink of the kitchen next to a two burner stovetop inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

… a sink, a countertop, and plenty of storage, like the pull-out pantry.

A man opening a pull-out pantry inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

Add-ons like an extra cooktop burner and a microwave come at an extra cost.

A man opening a storage unit with a microwave.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

Camper vans can sometimes lack ample storage space, but the Aeonrv build has several hidden storage units …

A pull-out storage unit inside a AEONrv build.
Inside an AEONrv build.

… including closets, overhead storage, pull-out drawers, and a heated garage with enough room to store bicycles.

A pull-out storage unit inside a AEONrv build.
Storage inside an AEONrv build.




There are several LED lights, an air conditioner, and a heater to keep the interior of the tiny home comfortable.

A man opening the refrigerator and freezer inside an AEONrv build.
The kitchen inside an AEONrv build.

Several of these features can also be controlled with an app …

A man opening a toilet inside an AEONrv build.
The bathroom inside an AEONrv build.

… which even has a “dog mode” that keeps the RV’s interior environment pet friendly if the owners aren’t “home,” according to Ritchie.

A man opening a storage unit inside an AEONrv build.
Storage inside an AEONrv build.

All of this is powered with an electrical system that includes batteries, an inverter, solar panels, and more. All of the electrical system’s details — and the van’s other features — are available on Aeonrv’s website.

Six Battle Born batteries inside a AEONrv build.
Batteries inside an AEONrv build.

Source: Aeonrv

 

Let’s head outside to look at the exterior of the van, which is lined with add-ons that make it off-road friendly. This includes all-terrain tires, a lift kit, and a differential skid plate.

The tires on an AEONrv build.
The tires on an AEONrv build.

All of this starts at $194,500, but if you’re interested in the van at its current price point, beware.

A close-up of the Transit 350 AWD emblem on a AEONrv build.
An AEONrv build.

Next year’s model will start at $204,500 due to inflation, according to Ritchie, putting it at a price point closer to competitors like Winnebago and Airstream.

The Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach driving down a road
The Airstream 2022 Interstate 24X Touring Coach.

Source: Winnebago, Insider

 

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