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Old 07-27-2020, 10:00 PM   #1
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Default Why are B+ Cheaper Than B?

Why are Sprinter/Transit class B+ cheaper than Sprinter/Transit class Bs? I'd think making the B+ body is more expensive than just buying the van.

Quick search turned up a few B+ at or under $80k and a bunch more under $90k but can't find a single Sprinter/Transit B at those prices.

http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2021...XGT-5013068355
http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2019...4CB-5007709975
http://www.rvusa.com/2021-forest-riv...lass-b-2788382
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:05 PM   #2
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Probably because with a B everything has to come in through the doors and fit the curved walls. A B+ is usually built from the inside out, an easier, cheaper process.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:11 PM   #3
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The construction is different with a cutaway chassis and built body in back so cheaper to do.


There really is not a B+ class as these are just small class C motorhomes with class C build style and quality. Many class C's are cheaper than class B's so no surprise about what I would call the C minus, not a B plus.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:42 PM   #4
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My theory is that B+s compete directly with Cs versus Bs which are standing alone in their class. Prices of Bs are jacked up by market willing to bear them. Bs sweet spot is for retired couples which is often visible in floor layouts and antiquated décor.

Comparing similar Bs prices in EU and US shows that some Bs can be much less expensive. There are differences between European Camper Vans and NA B class such as black tanks versus cassettes but that difference is just a couple hundred USD. Major differences are NA and Eu markets, NA market for retired couples and EU market for younger families. This trend could be changing, there are a few new camper vans in NA for young families such as Winnebago Solis, a well design camper van with good choices of down to earth components.

There are no doubts in my view that costs of manufacturing B+s are higher than B, costs, pass design and outer B+ shells phases, are similar for both. But shells for B+, similarly to some C are expensive. Many are large section of fiberglass molds, not cheap.

Prices are not equal to manufacturing costs; NA B class prices reflect market willing to pay.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KNCSPQ View Post
Why are Sprinter/Transit class B+ cheaper than Sprinter/Transit class Bs? I'd think making the B+ body is more expensive than just buying the van.

Quick search turned up a few B+ at or under $80k and a bunch more under $90k but can't find a single Sprinter/Transit B at those prices.

http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2021...XGT-5013068355
http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2019...4CB-5007709975
http://www.rvusa.com/2021-forest-riv...lass-b-2788382

Welcome to the forum KNCSPQ!


I've always likened it to when laptops computers came out. Smaller, yet more expensive than boxy desktops. As already pointed out, more difficult and slower to build than a boxy class c. Yet, some of it appears to me as a bit of marketing hype to jack up prices. Certainly "b's" are as expensive as a New York City penthouse on a square foot basis. And deals are hard to come by in this Covid-driven Seller's Market.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:56 PM   #6
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Well, I have no direct data. But I have been to the Winnebago factory, and have watched them cranking out Class Cs. It is quite a sight, and they certainly use assembly-line techniques that would not be possible with a B.
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:37 PM   #7
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Some actual EU data. See prices of Westfalia Camper Vans / Bs in UK. BP is 1.3 USD, and prices include VAT. https://www.campersales.co.uk/camper-guide/westfalia/

From low to high prices Amundsen, Columbus and Sven Hedin on MAN/VW.
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:33 AM   #8
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I suspect that labor and time are the big reasons. B+ interiors are built out before the walls are put on, which is much simpler and probably much faster than building inside the confines of a van chassis.
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Old 08-05-2020, 10:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeRa View Post
My theory is that B+s compete directly with Cs versus Bs which are standing alone in their class. Prices of Bs are jacked up by market willing to bear them. Bs sweet spot is for retired couples which is often visible in floor layouts and antiquated décor.

Comparing similar Bs prices in EU and US shows that some Bs can be much less expensive. There are differences between European Camper Vans and NA B class such as black tanks versus cassettes but that difference is just a couple hundred USD. Major differences are NA and Eu markets, NA market for retired couples and EU market for younger families. This trend could be changing, there are a few new camper vans in NA for young families such as Winnebago Solis, a well design camper van with good choices of down to earth components.

There are no doubts in my view that costs of manufacturing B+s are higher than B, costs, pass design and outer B+ shells phases, are similar for both. But shells for B+, similarly to some C are expensive. Many are large section of fiberglass molds, not cheap.

Prices are not equal to manufacturing costs; NA B class prices reflect market willing to pay.
George sums it up accurately I think. It's more about what buyer's are willing to pay than labor. Relatively low volume production means costs have to be recovered and profit made off fewer units.

Hymer Sunlights were built in 4 hours or less IIRC.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:14 PM   #10
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4 hours seems a little unrealistic...when I was a kid our class went to the local Chevrolet plant for a tour and I remember being told that a car came off the line every 59 seconds and, of course being a kid, I took the impression that it took 59 seconds to make a car, obviously not realistic. So, if 2 RVs came off the line every 8 hours it does not really mean that it took 4 hours to build...just sayin'
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:22 PM   #11
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If you haven't been there, I really think you guys are underestimating the scale and efficiency of the Winnebago Class-C line. It is a huge facility -- something like 8-parallel lines, with a bare chassis driven in on one end and a completed RV coming out the other. Whole sub-assemblies are dropped from above onto open platforms with flooring already installed. Workers ride along the moving line doing their thing. The unit is only enclosed near the end of the process. Quite a show and things move along apace.

I have not seen the B-van line, which is in a different facility, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as efficient. How much of a difference this makes in price, I cannot say.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:44 PM   #12
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There were claims that 10 Sunlight vans were produced daily -> https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...html#post54903

And a 2 hour build time -> https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...html#post77394

The point is that the higher price for B vans is more to do with what buyers are willing to pay and low volume production than an extraordinary amount of extra labor costing $20K or $30K being needed to assemble it.
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avanti View Post
If you haven't been there, I really think you guys are underestimating the scale and efficiency of the Winnebago Class-C line. It is a huge facility -- something like 8-parallel lines, with a bare chassis driven in on one end and a completed RV coming out the other. Whole sub-assemblies are dropped from above onto open platforms with flooring already installed. Workers ride along the moving line doing their thing. The unit is only enclosed near the end of the process. Quite a show and things move along apace.

I have not seen the B-van line, which is in a different facility, but I can't imagine it being anywhere near as efficient. How much of a difference this makes in price, I cannot say.

Lots of good in this post.


I haven't been through the Winnebago faciltiy, but have seen the facilities and factory floors in several class B and some trailer plants. I certainly look at factories in a different way than most would, as it was what I did for a living for decades, including audits or other manufacturing facilities to evaluate if they should be considered as vendors.



Those smaller builders we saw were very inefficient in how they went about things, even when you consider the small quantity limitations they worked under. Roadtrek in 2009 when we went through it was a prime example. It was certainly the type of place the consultants would say they could take 1/3 out of the building of the vans and they would actually be able to do it. I told DW on the way out that they would not survive in any actually competitive market where costs had to be more reasonable to be able to sell anything.


What Avanti describes is the heart of modern manufacturing. Build the subassemblies offline in as complete a way as possible, even buy them from vendors complet, so the finish line isn't getting held up with delays in any of the subs when built. Modularize the options so the main parts don't change, just the variable ones to simplify things. Balance the moving line times so nobody has to hurry excessively or have wasted time between units. Deliver the parts to work station presorted by van, as needed to reduce errors. It ain't rocket science, but it does take a lot of attention to the little things that can really much it up in the real world.


If a class C is scratch built in the shell like a B is in the body, they are going to cost similar to build, IMO. If you could open up a class be so a mostly complete interior could be dropped or slid in, the costs would get much closer to a well done class C.


It is good to see a bunch of new, and hopefully less old school, class b builders in the market now. Hopefully, they will improve the processes they use in designing them for easy manufacturing and then using best methods to do it on the shop floor. My bet is that even in low quantities, if the product is designed well to ease the assembly, major cost improvements can be had.



I have always wondered if the low pricing on the early Winnebago class Bs was just to get in the market, or if they were just better and keeping the costs in line. Now their pricing is up as they are well into the market, so if they were making money in the beginning, they are really making money now as the rest of the market is still holding the prices up overall and Winnie is pricing similarly.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:39 PM   #14
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A little different perspective for manufacturing with hard shell-like steel or fiberglass. Assembly can be done all from inside, or externally and brought in for connecting and mounting. Building modules externally could easily be automated reducing labor and improve quality of conversions.

I built my camper van primarily on a bench in the garage. All modules such as the sofa bed, galley, cassette toilet and sections of cabinetry were built in the garage and mounted in the van primarily to the existing threaded holes in the floor. Overhead cabinets required more work as they were mounted under the factory headliner but were fully built as modules in the garage. The electrical cabinet was completed on the bench before being plugged in mounted inside the van. The galley was completed in the garage including plumbing and electrical in the garage then mounted in the van. Plumbing in the galley had Cole Palmer quick disconnect, all wiring harness had automotive electrical connectors. A couple of years ago, I needed to add a front Lagun table so I removed the galley, it took 15 min to remove it. All under floor tanks were custom mounted on custom subframes.

Bigfoot, we had 21’ trailer. Similar to Bs inside manufacturing methodology, upper and lower fiberglass shells are assembled and all cabinetry is brought in from outside. Fiberglass molds have glassed anchor points for easy assembly. 17.5’ trailer is about - $40K.

Oliver, absolutely superior in the fiberglass trailers market, similar manufacturing to Bigfoot except double fiberglass walls with some glassed-in cabinet walls – 18.5’ is about $50K.

All 3 examples above are built into hard shells with preassembled outside modules.

Bigfoot and Oliver are complete RVs, have all appliances RVs have, so just imagine to make a sandwich of a stripped Bigfoot or Oliver from the frame, axles, wheels and placed on a Sprinter Cab Chassis. It would cost $40K for a Sprinter, $50K for an Oliver, $5K for bolts, $5K for fork service and assembly and a superior camper + van sandwich would cost $100K.

Since I built my van, I have the above thoughts forcing me to ask the question, why Bs are so expensive in North America, and my conclusion is that the market is willing to pay while seeking justification why is it OK to pay so much.

If I would be in charge of a conversion factory for Bs I would:
- Modularized all main components
- Automate external assembly and semi-automate inserting modules into vans
- Trash all staple guns.

During my professional life I hold once an engineering project manager job in charge of executing production line for print cartridges realizing the company dream to produce cartridges every few seconds. Only two automation companies were willing to sign the contract, one from Switzerland and one from US. And we did it, and we did it without staple guns.

The pictures show my way of simplified modules installation, mount and connect. Sofa bed assembly on the bench.
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:43 PM   #15
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Build out your own Class B and you'll wonder how they can make them so cheap.
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