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Chinese Bus Builder Confirms U.S. Plans

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July 27, 2010 by   5 Comments

Yutong Bus Co. buses await transport to their destination in Ghana.

Yutong Bus Co. buses await transport to their destination in Ghana.

Yutong Bus Co. Ltd., the largest manufacturer of commercial buses in China, expects to be selling Class A diesel pusher motorhomes in the U.S. by next spring, according to RV industry veteran Bill Horvath who is heading up the venture.

The yet-to-be named motorhome will be built in China and initially will be shipped to the West Coast for distribution, Horvath told RVBUSINESS.com today (July 27) from China.

Horvath said Yutong expects to build 150 to 200 motorhomes the first year — mostly using componentry manufactured in the U.S. — and ”hopefully double or triple that in the second year.”

”The Class A market is still a little unstable,” said Horvath, whose domestic industry experience dates back to Mallard Coach and Damon Corp. ”This fall will tell us what that segment of the market will be doing. This is quite a task when you put it in perspective.”

Yutong has invited RV industry suppliers to a breakfast meeting next Tuesday (Aug. 3) at the Ramada Inn in Elkhart to discuss particulars.

”This is a very fluid situation,” Horvath said. ”We want to talk to suppliers and listen to what they have to say.”

Initially, Yutong intended to convert buses it builds in China into motorhomes, Horvath said. ”But there were a couple of issues about weight, cost and certification of selling in the U.S.,” he said. ”We will buy some of the material in Elkhart, ship it here (to China) and then ship the unit back to the U.S.”

Ironically, he noted, many of the components used to build motorhomes in the U.S. already are manufactured in China to U.S. specifications.

Chinese delegation at 2009 National RV Show in Louisville, Ky.

Chinese delegation at 2009 National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

Yutong executives have been planning an entry into the U.S. market for two years and attended last year’s Louisville Show to gain a better perspective on the market.

The fiberglass-and-aluminum motorhome will be available on 28- to 30-foot floorplans on 22,000-pound GVWR chassis equipped with 250/280-hp Cummins or Navistar diesel engines. Retail pricing is not yet available.

The first Yutong’s motorhome ”will be mostly traditional as we go through a learning curve and minimize risk,” Horvath said. A second version already in the planning stages that will be available in late 2011 or early 2012 will be a little more experimental, he added.

Horvath said the specific chassis for the new motorhomes has not be selected yet. ”We are still working with chassis manufacturers,” he said. ”We believe the future will be for small motorhomes. You don’t need 45 feet of vehicle and six slideouts to enjoy the beauty and nature of the country.”

The manner in which Yutong’s motorhomes will be distributed also still needs to be determined. ”We may partner with someone in the United States,” Horvath said, adding that the coach initially will be available through West Coast dealerships and later throughout the country. ”It will be easier to penetrate the West Coast first,” he said.

Yutong will have a backlog of 20 to 40 units before they become available to dealers, he said. ”We will have to do some speculation to have some units in inventory, probably on the West Coast so that when dealers want it, it will be ready to go.”

While initial production will take place in China, ”that doesn’t mean that won’t change down the road,” said Horvath who will direct the initiative from offices in the Elkhart area. ”We aren’t going to rule out anything without doing all the homework first.”

The Yutong website (www.yutong.com) describes the firm as one of China’s top 500 companies, specializing in buses but also involved in construction machinery, automotive parts and components and real estate.

The company operates a 3.6 million-square-foot factory complex in China with a daily capacity of over 170 buses.

The website describes Yutong as ”the most technically advanced manufactur(er) of large and medium-sized buses around the world (and is) China’s largest professional bus manufacturer with sales volume ranked second worldwide next to that of Mercedes-Benz.”

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Comments

5 Responses to “Chinese Bus Builder Confirms U.S. Plans”

  1. Ralph on July 27th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Call the new RV…Som Ting Wong!

  2. Ed Rogerson on July 28th, 2010 8:39 am

    This should be greeted with dismay; the Chinese have destroyed many US
    Industries … look at the furniture business … with cheap/knock off if US products
    that also have been poor quality. for the consumer Lets not forget China is a comminist country. The Chinese will do to Elkhart area what they did to the High point area of NC, once the furniture capital of the world, now a virtually abandoned city. The Chinese are destroying us not by war .. but economically from within. Those who help them are no better than traitors.

  3. Steve Bibler on July 28th, 2010 9:37 am

    Thanks for your comments, Ed. We appreciate your support for the domestic RV industry. Please bear with us, however, as we continue to report on this breaking story.

  4. Eric Brophy on July 28th, 2010 1:45 pm

    I agree with Ed on a number of his points; however, I’m a bit unsympathetic to anyone on the OEM side decrying the intrusion of Chinese product(s). American RV OEMs use an abundance……if not a majority……of Chinese built components in their own rv models: the steel to produce the chassis, the screws, rivets, etc; the locking hardware, the list goes on and on. Are these Chinese components on the RVs because of their superior quality? Do the purchasing agents really prefer to have to wait for the boats to arrive in and products to clear customs? Let’s face it, they want the cheapest price they can get on their components, so their unit lands on the dealers’ lots at the lowest cost, with the highest margin. There’s no other way to say it: “If you complain about direct Chinese competition in the RV market, while at the same time are using Chinese made components in your RV, you’re a hypocrite.”
    I’ve been on both the OEM side and later the supplier’s side of the industry. The RV industry is notorius for dropping one supplier’s widget and replacing it with another’s widget, if it will save him/her a nickel. How many suppliers have gone out of business, or changed their business model to distribution over manufacturing, in order to address that trend?
    I can only what the comment boards will be like when the Chinese figure out a cost effective way ship complete trailers and fifth wheels over here on a large scale. You reap what you s0w, I suppose.

  5. Charles Bowling on July 30th, 2010 4:38 pm

    They can’t be any worse then Rv’s being manufactured by the American companys.My RV experience over the last 15 years have been a nightmare.From the first gas unit from Thor Industries in 1996 to my present unit, a 2004 Country Coach Inspire diesel pusher they have been a black hole to throw money and time into. If and when I can get rid of my present coach, I will be out of the RV allusion. Thank goodness Country Coach went belly up, now if their vendors would do the same..Good Luck China!

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