Campervans enable amazing travel experiences and the ability to escape to remote destinations in a self-contained home with everything needed for comfort. But many of the challenges that accompany ownership can be non-starters for would-be adventurers. Storage, maintenance, and cost are a few unavoidable roadblocks which, for the average user (who won’t ever live in their vehicle full time), can make it difficult to justify getting behind the wheel. But a new LA-based campervan upfitter is aiming to change that.
Texino was founded in 2018 by Nick Devane after he experienced the freedom of a Volkswagon campervan. Devane traveled around California and Baja for multiple months and had a life-changing experience despite breakdowns and repairs on the road. At the time, no upfitter offered ongoing maintenance and mechanic work to keep clients on the road after the build, and Devane saw an opportunity.
Since getting started, Texino has stood out in a competitive market by offering more than campervan builds. They offer a one-stop-shop for purchasing and upfitting Mercedes vehicles (occasionally other makes as well) and can roll the build and vehicle cost into a single loan via a Mercedes financing plan. However, what makes Texino stand out from the other #VanLife startups is their “Share” program. In short, it’s a streamlined sharing economy approach to making campervan ownership more accessible.
Here’s how it works: owners purchase and have their vehicle upfitted; then Texino manages rental, storage, maintenance, and cleaning, while the owner holds the title and gets to use their vehicle half of the year. Texino and the vehicle owner split rental profits 50/50 (less management fees). It’s kind of like if your realtor coordinated your bank loan, renovated your home, and took care of AirBnbing it for you too. And because most RV owners only take their vehicles on a handful of trips a year, this model can help justify the steep price tag of a newly upfitted Sprinter (or Metris).
Although Texino offers an innovative model for campervan ownership and rental, there are still some limits to their current program. Texino is based in Los Angeles, and one-way rentals or pickup outside of the city will cost you extra. Texino’s rental and share platforms currently lack an app-based interface like Outdoorsy, which means you’ll have to click through their website to book your rental.
I began the process of booking a Mercedes Metris for a four-day Joshua tree trip with an estimated 400 miles covered. The price for this trip came out to $906. Because the Metris sleeps four, we divided this number by four passengers and again by four days, which came out to roughly $56 per person per day. Not a bad price for an all-in-one vehicle and adventure-ready home.
But what about the title-holding owner of this campervan? Assuming Texino rents your vehicle out for 180 days a year, that’s roughly $45,900. Out of that income, Texino takes 50 percent as well as management and cleaning fees. In the above scenario of 180 rental days, owners will earn less than $23,000 a year. With a vehicle and upfitting cost of $100K, it will take about five years of the Texino sharing program for your initial investment to be paid off (not taking into account interest). While the numbers above are assumptions based on some simple math and the information available on Texino’s website, they do make ownership appear to be more accessible and streamlined. And for the average owner who is looking for an out-of-the-box approach to owning a new, modern campervan, Texino’s Share program might just be the answer.