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Old 09-22-2012, 12:43 PM   #1
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Default New models and options

There has been a lot of buzz about new models that the manufacturers art turning out lately, and I thought it might be interesting to see what folks think about the "big picture", "out of the box", overall state of the Class B choices, now, past, and future.

I see Leisure and Great West gravitating to the higher end versions, with Leisure doing some very nice new things in their Sprinter B+ (really C) models.

The new Winnebago Era floor plan is better than the old, but still not a top player in our mind.

Airstream is Airstream.

Pleasure-way may be following Leisure with their new, sloooowly releasing small C.

Sportsmobile is sticking with their past stuff, it appears. I have always been a bit surprised that they didn't sell better, but they are hard to see in person, and do seem to have a utilitarian look to them that some folks may not like, and are not cheap.

The interesting one, in my mind is Roadtrek. At times it appears they are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Big jumps into different models, that are quite different from existing stuff. The Ideal, Ranger, Simplicity, Nissan, E-Trek, etc. Some have already gone away, like the Ideal. Product development is expensive, as is supporting and promoting all the models. Will they stumble upon a winner? Good question, but it sure has to be tough to hit a sweet spot in the ever changing market.

Before the recession, pretty much all the manufacturers were increasingly loading up models with expensive options, and drifting toward more seating and openness, apparently going for the upscale weekenders and tailgateers. During this period, Roadtrek did gain market share, but was it because of product offerings, or because the upscale crowd was buying on name status?

I like the Sportsmobile way of offering almost any option on any model built, but it does sometimes make them look like they were made out of individual pieces than an integrated design (because they were). Some of the ways they do things are also not my first choice.

I like the Roadtrek, particularly Chevy, floor plans and use of space. They also have pretty much all the things I would want in a B, but unfortunately, they are not all available on the same model.

I think it shows where this is heading----Give me Sportsmobile flexibility with Roadtreks more integrated design and option list. If Roadtrek (or someone else) did that possibility (and did it well), they might also learn what folks REALLY prefer in the mass produced models and be able to stop guessing.

Since I am more familiar with Roadtrek, I will list two versions that would be of interest to DW and me, based on how we use a B.

Option 1

Chevy based 190-6.0 engine
Aisle shower
Drop floor
Compressor frig
Quieter furnace
Full cabinet for 3rd seat, like in 2006, not add on
Cloth seats
Full time bed, clear underneath for storage
Generator
Stainless countertop
25 gallon underbody fresh water tank-no second tank inside to eat space
Speakers and antenna installed and wired, but no TV or amplifier
Full cabinetry, with non add on by the kitchen over the bed
3 coach batteries-combine old and new mountings to do
Macerator with emergency dump
Remote control, variable speed Fantastic fan
LED lighting for everything
No bumper covers
No aluminum wheels
Simplicity style side pods and running boards
Continental tire carrier
Microwave
Variable speed, quiet water pump
Large enough inverter to run microwave
At least 150 watts of solar
Air conditioning

The second option would be a further away from what is available now

Give us almost the same list as above, but in an Adventurous Sprinter style. Basically, it would be a change from the wider open, big bath, style, to an aisle shower, maximum utility and storage, version, on duals.

Implementing a special order, quick delivery, system is not easy. Just look at Sportsmobile's lead times. Dealers want to be able show and sell right on the spot, so standard models would still be needed, but i do think that many options could be switched to a dealer installed category, if designed for it. If the manufacturer had partial built units ready, and the options designed to be installed at the end, instead of during the main part of the assembly, I would think turn around time could be easily into weeks instead of months. If they also had the "fly and drive" option to pick up the van at the factory when your custom build was done, it might be very popular. The shipping costs would pretty much cover the cost of going to get it. We would have been all over a plan like that.

So how would all the rest of you do it if you were God of all class B's??
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: New models and options

Great post. I'll share some thoughts I have about Roadtrek.

What Roadtrek is doing might seem random but I think they are focused on growth.
See NAV Vehicles http://www.navvehicles.com
Quote:
NAV Vehicles is a new division of Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc. to distribute a new line of activity vehicles to Nissan dealers.
Roadtrek, with all their offerings, are hitting every price point now starting at around $60,000 discounted.

Some of their new "developments" look to me to purposely reduce long-term production costs. Eliminating the drop floor, propane, generators, stove vents, sky lights in some models all reduce costs. Roadtrek seems to understand that some people can't afford a $100,000 camper van but they still want a brand new vehicle. It is probably easier to finance a new vehicle also. It is clever of them to still find ways to make their RV fully functional but less expensive to build.

----------------------------------
Other thoughts:

The high-end or upscale marketplace does seem to be saturated with models now. That probably has to do with many retiring baby boomers demanding luxury. Cheap financing and extended financing terms also contribute to this. If someone gave me $150,000 to spend on any B van I wanted I don't know which one I'd pick. I'd probably spend quite a bit just traveling to look at all the offerings.

Niche market offerings like New West seem to be doing quite well and have a loyal following.
Safari Condo keeps coming out with new ideas.
Advanced RV's first unit must be just about ready to make its debut.

-------------------------------------

Some ideas I have for a B van:

Diesel for good MPG.
Stand up shower but not in the aisle. Make that space multi-purpsose by the end user such as an easily removable garbage and recyclable bins or wet or dry hanging space etc.
Flat floor, no carpet.
200 watts or more solar.
Small, quiet generator, for charging only, like the EFOY but running on the same fuel as the van.
Diesel fired heat and hot water.
Auxiliary diesel fuel tank for extended use.
Large capacity maintenance free battery bank.
Large capacity pure sine wave inverter.
Durable interior so that I can bring home building supplies like decking or plywood or put a couple of mountain bikes inside and not have to worry about marring fine interior finishes.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: New models and options

Quote:
Small, quiet generator, for charging only, like the EFOY but running on the same fuel as the van.
Maybe not diesel but if you are still using propane there is a new fuel cell system supposedly coming out that runs off it instead of methane. If you are going to have propane for your grill and possibly a 3-way fridge then this might be an option in the future and not have to introduce yet another fuel. Propane is available everywhere.

http://www.protonex.com/recreation/rv-power.aspx

The diesel hydronic heating and hot water systems are already being installed in Great West Vans. They work great and they are much quieter than the propane furnaces.
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: New models and options

Glad Marcopolo mentioned Safari Condo. Sure wish we could get them in the US. Next summer we are planning a fall trip along the Canada side of the Great Lakes to Nova Scotia, then back into the US and down the coast. We are eagerly planning a stop at Safari Condo to see their stuff in person on that trip.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: New models and options

Customers from the U.S. can have a new Safari Condo built but they have to first arrange the supply of a U.S. regulations compliant van to Safari Condo in Canada.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: New models and options

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Customers from the U.S. can have a new Safari Condo built but they have to first arrange the supply of a U.S. regulations compliant van to Safari Condo in Canada.
Interesting. We hadn't looked at the van availability, only the trailers, which folks haven't been able to get into the US. Just assumed the vans would be the same. That makes our trip to see them even more relevant.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: New models and options

They told me that when I visited the showroom this summer.
They come up with some interesting options.

Photo of a pre-owned Safari Condo:



Rear slide, solar.........
Attached Images
File Type: jpg safari condo slide out.JPG (242.7 KB, 1779 views)
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: New models and options

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
They told me that when I visited the showroom this summer.
They come up with some interesting options.

Photo of a pre-owned Safari Condo:



Rear slide, solar.........
I just looked, the website says it now too. Also now true for the trailers. Very good thing!
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Old 09-25-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: New models and options

I've asked Mike at Advanced RV for an update. Their first unit must be just about ready. It'll be interesting to see.
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Old 09-26-2012, 04:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: New models and options

Good suggested configurations and equipment. I like them all, particularly the use of a non-methanol powered fuel cell (protonex), if that were the best way to create auxiliary power, and the full dual-purpose stand up dry/wet shower enclosure, and the quieter 4KW generator to power A/C and M/W and quieter furnace (or other alternative cabin heating system). As for bedding, I can sleep on 2 inches of foam on the floor, as long as I can make a pot of coffee before I have a hot shower to start the day. The diesel engine option seems to be a good one for additional power generation, heating air and water and better mileage/engine longevity. I guess overall, I'd choose the options that would allow the longest dry camping options with the greatest flexibility for power and fuel sources to run the dry camping systems. The sleeping and comfort features would be a less critical secondary consideration (fancy bed/fit/finish), as well as the food/drinking water storage systems (compressor fridge partnered with solar power to keep it running). I would also rough in the entertainment capabilities like some travel trailers and leave it up to the owner to decide on what to add later. The base van would be a tougher choice. I might be convinced to choose a short wheelbase Sprinter/Ducato styled chassis to gain some interior height without drooping the floor, but the Chevy chassis with a better power plant would probably be my first choice, dropped floor and all, if it were available. The Admin's diesel powered Chev van seems like an ideal base to start to build on. And probably general maintenance on it will be less expensive than an import. Even Japanese and Korean imports are getting pricey to fix. I believe a Suzuki was the most expensive vehicle to repair in NA a few years back, because of the cost of getting replacement parts.
Of course all this for under $50,000 would be the best solution. Until that happens, I'm a 2002 RT C190P owner, with an occasional aftermarket mod or two for functionality or comfort (no fancy beds, though ).
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