Editor’s Note: The following story is authored by Julian Gothard of Examiner.com offering a first-hand report of the 2013 Caravan Salon currently running in Düsseldorf, Germany.
With over 570 international exhibitors the 2013 Caravan Salon, which opened in Düsseldorf, Germany last week, allows motorhome and trailer manufacturers from around the globe to showcase the latest trends in the recreational vehicle industry. Hosted by Messe Düsseldorf GmbH and sponsored by the German Caravanning Industry Association (CIVD) the trade fair attracts over 160,000 visitors every year and has rightfully taken its place in the vanguard of international RV trade shows.
Not only does the Caravan Salon provide the perfect venue to market new motorhome and travel trailer models but it also provides industry observers and RV enthusiasts with an insight into the possible shape of road trips to come. This year has proved no exception with a stunning prototype travel trailer, the Caravisio, manufactured by Germany’s Knaus Tabbert GmbH. With a fingerprint entry system, fully-controllable air suspension and a frosted glass sliding door leading to a drop down rear veranda, the Caravisio — which represents an attempt to arrest the decline in the European caravan market — certainly lives up to its billing as “the caravan of the future.”
Mercedes-Benz was well represented at this year’s show with tractor-trailer Actros-based Class A motorhomes from both Ketterer Spezialfahrzeuge AG while its $810,000 Continental Sports and Business motorhome boasts a two-car garage. In addition, motorhome manufacturer Concorde Reisemobile unveiled the colossal Centurion 1200. The show also featured several smaller truck-based offerings, including the Mercedes Zetros 2733-based overland expedition vehicle manufactured by Hartmann Spezialkarosserien GmbH.
Mercedes, who invited the international press corps to Düsseldorf for the launch of its revamped Sprinter van model range in May, but disappointed by not providing any test versions of Sprinter-based Class B or C motorhomes, made amends by debuting a Sprinter cutaway camper van model at the Caravan Salon. Based on the high-roof Sprinter, the RV features a stunning high-gloss white interior, including white leather seats, and incorporates five driver safety systems — Cross-Wind Assist, Proximity Warning Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and High Beam Assist — which will prove to be invaluable driver aids on RV road trips.
Mercedes also has a strong line-up in the camper van segment courtesy of Westphalia Mobil GmbH who offer the Marco Polo camper van conversion based on the Mercedes Viano. The storied German manufacturer also showcased camper van models on a number of different platforms including the $56,000 Amundsen 600 D (Fiat Ducato), the $63,000 Nugget (Ford Transit) and a new camper based on the diesel powered Peugeot Expert Tepee MPV.
Ford, Fiat and Mercedes all manufacture a companywide global van platform (Transit, Fiat Ducato/Ram Pro Master and Sprinter respectively) while Volkswagen has yet to announce whether it will be returning to the North American market with their T5 Transporter (previously marketed in the U.S. as the Eurovan). Both Hymer (Cape Town) and Westfalia (Club Joker), as well as VW (California) manufacture VW T5 camper van conversions. In addition, by virtue of the company’s majority shareholding in German truck maker MAN SE, Volkswagen also produce the chassis for some of the world’s best known expedition vehicles including the rugged Austrian-built MAN TGS-based Action Mobil Atacama 5800 and Unicat’s MAN TGA MXXL 24 AH 8×8 which were both on display at the show.
Other notable exhibits included Camp Runner Europe’s MINI branded Alpina DLX teardrop camper (dubbed the MINI Cowley), Ququq’s camping box that can convert an SUV or MPV into a motorhome in less than a minute — the kit contains a fold-out bed as well as a stove and sink — and a luxury Vario Mobil Perfect 1100SH RV outfitted with a 250-year-old interior wood trim and carrying a classic Morgan 3-wheeler in the rear car garage. According to Helmut Winkler, Director Caravan Salon, “such innovations and novelties are an essential part of the trade show,” which no doubt explains the shows continuing global popularity.