Industry Innovations and Major Trends at the 2008 National RV Trade Show

Lighter Class A motorhomes that promise higher fuel mileage from Winnebago, Gulf Stream and Damon were among the major trends at the 46th Annual National RV Trade
Show December 2-4, 2008, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Winnebago introduced the new 25 1/2-foot front-engine diesel Winnebago Via/Itasca Reyo Class A, estimated to get 15 mpg on an
11,030-pound gvwr European-built Dodge Sprinter chassis, while similar mileage is
anticipated from Gulf Stream‘s 30-foot Montaj Class A on the 14,500-pound gvwr Ford
E-450 gas platform. Previously, the Sprinter had only been available for Class B or C motorhomes, and the Ford had only been available for Class C‘s. Winnebago‘s Via/Reyo was named “Best of Show” by MotorHome’s sister
publication, RVBusiness, with the Gulf Stream Montaj receiving an “Honorable Mention.” In addition, Damon‘s Avanti front-engine diesel Class A – built on a 16,000-pound gvwr Workhorse W16D chassis powered
by a 200-hp Navistar MaxxForce 5 V-6 – made its trade debut at the Louisville show.

“The
whole idea is to get better gas mileage,” said Dean Crane, Gulf Stream‘s director of public relations and training. “Everything is
becoming more lightweight.”

Besides Winnebago mounting a Class A motorhome on a Sprinter chassis for the first time, new Class C – including Jayco‘s Precept, Coachmen‘s Freelander and Forest River‘s Solera – were introduced on the Sprinter chassis that,
until three years ago, had only been available for van campers.

But those weren’t the only
motorhomes grabbing attention at the show. Winnebago and Fleetwood introduced concept Class A on Freighliner‘s new ecoFRED front diesel/electric hybrid rail that
promises to get better mileage by augmenting the diesel engine with an electric motor that
kicks in under load.

“From a product standpoint, we continue to innovate,” said Paul
Eskritt, President of Fleetwood RV Group. “We are spending resources to develop
technologies that we will be able to put into our products two to four years out.”

Winnebago also introduced a 33-foot Itasca Sunstar floorplan on the new
Workhorse 20,500-pound gvwr W20D front-engine diesel chassis, as did Four Winds
International, which also debuted the sleek 32-foot Serrano Class A on the W20D chassis. Holiday Rambler went lighter with the reinvented Aluma-Lite Class A on an 18,000-pound gvwr Ford gas-powered chassis, while Gulf Stream introduced the new Silver Bullet Class C to the 19,500-gvwr Dodge Ram 5500 cab chassis.

Other innovative
models for 2009 included the redesigned gas-powered Georgetown Class A series from Forest River; the addition of a
diesel-pusher floorplan to Tiffin’s entry-level Allegro lineup; the introduction of a new
top-of-the-line 45-foot Cornerstone diesel-pusher to Entegra Coach’s offerings; and the
Dynasty Class A diesel-pusher with a telescoping slide-within-a-slide from Monaco.

2052901_louisville_fleetwood_hybrid.jpgFleetwood Hybrid: Leading off the list of new models and rigs, Fleetwood‘s Hybrid Class A is mounted on the aforementioned
27,000-pound gvwr Freightliner ecoFRED front-engine diesel/electric hybrid concept chassis.
“We are collecting feedback from the public about their interest in this kind of vehicle,”
said David Coffin, Fleetwood’s director of product development and engineering. In an
initial test, Coffin reports, the 36-foot, triple-slide Fleetwood Hybrid got 19 percent
better fuel consumption than a traditional diesel motorhome. The chassis is powered by a
standard 300-hp Cummins ISB 6.7-l diesel engine that includes an Eaton automated manual
transmission equipped with an HEV electric motor. The system continually recharges 340-volt
lithium-ion batteries to power the electric motor and automatically selects diesel,
electric or both.

Product Review 2008 National RV Show Forest River SoleraForest River Solera:Class C motorhomes are often seen as leaders in the quest for better
mpg, and to that end, Forest River has introduced three 24-foot Solera Class C motorhomes
floorplans on an 11,030-pound gvwr Sprinter cab chassis. The Solera is expected to get
16-19 mpg from its 154-hp Mercedes-Benz 3.0-l V-6 turbocharged engine. “The Solera is
similar to our Sunseeker motorhome, but we wanted to take advantage of the higher-mileage
Sprinter chassis,” said Tim Graber, general manager of Forest River’s Sunseeker/Lexington
Class C division. The prototype Solera on display at the Louisville show had 7-foot
ceilings and ducted air conditioning and featured a single streetside flush-floor slideout
containing a booth dinette, along with a 67-cubic-foot rear storage compartment with
side-swinging doors large enough to store bikes or other sports gear. The Solera has an
msrp of $85,000.

Product Review 2008 National RV Show Four Wind SerranoFour Winds Serrano: Sleek styling was the order of the day
for Four Winds, which introduced its Serrano front-engine diesel Class A on
the new Workhorse W20D chassis powered by a 230-hp MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine. “It’s got
European styling, but it’s still an American motorhome with all the conveniences that
Americans have come to expect,” said Dana Simon, vice president of sales and marketing.
Available in two 32-foot floorplans with one or two slideouts, Serrano features 150 square
feet of pass-through rear storage – large enough to carry bikes and other equipment that
can also be accessed from beneath the rear bed. Amenities include an exterior TV,
contemporary lighting, radius cabinets, leather furniture and solid-surface countertops.
The Serrano’s base msrp is $130,000.

Product Review 2008 National RV Show Gulf Stream MontajGulf Stream Montaj: The 30-foot Class
A Montaj by Gulf Stream Coach is built on a 14,500-pound-rated Ford E-series
chassis – a platform previously reserved for Class C motorhomes. “It’s all about being lightweight, lightweight,
lightweight,” said Dean Crane, Gulf Stream’s director of public relations. Equipped
standard with a 255-hp 5.4-l Ford V-8 gas engine, Montaj will achieve up to an estimated 15
mpg. With either one or two slideouts, Montaj features a one-piece windshield and a
European-inspired interior with Thermopane acrylic windows, curved cabinets, twin beds that
swing down from over the cockpit and convertible J-couches. Cockpit seats swivel and slide
back toward the dash to meld with the living area. Though the unit we saw was a prototype,
look for Montaj to be available soon, at a base msrp of $111,986.

Holiday Rambler
Aluma-Lite:
Monaco Coach Corporation’s reinvented Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite is an affordable, low-profile Class A motorhome built on an 18,000-pound gvwr Ford or Workhorse
gas-powered chassis. The 31-foot Aluma-Lite floorplan unveiled at Louisville features
6-foot 10-inch ceilings, Corian kitchen countertops and a 22-foot full-wall slideout along
with a smaller bedroom slide. To increase aerodynamics, the Aluma-Lite’s roof is 14 1/2
inches lower than a traditional coach, resulting in 17 percent less front-cap surface area.
The aluminum-and-fiberglass Aluma-Lite has a 76-cubic-foot rear passenger-side storage
compartment suitable for storing bicycles and other equipment. The coach has a base msrp of
$91,959.

Holiday Rambler Augusta C-PLUS/Monaco Montclair C-PLUS: Seeking to
appeal to buyers looking for Class C motorhomes with high gross vehicle weight ratings, Monaco added
the Holiday Rambler Augusta/Monaco Montclair Class C motorhome on a
22,000-pound-rated Chevy 5500 cutaway chassis. Outfitted with convertible sofas and booth
dinettes along with queen beds in the rear bedroom and cabover, the Augusta/Montclair can
sleep up to eight people. The 36-foot two-slide floorplan features a streetside full-wall
slideout that extends the length of the coach, containing the dinette, sofa, dual-purpose
desk, large wardrobe and bedroom dresser. “We are a true Class A manufacturer, so you are
going to see Class A tendencies in these,” commented Ryan Lee, director of marketing.
Amenities include full-body paint, side-swinging storage doors, Corian countertops and
32-inch and 19-inch LCD TVs. Base msrp for the coach is $160,000.

Product Review 2008 National RV Show Jayco PreceptJayco
Precept:
If you’re looking for Class A styling in a Class C rig, look no further
than Jayco. The company has introduced the Precept, its first Class C motorhome on the popular high-mileage Sprinter chassis with a
gvwr of 11,030 pounds. The 25-foot Precept, powered by a 154-hp 3.0-l turbocharged V-6
diesel engine, is designed with molded front and rear caps, vacuum-bonded side walls and
one-piece polyethylene storage compartments. “There’s a lot of Class A styling,” said Paul
Gardner, Jayco’s director of product development. Standard features include a 3,200-watt
generator, backup camera and monitor, outdoor media center, 19-inch LCD TV, curved cabinets
and drawers and under-bed storage.

Product Review 2008 National RV Show Winnebago ViaWinnebago Via/Itasca Reyo: On the
cutting edge of a new wave of downsized motorhomes is Winnebago‘s new 2010 Class A Winnebago Via/Itasca Reyo motorhome on a
front-diesel Dodge Sprinter F-50 “cowl” chassis – a body-free version of the imported
Mercedes-Benz van chassis. The Sprinter is equipped with a 154-hp Mercedes-Benz 3.0-l
turbocharged V-6 diesel engine. The Via/Reyo has a 20-inch-deep streetside slideout and a
79 ¥ 40-inch “studio loft” that drops down from over the cockpit. The interior sports
laminated countertops, a two-burner stove, steel sinks and a large bathroom, complete with
an angled shower. The rear bedroom can be configured by the owner with either twin or queen
beds. The 25-foot European-inspired Via/Reyo is expected to be available later this year
and will carry a base msrp in the high $130,000 range. Keeping in mind the old saying about
necessity being the mother of invention, it was clear to those of us attending the
Louisville show that the changing market and needs of consumers has driven the industry to
come up with some its most creative and exciting innovations to date. It’s a trend we’re
happy to see carry us through 2009 and beyond.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here