Domestic U.S. RV industry suppliers apparently have worked through any concerns they may have had over working with a new Chinese motorhome manufacturer, according to Bill Horvath, project manager for the motorhome division of Yutong Bus Co. Ltd., which plans to enter the U.S. market by next spring with the En Route Class A motorhome.
More than 50 vendors, including three chassis manufacturers, have submitted quotes, reports Horvath, who hosted a breakfast meeting in Elkhart, Ind., six weeks ago to help kick off the venture.
“I am very pleased by the vendor turnout, interest in our project and their support,” Horvath tells RVBUSINESS.com. “Elkhart County has the best suppliers for our industry and their interest and willingness to work with Yutong Bus is terrific.”
Horvath’s business plan calls for mostly U.S.-made components for the En Route, which will be assembled in China and then shipped back to the U.S., entering this country at Portland, Ore. The U.S. distribution site will be near Eugene, Ore.
Nailing down a chassis supplier is a major concern at this point. In his original presentation, Horvath said the fiberglass-and-aluminum En Route would be available in 28- to 30-foot lengths on a 22,000-pound GVWR chassis equipped with 250/280 hp Cummins or Navistar rear diesel engines.
While he received three chassis bids, only two are “close to the platform definition” he was looking for.
“We continue to work with the chassis manufacturers and are very close to having final specifications completed,” he noted. “I need this information in order to move forward. The chassis specifications are not yet confirmed and our chassis wish list may be slightly different based upon available designs and engines.”
Horvath hopes to have the chassis contract signed, with delivery to Yutong’s factory in Zhengzhou by October and, best case scenario, production beginning in November.
Horvath, meanwhile, is now able to provide some price targets for the En Route.
“Our targeted dealer cost for a fully loaded coach — including equipment and features not usually found on this size and price point — delivered to the West Coast is under $140,000,” Horvath informed RVBUSINESS.com in an e-mail. “My estimated bill of material will need to be confirmed after prototyping, and final pricing will be set at that time. It is critical that retail pricing be held to under $200,000 for a fully loaded version.
“At this point our specifications, equipment and features, and standards and option list have remained intact, except for possible chassis details,” he continued. “Until final chassis information is completed later this month, I will safely say we are 80% there with our wish list.”
Horvath is attending the Caravan Salon RV show, which runs through Sept. 5 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
“The Europeans are the best at creating and using every square inch (or centimeter if you will) of space,” wrote Horvath. “Their motorhomes are considerably smaller, but they have everything one needs to travel and camp in comfort. I believe their style of product is in the future for the U.S.A.”
Horvath, by the same token, said he envisions the “En Route” as a less boxy line with simplified feature selections and exterior paint jobs and fewer slideouts. Interiors will be soft on the eye and feature plenty of radius touches.
One part of a 4.5 million-square-foot complex Yutong Bus is to begin building this fall will dedicated to En Route manufacturing.
“We will move into our new facilities sometime in 2012,” added Horvath. “Initial production will start in what we refer to as the ‘old complex’ where specialty products are currently being built.”