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.
With 570 international exhibitors representing 120 caravan and mobile home brands, showcasing a total of approximately 1,800 recreational vehicles in all price ranges, this year’s Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany, is looking likely to deliver on its hyperbolic billing as “The No. 1 Trade Fair for Motorhomes and Caravans,” reports Caravan Times, a leading RV magazine published in the United Kingdom
The show opened with a press day today (Aug. 30) and closes on Sept. 8 in Halls 9-17 of the Dusseldorf Exhibition Center.
It seems impossible to provide an exhaustive list of all the excitement on offer in an event which is likely to provide the United Kingdom public with a taste of the future of caravan and motorhome engineering.
Some of the highlights, however, will include a highly anticipated cameo appearance from the futuristic Knaus Tabbert Caravisio.
The show will also see the unveiling of the Peugeot Westphalia van conversion, based on the existing Expert Teepee model.
What’s more, the British Isles will be represented by manufacturing giant Swift for the very first time, with a selection of Smart Construction caravans on display.
Director Helmut Winkler promises the continental caravan convention will offer the “largest selection centered on mobile leisure products worldwide.”
With plenty of innovative European designs, renowned for the relentless pursuit of compactness, versatility, aero-dynamic design and safety, the 2013 Caravan Salon could prove to be every bit as exciting as Helmut promises.
For those who combine their camping with more extreme hobbies, the second weekend of the show is organized to coincide with the hiking and trekking fair TourNatur, which will see 275 exhibitors representing a total of approximately 5,000 travel destinations.
Visitors who are newcomers to the world of caravanning will have an opportunity to test drive a motorhome or learn to tow a caravan at the outdoor area in front of Hall 4.
Younger members of the family will also not be neglected in terms of entertainment, with everything from face painting to an Adventure Camp set up in the open spaces of the venue.
The 50th anniversary staging of Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, Germany, was the busiest ever in the event’s history and exhibitors reported increase in sales, according to a news release.
“Registering 179,000 visitors, this year’s Caravan Salon has by far exceeded our expectations of over 160,000 visitors,” stated Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf. “And the internationality of the visitors was also very high again. Trade visitors came here from around the globe particularly to meet their business partners and gather information on innovations.”
He added, “This year, 62% of the visitors came with specific intentions to buy. This is particularly positive because Caravan Salon Dusseldorf is considered a barometer for the coming season. The positive response to this year’s Caravan Salon demonstrates the popularity of RVs for vacations, combining individuality and independence with environmental compatibility and activities in nature and at the same time this popularity reflects and benefits from current megatrends in society.”
A total of 571 exhibitors from 25 countries presented their latest RV and mobile homes models as well as equipment and accessories and travel destinations.
Klaus Förtsch, president of the German Caravanning Industry Association, was also extremely satisfied with the results of the trade fair.
“We have been pleasantly surprised by the high popularity of the event amongst visitors and their willingness to buy,” he said. “Traditionally, some 15% of annual sales are achieved at Caravan Salon and in the premium segment this figure is actually significantly higher. This is why this trade fair sends out an important signal.”
Already in the first six months of 2011, sales in the German RV sector increased by 27% to Euro 3.08 billion or $4.31 billion U.S.
“We consider the results of the trade fair clear proof of the continued avid interest in RVs as an integral part of vacationing. Both RVs and motorhomes in particular benefit from this. With the good results obtained at the trade fair, the 2010/2011 season draws to a very promising close,” added Förtsch.
This positive assessment was unanimously confirmed by the exhibitors of Caravan Salon 2011, who – without exception – reported strong interest and increased sales. Hermann Pfaff, Board Member at Hymer AG, noticed that the high demand at this year’s Caravan Salon motivated dealers for the autumn season while giving the manufacturers a boost for the coming season.
The exhibitors also praised the quality of the visitors and talks at the trade fair.
- “Visitors are well informed and know exactly what they want,” said Holger Siebert, general manager at Eura Mobil. “Our impression is that a certain reticence to buy which was felt last year has now disappeared because we have sold significantly more vehicles in all segments while registering less financing needs.”
- Giovanni Marcon, chairman of the board at Knaus Tabbert, also confirmed less discount negotiations and higher sales figures. “Sales volume overall increased considerably with a clear improvement in favor of mobile homes, without caravans suffering,” he said.
- Achim Sach, senior vice president at Alois Kober, noted strong interest by both visitors and the media in the hybrid concepts debuted at Caravan Salon 2011. According to Sach, visitors were interested in green technologies and were gathering information on future technology, models and prices. The company also had very good talks with international customers from throughout Europe.
In the tourism segment of Caravan Salon 2011, increased visitor numbers were also evident. Heidrun Müller, operator of the Campingpark Gitzenweiler Hof, was delighted with the noticeably increased demand over the previous year. “This year we had a striking number of new visitors primarily interested in planning their vacation for the next year. Some even made a last-minute decision to attend our beer festival in autumn,” he said.
The hiking trade fair TourNatur was again held concurrently with Caravan Salon. A total of 275 exhibitors showcased the latest hiking equipment and products to 41,000 attendees.
The next Caravan Salon will be held in Düsseldorf from Aug. 24 (trade visitor and media day) to Sep. 2, 2012. TourNatur will take place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.
For further information on visiting or exhibiting at Caravan Salon or TourNatur 2012, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America, 150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2920, Chicago, IL 60601. Telephone: (312) 781-5180; Fax: (312) 781-5188; E-mail: email@example.com; Visit our website http://www.mdna.com; Subscribe to our blog at http://blog.mdna.com; Follow us on twitter athttp://twitter.com/mdnachicago.
Attendance during the first five days of Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany, has exceeded promoters’ expectations, and more than half of the 120 towable and motorized exhibitors displaying product at the world’s largest consumer RV show are reporting sales higher than last year.
More good news for the global economy?
”We are pretty pleased. The trade show so far is very good,” said Christof Sambel, public relations manager for show sponsor Caravanning Industrie Verband e.V. (CIVD).
Sambel told RVBUSINESS.com that 106,000 people had passed through the gates at the sprawling Dusseldorf Fairgrounds through Wednesday at the huge show in which companies from 26 countries participate.
Caravan Salon ends Sunday with projected attendance for the 10-day show expected to exceed 160,000.
”Sixty percent of our members (exhibitors) said that their sales increased in the first five days,” Sambel said. ”And they tell us that small and middle-sized motorhomes and middle-sized and large caravans (towables) are selling the most. Those tendencies are pretty much what we have seen in the new vehicle registrations.”
While European RV manufacturers have long assembled motorhomes and travel trailers that generally are smaller and lighter than their U.S. counterparts, Caravan Salon this year is emphasizing ”green” RVing.
Of course, it’s all part of a global ”green” trend.
The ”green” highlight at Dusseldorf is a 10-year-old diesel-powered motorhome equipped with an LPG fuel cell, solar-energy system, energy-efficient refrigerator and stove, long-lasting LED lighting and a toilet with a ceramic inlay that uses very little water when flushed.
”A healthy environment is the natural basis for an RV vacation,” CIVD Director General Hans-Karl Sternberg said in a news release. ”For this reason our industry is working toward sensible handling of resources and ongoing optimization of its products in regards to environmental sustainability.”