Featuring an all-new platform from Spartan Chassis Inc., Jayco Inc. has entered the diesel pusher market with the introduction of the Embark, a moderately short Class A coach that represents a significant step for both companies.
With an MSRP between $275,000-$295,00, the Embark will debut with three floorplans between 37 and 39 feet long. The first configuration is the 37-foot, 11-inch long 37E, a quad-slide with a sticker price of about $275,000. A fourth floorplan was expected to be released in late 2018.
While many details were still to be determined at press time – the 37E is to be unveiled at a 2 p.m. joint press conference today (Jan. 16) at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa – each model will have a tried-and-true floorplan and, as a brand, the Embark will feature higher-end amenities such as Flexsteel furniture, Firefly VegaTouch coach control system, and ceramic tile.
Jayco Motorized General Manager Brion Brady acknowledged that the Embark represents a milestone for the Middlebury, Ind.-based subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc.
“Essentially we see it as a natural progression into the entry-level diesel pusher market – well, ‘entry level’ as far as we’re concerned – and we’re very excited about it,” Brady told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s a big deal for our dealer body, too. A large majority of our dealer base is Jayco-exclusive, and they’ve never had a diesel pusher to compete in their markets with. Now, it opens up a whole new market for both of us.”
“It’s also a big deal for that very loyal Jayco buyer who’s always wanted diesel pusher,” he continued. “It’s like our ‘Generations of Family Fun’ slogan. They start with a Jay Flight and now they can go from a Jay Flight all the way up to a diesel pusher. The Embark just fits nicely into our Jayco family.”
The Embark joins a Class A Jayco lineup that includes the Alante and Precept, both gas-powered brands on the Ford F-53 chassis. Also comparable is the Jayco Seneca, a “Super C” front-engine diesel based on Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s (FCCC) S2RV chassis.
The K1 360 chassis joins a Spartan lineup that includes the K2 450 (including single rear axle and rear tag axle versions), K3 500, K3 605 and K4 605. With the exception of the K4 605, which is found on the Realm by Foretravel Motorcoach in Nacogdoches, Texas, all Spartan chassis are the foundation for units produced by Entegra Coach – a division of Jayco – and Newmar Corp. in Nappanee, Ind.
Steve Guillaume, president of Spartan Specialty Vehicles and its chassis division, said the K1 360 is “a big deal” for the Charlotte, Mich.-based company.
“The key here is with the new K1 360 we’re expanding Spartan’s portfolio to the sub-400 horsepower category, which allows consumers and buyers of Class A motorhomes to be able to get a Spartan chassis on a Class A diesel motorhome at a lower price point,” Guillaume said. “And with that comes all of the key advantages of being a Spartan customer, including our full experience and engagement through the life cycle of the vehicle, the industry’s best ride and handling, best service and support through the life of the vehicle, as well as typically a better resale value that Spartan carries versus our competition. So, all those things bundled into a lower price point chassis should make Spartan more accessible to a broader audience of customers.”
Two years in development, the K1 360 features a Cummins B series 360-hp engine, offering 800 lb.-ft. of torque, mated with an Allison 3000 series transmission, which gives RVers essentially “an unlimited towing capacity,” Guillaume said, noting both features are a notch above typical offerings in this chassis segment.
As with Spartan’s other chassis, the K1 360 features independent front suspension with custom-tuned Bilstein monotube shocks as well as a Hendrickson Torque Box nontorque reactive suspension, which is designed to improve roll stability and reduce driveline wear and noise.
“And, similar to our other chassis, we have an easy access service center which locates all the common maintenance items – air dryer, air governor, power distribution, fuel filter, chassis batteries, master chassis disconnect, and so on – all in one convenient service point. That’s a differentiator versus our competition. We also have color-coded airlines and laser-etched wires for ease in serviceability, and then a driver’s side mounted DEF tank for ease of fueling,” Guillaume pointed out.
In addition, he mentioned, the K1 360 has a “campground-friendly cooling system” that includes an engine-modulated fan speed, which minimizes noise and dust kick-up and improves fuel economy, as well as stacked cores that reduce debris between cores for easier cleaning, and a metal surge tank – not plastic – conveniently located for ease of maintenance.
Guillaume noted that consumers owning a Spartan Chassis-equipped coach enjoy several customer service benefits including live support available 24/7; Spartan’s Connected Care mobile app that features pre-trip inspection checklists, service center locator, maintenance schedules and diagnostic codes; Spartan Academy RV owner training with in-depth chassis instruction, certified driving class, and available factory service; a three-year/50,000-mile transferable chassis warranty with complimentary roadside assistance through Coach-Net; a 20-year transferable frame warranty; and access to more than 280 authorized service centers whose technicians are specifically trained for motorhome repairs.
“We do have an alliance with Cummins Coach Care, so we’re their exclusive motorhome partner with Cummins and their Coach Care facilities,” Guillaume added. “And we’ve continued to expand our network to include motorhome dealers so that customers can get a ‘one-stop shop’ for their servicing needs – they don’t have to go to a separate dealer for the motorhome and one for the chassis – and we continue to expand on that front.”
Noting the K1 360 will be built by the same experienced employees alongside its other chassis, the bottom line on the K1 360, Guillaume said, is that it “offers a first step into the lower price point diesel so those customers and consumers who really understand and value the premium Spartan offering now have the ability to order a coach at a lower price point with that Spartan chassis.”
“The important thing for the industry to know,” he continued, “is Spartan has put renewed energy and focus in the motorhome space and is committed to growth and a full product portfolio of Class A diesel chassis. Beyond that, there is a renewed vigor and focus by Spartan in this space. We were the first tier over 30 years ago and we plan to be here moving forward over the long haul. We’re going continue to focus on growth, innovation and providing the highest quality Class A diesel in the industry.”