Europe’s largest RV builder, HYMER AG, is proceeding with plans to enter the U.S. recreational vehicle marketplace, based on the company’s own research and on the “awesome” reception its European-built products received last week in a test-marketing display at the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) 2013 Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa.
Roel L.W. Nizet, CEO and chairman of HYMER Group’s executive board, confirmed the decision in an interview with RVBUSINESS.com on behalf of the German conglomerate, a $1.7 billion company with annual sales of 47,000 units that distributes its products throughout 28 countries.
Nizet was dividing his time last week between the Tampa Show exhibit and the 2nd World RV Conference, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in downtown Tampa.
HYMER would become the first foreign — in this case European – manufacturer to bridge the gap to the States in a substantial way.
“It’s a very exciting deal for us,” says Nizet, whose company showed a handful of trailers in Tampa as well as Class A and B motorhomes, both of which were based on Fiat Ducato chassis, which Chrysler Group LLC reportedly plans on importing to the U.S. in the near future. “But it’s a necessity because, we (industry in general) are always talking about a global market. The RV industry should be a global market, and someone has to bridge it. So, we’re willing to be the first.”
HYMER currently builds 22,000 units a year in Europe on the Ducato.
While HYMER plans a gradual rollout of towable and motorized U.S. products – maybe two this year and two the next – the German firm is looking to finalize a joint venture manufacturing agreement with an American concern because the southern German company’s game plan does not include, with the exception of a few startup models, building inventory in Europe and shipping to the States.
So, joint venturing with a U.S. manufacturer is the only logical plan at this point for HYMER, which is headquartered in Bald Walsee with manufacturing currently located in nine German locations.
“Absolutely,” Nizet told RVBUSINESS.com. “We are not willing, let me say, to ship from Europe to America. Our intention is to make a sustainable business out of it. We simply want to be a local (U.S.) OEM with the quality level of Europe, of Germany. And we will stay in a niche, definitely. As I’ve mentioned previously, we want to be the iPhone with wheels – very innovative. And that’s our goal on a high level – not the cheapest, definitely. That’s our main goal.”
Nizet, who attended last year’s National RV Trade Show in Louisville, said HYMER would conceivably target 10% of the American market’s annual production.
“So, after the show we will keep the vehicles for three quarters of a year in the states,” said Nizet. “We’ll make a tour and show them during various occasions, dealer meetings and other RVIA occasions and then finally after this period we will collect all the feedback. We will take a look at what we have to do and then we will decide which products we will start with to sell in the U.S. market.
“Based on the feedback from the people here (in Tampa), we’ve already decided to start with two, probably three models which we will adapt to the American market, meeting 110 voltage, and we will adjust the gas to the American standard and we will ship over a couple of them so that we keep things moving so that we don’t have a (time) gap, let’s say, between this show and the expectations we have heard from the people coming here.”
Knaus Tabbert GmbH, a leading manufacturer of recreational vehicles in Europe, has modernized its Hungarian camper van plant in Nagyoroszi. In a construction period of only seven weeks a continuously conveying assembly line was developed that in the future is expected to process up to 2,500 vehicles per year. In combination with the simultaneously implemented Knaus Tabbert Production System (KTPS) the new camper van production plant, which at the end of October was officially opened with the complete staff attending, will reach a two-digit productivity increase already this year. “We are proud to set standards in European camper van production with these implemented measures,” said Michael Tregner, managing director of Knaus Tabbert GmbH, at the opening ceremony. The new Knaus BoxStar and Weinsberg CaraBus models for the first time are transported laterally along the assembly line one after the other over a continuous conveying system. At the same time the pre-assembly of technical modules and furniture components also was reorganized and arranged synchronously to the installation place at the assembly line. The strict separation of logistics and value creation thus made it possible to realise a continuously flowing process with minimum staff deployment. Every workplace furthermore is exactly adapted to the specific tasks with respect to timing, functionality, and ergonomics. The revamped facility also includes production-supporting logistics and stock-keeping in a full-length annex parallel to the existing assembly hall.
Organizers reported strong attendance for the recently completed Caravan Salon Düsseldorf 2012, confirming “the high level of interest in RVs and mobile homes,” according to a press release. The international event was held Aug. 25 to Sept. 2 at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany.
“With 164,900 visitors, Caravan Salon has fully met our expectations. We have achieved our targets and are happy with the results. We are especially pleased that so many knowledgeable visitors have come to Düsseldorf, thus ensuring high quality discussions,” said Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf.
Schäfer noted that the participation of visitors from abroad, despite the current market situation in Europe, included 24,000 international attendees from 38 countries. Visitors came from as far away as Australia, Brazil and Japan to get a first impression of the 2013 vehicle generation.
“Sixty-four percent of our visitors use Caravan Salon to get information on innovations and trends,” added Schäfer. The exhibition center’s Caravan Park registered 25,000 vehicles for overnight stays.
“Interest in caravanning continues to be high,” said Klaus Förtsch, president of the German Caravanning Industry Association (CIVD). “However, we noted a decrease in visitor attendance compared to 2011 and that our business deals fall slightly short of expectations. But the innovations presented at the exhibition have been received very well.”
According to Förtsch, the panel van segment and the entry-level segment of semi-integrated motorhomes continued to develop positively. In the towable sector, the focus shifted to smaller, compact vehicles due to their high level of comfort and equipment.
The majority of the exhibitors at Caravan Salon Düsseldorf 2012 were pleased with their participation. “This exhibition has clearly exceeded our expectations. The feedback is excellent, which in turn impacted our sales figures very favorably,” said Giovanni Marcon, CEO of Knaus Tabbert GmbH.
Manufacturers also gave the show a positive rating. Jörg Reithmeier, CEO of the Hymer brand, said that his company has fully achieved its targets, noting, “Visitors and customers feel a need for comprehensive and competent advice. We noted that the quality of our discussions increased yet again. But is it not only this interest – we are also very happy about our sales figures which even exceed the level of last year.”
Caravan Salon was also a success for the suppliers. “We can say that Caravan Salon continues to be the showcase of emotions and it has impressively underlined its high significance for the industry,” stated Joachim Kinscher, executive vice president of the Dometic Group. He added that the market in Germany continues to be in an excellent position.
Next year’s Caravan Salon Düsseldorf will be held in Düsseldorf, Germany from Aug. 30 (trade visitor and media day) to Sept. 8.
With the motto “Discover Your World,” visitors at CARAVAN SALON DÜSSELDORF 2012 will be presented with an extensive international lineup of products and equipment for mobile vacation by 570 exhibitors from around the world: RVs, mobile homes and caravans, basic vehicles, accessories and furnishing components as well as awnings/tents and travel destinations. The event will take place August 25-Sept. 2 (trade visitor day on Aug. 24) at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany.
According to a press release, the sector is experiencing a new upswing and the prospects for 2012 are bright. “CARAVAN SALON DÜSSELDORF is the trend barometer of the sector and we look to this year’s trade fair full of optimism. Mobile vacation is again enjoying great popularity and this year we will present numerous highlights in addition to many world innovations,” stated Project Director Helmut Winkler.
A total of 120 RV, caravan and mobile home brands will be represented and exhibit space demand was so high again this year that all halls are fully booked. Halls 9 to 12 as well as Hall 14, 16 and 17 will be reserved for vehicles ranging from small caravans and compact mobile homes for two people to family vehicles and luxury motorhomes. Hall 13 will be home to suppliers while Hall 15 will showcase both the tourism and accessories sections.
Reduced energy consumption, pioneering developments, lightweight design options and mobile homes with hybrid drive are the focus will be showcased with the return of the Green Caravanning presentation, which debuted in 2010. Equipped with the latest environment-technology components, the Green Motor Home will demonstrate how RVs can become more eco-friendly.
The exhibits will be complemented by a multi-faceted program, including the “caravanning design award: innovations for new mobility,” the vintage caravan exhibition and the “dream tours” presentation about RV travel in Namibia and South Africa, Latin America, the Baltic and East Prussia.
Many caravan enthusiasts will travel to CARAVAN SALON 2012 in their own vehicle and some 30,000 visitors will spend the night in their RVs or mobile homes at the Caravan Center. The large parking lot close to the fairgrounds offers more than 2,000 serviced and non-serviced slots.
From Aug. 31-Sept. 2, the hiking and trekking trade fair TourNatur 2012 will be held parallel with CARAVAN SALON. In Hall 1, more than 5,000 hiking destinations will be presented while Hall 2 will feature the latest hiking and trekking gear.
For further information on visiting or exhibiting at CARAVAN SALON 2012 or TourNatur 2012, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America, 150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL 60601. Telephone: (312) 781-5180; Fax: (312) 781-5188; E-mail: email@example.com; or visit http://www.mdna.com.
England-based Out & About Live, an online site dedicated to carvanning, has been offering product reports from the 2011 Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Products reviewed include:
• Developed after consultation with UK dealers, Hobby’s Siesta 65 UC offers a comfy rear U-shaped lounge in a low profile space. Ford’s trusty Transit provides motivation with 140-bhp engine an option. Unique features in the motorhome include a shower-creating sliding wall in the washroom and Hobby’s own fridge, the space-saving Slim Tower.
• Chausson’s ever-expanding Suite range gets another layout in the Relax. There’s the same Suite-signature island kitchen – with gas-on-glass hob – and lounge with drop-down roof bed upfront, but in the rear, a transverse fixed double adds night-time convenience. The Relax is 25 feet long and provides five berths.
• Adria launches a new layout for its stylish Sonic A-class motorhome. The I 700 ST provides a French double bed in the front and beyond that an across-the-rear washroom. There’s also a ‘ski’ wet locker in the offside rear corner, complete with drained floor. The I 700 ST comes in at 24 feet long, with euro prices starting at $90,420.
• Carthago’s latest C-line motorhome, the 5.8 XL is the first of the breed to sit on a tag-axle chassis. Fiat provides motivation, while the 27-foot body contains a sumptuous layout with large lounge upfront, ensuite and island bed in the rear. Value and luxury is Carthago’s aim with this model, as prices run from what seems a very reasonable $137, 789.