The inside of the 2011 Itasca Ellipse motorhome on display this week in Redmond, Ore., looks like a living room.
On one wall, the coach has a sectional sofa and coffee table. A ceramic tile floor with granite inserts extends down the middle, and against the opposite wall sits a fireplace, lounge chair and computer desk.
“Looks like a small condo,” Mark McLaughlin, product trainer for Winnebago Industries Inc., which makes the Itasca line, told The Bulletin, Bend, Ore.
The layout on display at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center used the added space provided by the slideouts, the RV sections that pop out when it’s parked. As outfitted, it costs close to $345,000, said McLaughlin.
The 2011 Ellipse, new models from Monaco RV LLC, Entegra Coach and other manufacturers and motorhomes belonging to members of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) were among the expected 2,000 RVs filling the fairgrounds for the association’s annual convention.
It’s the fourth time the convention, which officially began Wednesday (Aug. 11) , has been held at the fairgrounds since 2001, and it’s expected to draw more than 6,000 people.
In the three years between this year’s show and the last convention in Redmond in 2007, the motorhome industry has traveled through tremendous turmoil, along with nearly every other industry.
From 2006 to 2009, shipments of all recreational vehicles fell about 58%, according to figures from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
In 2009, four manufacturers — Rexhall Industries Inc., Country Coach LLC, Monaco Coach Corp. and Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. — filed for bankruptcy.
Coburg-based Monaco, which owns the Beaver coach line once made in Bend, was acquired by Navistar International Corp. the same year, and is now Monaco RV LLC.
Through June of this year, however, production has been increasing, according to the RV association, and officials from motorcoach manufacturers and dealers expressed guarded optimism Wednesday at the convention.
New models, accessories and components were scheduled to be in the spotlight Wednesday night and today. FMCA members, however, also have many seminars, sightseeing tours and opportunities for socializing throughout the four-day event.
Some manufacturers featured new slimmed down, higher-mileage models, while others mentioned the certified green factories where their vehicles are made, and nearly all will be touting emissions-reducing technology that will help diesel-powered motor coaches meet new federal emissions regulations.
Monaco has its newest model, the Vesta, on display. Monaco and Navistar jointly developed the vehicle, which they unveiled July 29. The motorcoach is supposed to get 15 to 18 mpg, according to comments company officials made to RVBusiness magazine.
The Vesta, which will be made in 32- and 35-foot models, comes with cherry wood cabinetry, marblelike countertops and other high-end details usually only found in the larger coaches, said Pat Fraser, of Paul Evert’s RV Country, in Fresno, Calif.
“To get this kind of luxury, you usually have to go to a larger vehicle,” Fraser said.
Entegra’s Anthem 42-foot motorcoach has those details and more. It has 1 1/2 bathrooms, a full-size Whirlpool refrigerator, separate, stackable washer and dryer, a cedar-lined closet and four flat-screen televisions, one of which is on the exterior of the RV.
It’s located under a flip-up panel, part of an entertainment center that includes a stereo, speakers and, of course, the remote.
One of the newest features for many of the motorhomes is mostly hidden.
New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions guidelines call for reduced diesel-engine emissions, and different manufacturers meet them in different ways.
The system Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. has on display at the fairgrounds uses a catalytic-converter-like system that reduces vehicle emissions to only nitrogen and water, according to the company’s literature.
“It’s actually cleaner going out,” said Ken Nisley, of coach-maker Newmar, referring to the emissions, “than the air going in.”
The rally concludes Saturday.