Enjoy the silence

Nick Harding plugs into the smooth, quiet Wellhouse Blighty E

Meet the very first ‘all-electric’ campervan to come out of the Wellhouse manufacturing and retail site on the edge of Barnsley, South Yorkshire. 

It’s based on the electrically-powered Vauxhall Vivaro-e (you can still have a standard diesel vehicle should you wish).

You’ll pay from £76,000 – that might sound expensive but currently you won’t have to pay any Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) or charges for clean air zones in the UK (check details with specific scheme operators prior to travel). Maintenance should be cheaper than a traditional vehicle, too, as there are simply fewer engine elements to wear and tear in an electric vehicle. 

Build quality – 88%

We tested the medium-wheelbase Vauxhall but Wellhouse also offers a long-wheelbase version (a Toyota Proace-based option is also available in medium-wheelbase form only). Conversion extras fitted here are: roof bed (£600); safe (£200); external shower (£200), exterior 230V socket (£150); two floor lashing points (£35); towbar and electrics (£650); roof rails and crossbars (£425); Thule awning (£850); Autowatch tracker (£150); and Diamondbrite paintwork protection (£300).

Driving – 89%

It’s super smooth and super quiet. Even the location of the batteries (under the floor) seems to help with the roadholding. Featuring Normal/Power and Eco modes, power is delivered differently than in a diesel-engined machine – it’s all instant, thanks to the single speed/gearless automatic transmission. Best figure of the lot is, of course, the 0g/km emissions number.

There’s a bit of wind/tyre noise but otherwise your progress is almost eerily quiet. It certainly allows you to enjoy the decent stereo system, part of what is a very well-equipped cab. You’ll notice you have a power meter in lieu of a rev counter and a battery charge level indicator rather than a fuel gauge. You also get front-wheel drive, all-round independent suspension, disc brakes to each wheel, hydraulic power-assisted steering, 17in alloy wheels etc. 

In terms of recharging, you’ll get back up to 80% in 30-45 mins if you have access to a 100kW charger. Vauxhall offers a choice of three wall-mounted, 7.4kW home charging systems for the Vivaro-e. Prices start at £589 for the most basic version. If you’re using standard mains, you’ll need to plug in overnight, at the very least. 

It’s not the biggest of cockpits, but there is rear seat travel for two. 

Daytime – 78%

Classic floorplan with a rear bench seat

It might be all excitingly electric, but the interior of the Blighty E is pure camper, albeit with modern styling and equipment. 

There is a classic floorplan of furniture unit along the offside and a rear bench seat that converts into a decent sized double bed (although floor space is a little limited when it’s all in place). Wellhouse offers a choice of six furniture finishes, two worktops and three floors – all at no additional cost – while the base vehicle comes in four different metallic paint jobs.

The seat unit is on rails and can be pushed far forward to optimise luggage space at the back, or right back to make the most of floor space when on-site. 

Both cab seats swivel easily enough. The only slight hassle is having to access the pedestal leg dining table via the tailgate – it stows on the back of the rear seat for safe travel.

Night-time – 78%

That lower bed is a decent size, at 6ft 2in x 3ft 10in. A roof bed (with ladder) is an option and, while you’re unlikely to want to use the Blighty E as a four-berth, a double bed up top gives you flexibility – and the extra daytime standing room it affords makes it worth considering. You could leave everything set up how you like it downstairs, and there’s floor space to use at night, for example. The roof itself is made to Wellhouse’s specification. Long straps plus a buckle travel catch help keep everything in place, and it’s all relatively easy to push up and pull back down again. The canvas includes side vents/mesh screens as well as an acrylic front window. 

Kitchen – 75%

There’s a gas hob, a standard-issue portable toilet and a decent size lower bed

Actually, this Blighty isn’t all-electric. There’s still a typical campervan two-burner hob and sink combination (on future models the hob will be supplied via a Gaslow refillable system). The compressor fridge has a 25-litre capacity.

Storage is at a bit of a premium, but there’s a good sized drawer over the fridge as well as a larger locker adjacent, although most of the space here is taken by the portable toilet.

Washroom – n/a

That portable toilet in the main locker is standard-issue. You might want to consider the outdoor shower attachment option, too. Other than that, your best bet is to take advantage of the excellent washroom facilities offered at most Club sites. 

Details – 79%

As you’d expect from a business of Wellhouse’s pedigree, there are lots of neat touches – everything from the insulated floor to the lockers over the kitchen to reading lamps with USB charging ports. As standard you also get an external gas point, solar panel, fresh and waste water tanks and more. 

Verdict – 81%

The future really is here, even if it is a rather expensive investment initially. And, of course, you’ll also be doing your bit to save the planet. 

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