Navistar Inc.’s influence was evident in Monaco RV LLC’s 2012 product rollout during the company’s Dealer Congress this week, as the world-class truck manufacturer continues to implement design, engineering and cultural changes since acquiring Coburg, Ore.-based Monaco in June of 2009.
With former Navistar board member and auto industry veteran Bill Osborne set to take over the reins on July 1, Monaco showed several 2012 motorhomes sporting a distinctive, truck-enhanced front end and grille design – first introduced a year ago on the 32-foot Vesta Class A – that creates a familial look throughout the motorized lineup.
“The things we are doing now are things we couldn’t even imagine before we became part of Navistar,” said Mike Snell, senior vice president of sales and product development, speaking during the general session of the June 20-22 event at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas. “And we are definitely doing things that no one else in the industry is doing.”
As a key example, Snell pointed to the “successful integration” of Navistar’s MaxxForce engines with Monaco RV’s Roadmaster chassis, representing the “first fully designed and integrated motorhome platform in the industry” in which engine, body and chassis are all manufactured by the same OEM.
Topping the 2012 product rollout was the debut of longer 35-foot floorplans in the diesel-powered Monaco Vesta and Holiday Rambler Trip Class A lines equipped with a second slideout, full walk-around bedroom and increased seating. Development of the new models was “designed in close conjunction with Navistar,” stated Snell.
On the gas side, Snell said the company had introduced a new entry-level coach in the Monaco LaPalma Class A line, featuring “the family design characteristics shared with the Vesta,” and a new floorplan in the Monarch Class A series offering a new bath-and-a-half layout.
Snell was quick to note that Monaco had also “recommitted” to its towable division.
“We have created an entirely separate towable division with its own product development and manufacturing team,” Snell said. “We brought in Keith Griffin and Dave Terry to head a separate management group for the towable division.”
Headlining the 2012 towable introductions was the return of R-Vision’s Trail Lite, featuring two new fifth-wheels and a travel trailer – all capable of being towed with half-ton trucks.
“Taking today’s economic times into consideration, R-Vision is going back to its roots and focusing on what made it successful – being the lightweight leader,” said Snell.
In the wood-and-aluminum sector, Monaco showed new sharply priced R-Vision Silver Creek and Holiday Rambler Traveler models offering entry-level, non-slide floorplans. “One 26-foot bunkhouse model will come fully loaded for under $10,000,” Snell noted.
Other highlights from the meeting included:
• An initiative offering Monaco parts sales online through Navistar’s parts distribution center at its home base in Chicago. “This is the first of a number of parts distribution centers where we will be shipping RV parts and accomplishing our fulfillment commitments to you,” said Snell.
• Newly introduced diesel products equipped with a first-in-class Bendix steering column that adjusts both up and down as well as offering telescoping capabilities. The column comes in through the dash, improving pedal and driver foot positions, giving motorhomes the look and feel of driving a luxury SUV.
• An integrated key system that not only starts the vehicle, but also unlocks bay doors, entry doors and other exterior access points.
• An RV savings rebate promotion designed to turn over dealers’ in-stock units with “no strings attached.”
• Significantly revamped websites to give brands a “whole new look and feel,” with the ultimate goal of providing greater product differentiation and focus on specific segments of the marketplace.