If a motorhome weighs 3.5 tonnes or less, there are many advantages when driving on the roads. However, to figure out if a “lightweight” motorhome is the right choice for you, you’re bound to want to know more than just that. Below you will find some useful information and detailed purchase advice for anyone who’s interested in buying motorhomes under 3500kg.
There are many different ways that the weight of your motorhome will have an impact on the way you are able to use it in practice. You only need a Category B driving licence for motorhomes under 3.5 tonnes, for example. The situation is different if a motorhome weighs between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes. In this case, you will need to hold at least a Category C1 driving licence.
Probably one of the most common reasons why people opt for A Class motorhomes under 3500kg is the fact that no additional driving licence is required. What’s more, the light weight of the motorhome also makes it easier to handle and manoeuvre in traffic. In Germany and some other countries, camper vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes are also treated the same as cars in terms of speed limits and overtaking restrictions.
To help you with your decision, we’ve summarised all of the pros and cons of lightweight motorhomes below:
A standard driving licence is all you need: In most countries, you can drive motorhomes under 3.5 tonnes with a standard driving licence for cars, i.e. a Category B driving licence.
Speed limits and overtaking restrictions the same as for cars: On motorways in Germany and almost all other countries, the same speed limit applies as for cars. When it comes to overtaking restrictions, your vehicle is also treated like a car.
Save on tolls: In a motorhome weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, you usually pay a lower toll than is often required for motorhomes over 3.5 t in Europe. In addition, a Go Box is not required and you do not need to pay a HGV levy.
Flexible travel: Camper vans and motorhomes under 3500kg are often more compact and manoeuvrable. It is therefore usually easier to manoeuvre the vehicle on narrow roads and in tight parking spaces.
Insurance and running costs often cheaper: Lighter motorhomes usually use less fuel and are therefore cheaper to run. The road tax and insurance premiums are also usually lower for lightweight motorhomes under 3500kg.
Longer intervals between inspections: In Germany, motorhomes under 3500kg need to be inspected as often as cars. Heavier models, however, must be inspected annually once they reach a certain age.
Travel anywhere: Roads that are closed to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will not stop you in your tracks. Motorhomes with a gross vehicle weight of under 3.5 tonnes therefore give you more options when it comes to planning your route.
Limited options: Camper vans under 3.5 tonnes often have less storage space than larger and heavier vehicles. You also need to pay close attention to the maximum weight when choosing optional extras.
Beware overloading: Exceeding the maximum gross vehicle weight as a result of overloading may pose a safety risk. Significant fines may also be imposed if you exceed the weight limits.
Compromises in terms of space: The limited amount of space means that you need to be well organised, especially on longer journeys with four people in a camper van or motorhome under 3500kg.
The challenge of bulky items: It can be more difficult to transport lots of sports equipment, heavy e-bikes or scooters in a lightweight motorhome.
Compromises on comfort in terms of self-sufficiency: The water tanks in lightweight motorhomes are often smaller than in heavier vehicles. Compromises may also need to be made in terms of the power supply if no extra batteries can be added due to the weight limits.
Before buying a HYMER motorhome, you should know exactly what makes up the weight of your vehicle. There are different things to consider with each option – you will discover that there are pros and cons to motorhomes that are under 3.5 tonnes, just as there are for those that are over.
Finding a wise balance between optional extras and the payload is especially important. The optional extras you select shouldn’t make it unnecessarily difficult to also transport your luggage, bikes and other equipment.
Whether you’re toying with the idea of buying a camper van, Class B+ RV or Class A motorhome, you should allow for a payload of at least 200 kg for two people, although 400 kg is ideal. If you’re travelling with four people, double these figures to make travelling more comfortable. You will find more information, important definitions and handy example calculations in our weight information.
We recommend weighing the fully loaded vehicle before embarking on any trip. By doing so, you can ensure that the actual weight doesn’t exceed the maximum gross vehicle weight and can hit the road with your driving licence for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes without a care in the world.
Scales for determining the actual weight can be found at motorhome dealerships, HGV repair shops, various TÜV or ADAC sites, as well as at scrap yards and waste disposal sites, for example. The best thing to do is to find out what the situation is in your local area.
Good to know: All of the vehicle and weight information in the HYMER configurator is designed to be as transparent as possible. The maximum authorised mass of optional extras is limited according to the minimum payload. If you exceed the specified value, the configurator will prompt you to make changes.
Although small RVs are available in lots of different designs and you can even find Class A motorhomes up to 3.5 t, there are situations when you should consider buying a heavier vehicle. This is especially true if comfort is important to you and you would prefer to have more space, a larger kitchen and a more spacious bathroom. For every inch of length added to the vehicle, the weight will increase accordingly.
Wanting to add more optional extras is also a legitimate reason to consider a heavier vehicle, because this will simply give you more play room without restricting the payload too much.
By the way: if you’re looking to buy a winter-proof motorhome, HYMER has models that have been purpose-built for trips to frosty regions as standard.
Other reasons to consider a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes might include:
When making your decision, you must bear in mind that things like overtaking restrictions, tolls and speed limits are different for motorhomes over 3.5 t. As mentioned above, you will also need an additional driving licence. If none of these things conflict with your travel preferences, a larger vehicle is an interesting option.
Note: A new EU directive is currently in the pipeline, which could affect the weight limits for driving licences. Its aim is to harmonise the rules that apply throughout Europe.
As a result of this, it is possible that you may soon be allowed to drive a motorhome up to 4.25 tonnes with a Category B driving licence. However, this is not yet certain (as of 31/03/2023).