Throughout The Car Industry
Ursa Minor's ECAMPER And The Disappearing Honda Element
For the last few years Ursa Minor Vehicles, a small company in Southern California, has built the ECAMPER. This niche after-market modification was designed to create a luxury camping environment, similar to the VW vans of yesterday. Unlike the old VWs, which required constant maintenance and MacGyver-like abilities to keep running, Ursa Minor banked on the reliability of Japanese engineering by using the Honda Element as a base vehicle. Yet, despite long term technical foresight, Honda quietly announced to discontinue the retro camping box in 2011.
Even so, the company plans to forge ahead and expects to succeed despite a dwindling supply of candidate Elements. In a January press release Ursa Minor’s founder stated, “if we built 10,000 a year, it would be some 30 years to finish the lot of them, which might be about when we can retire!” Of course, his plan isn’t exactly impossible.Consider the number of VW camping vans still being maintained and restored despite decades passing without a single new model being manufactured.
Because of the functionality and handsome looks of the ECAMPER it’s possible the vehicle’s fame might even increase once production of the Element ends. The camper features LED lighting, a sturdy 2” sleeping pad, cross ventilation, carbon fiber roofing, and marine-grade Sunbrella canvas as the tent walls. The sleeping pad is long enough and wide enough to fit two full grown adults. What’s more, there’s a power kill-switch in the interior of the vehicle to ensure the battery remains strong, even if you forget to turn off an LED after closing the camper top.
Ursa Minor claims adding the ECAMPER to your Element will not significantly impact gas mileage. However, all these features carry a heavy price. The base price for a 2011 ECAMPER is $4750, with several customization options which could push the price well over $6000. Additionally, customers are required to ship or deliver vehicles by their own expense. As long as patrons are willing to pay for quality building materials and wanderlust glory, the ECAMPER may yet endure despite Honda’s decision to cut the quirky Element.
Ursa Minor intends to display the ECAMPER and other new products at the Overland Expo in Armada, Arizona on April 1-3, an event perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and car buffs alike.
"To date, most of our customers already own an Element, or have bought a used one for conversion. The end of the production run is sad, but perhaps irrelevant to our camper conversions, which are themselves a piece of our fiberglass business. Even so, if one prefers converting a brand new Element, 2011 is the year to do it."
The 2011 Honda Element will be the final model year of production of the innovative and functional crossover utility vehicle, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. First introduced in concept form as the Honda Model X at the 2001 North American International Auto Show, the Element virtually created its own functional class and became an immediate favorite for small businesses, outdoor enthusiasts and pet owners. After a long life cycle, utility-seeking customers have more recently embraced other vehicles in the Honda lineup like the versatile and comfortable CR-V.
"The Element proved that ultimate functionality can often come from thinking inside the box," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "It made boxy vehicle designs cool, and Element owners continue to enjoy its unique styling and unmatched versatility."
Developed from the inside-out, the Honda Element entered new territory when it debuted during the 2003 model year by providing a multi-functional cargo area, innovative and versatile seating, a durable and dirt-friendly interior, energetic performance and outstanding value. Major upgrades were made through the years including more power and safety features in the 2007 model year. More recently, the Element embraced its long-held position as a pet-friendly vehicle by introducing the Dog Friendly Element accessory package in 2009.
More than 325,000 Elements have been sold in the United States since its introduction in December 2002.
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Posted In: Aftermarket, Car News, Miscellaneous, Technology
Tags: Honda, Element, Ursa Minor, ECAMPER, discontinue, camping, camper, camper top, price, quality
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