While Winnebago Industries, Inc. yesterday (April 30) unveiled an array of 2014 product lines at the Iowa-based company’s annual Dealer Days Event at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the most significant debut for some industry watchers was the unveiling of the first U.S. motorized RV built on Chrysler’s new 2014 Ram ProMaster van.
Winnebago’s new Class B is called the Travato.
The Ram ProMaster van, introduced early this year as an adaptation of the diminutive Italian Fiat Ducato platform, is the chassis of choice for European motorhome builders, and some industry observers have predicted that its entry into the U.S. market could signal a “sea change” in the RV chassis business.
Whether it amounts to that kind of impact or not, there’s really no question that the Class B and compact Class C motorhome markets are due for some changes with the entry of the Ram, the Ford Transit Van, an upgraded Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and other players like the Nissan NV. And it’s a sure bet that Winnebago’s 22-foot, front-wheel-drive Travato, part of a newly named Winnebago Touring Coach unit that also includes the Sprinter-based Era B-van, won’t be the last Ducato-based coach to surface in the U.S. RV market over the next year or two.
The Touring Coach line now joins the Winnebago and Itasca nameplates to make up the Iowa motorhome builder’s three motorized brands. “The Travato is a new fuel-efficient entry into the Class B market with fuel economy of 15-18 miles per gallon and represents another aggressive ‘industry first’ for Winnebago Industries,” the company stated in a press release.
The Ram ProMaster, on which production is to begin this fall in Mexico, is generally available with a 3.0-liter I-4 174-hp EcoDiesel or 280-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and is built in 90- or 101-inch roof heights as well as three (118-, 136- and 150-inch) wheelbases and four body lengths, including chassis cab and cutaway versions. Gross combined weight ratings (GCWR) range from 11,500 to 12,500 pounds.
“We are jumping on that (Ducato-type motorhome) and expanding our products beyond the Era with new brand names still coming,” Winnebago Product Manager Russ Garfin told RVBUSINESS.com. “That market is poised for growth because of the new chassis that are going to be available. There will be a lot more choices for customers. That market has been underserved for quite some time because there have not been the exciting chassis to go along with it, with the Ford and the Chevy pretty much being old-school cargo vans.”
Another Winnebago “game changer” unveiled at Vegas is the new Winnebago Forza and Itasca Solei Class A’s, adding a “full-featured luxury diesel pusher at an extremely attractive price.” Initially available in two floorplans, these companion lines are powered by 340 hp Cummins engines and feature large pass-through storage and upgraded appliances.
“It’s ‘Game On’ for Winnebago Industries,” said Scott Degnan, vice president of sales and product management for Winnebago, which handed out an array of dealer awards at Las Vegas. “We have changed up the roster with new and exciting products and our dealer partners were extremely enthusiastic in their response to the new lineup. We were No. 1 in motorhome retail sales in the U.S. for 2012, and with the new products we have unveiled this week, we see that momentum continuing.”
Also unveiled in Vegas:
• To expand on the successful launch of the affordable Winnebago Vista and Itasca Sunstar 26HE gas Class A’s, which generated notable sales last year, Winnebago has added a 31KE model designed for couples or families with a U-shaped dinette, mid-coach TV and walk-around queen bed.
• Winnebago has also extended the Winnebago Minnie Winnie and Itasca Spirit Class C lineup introduced last year with the new Minnie Winnie Premier and Spirit Silver models, providing upscale features and deluxe graphics.
• In addition to a new Premium Roadside Assistance program, 2014 SunnyBrook, Sunset Creek, and Remington towable buyers get new exterior styling while the new Remington XLT has painted wrap-around fiberglass front caps with blue LED accent lights, black-trimmed grey sidewalls and optional frameless windows.