Fleetwood Rolls Out New Class A Diesel Chassis

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. introduced its second generation of Class A diesel chassis, the Power Bridge II, during the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show concluding today (Dec. 1) in Louisville, Ky.

According to a press release, the Power Bridge II chassis is the result of collaborative efforts between Fleetwood RV’s product development and engineering teams along with its parent company, Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc., in conjunction with modular chassis components from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.

“Because of our relationship and collaboration with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and our parent company, Allied Specialty Vehicles, we have leveraged collective experience and resources to design one of the best chassis available in the market today – one that is innovative, safe and reliable,” said John Draheim, CEO and president of Fleetwood RV.

Main attributes of the Power Bridge II chassis include a single point service center, which aids in serviceability by offering the customer a simplified single point of access to check and monitor fluids, and the use of huckbolts throughout that provide a permanent vibration-proof lock to combat high stress and maintain tension. In addition, the pass-through storage has been increased by 3% and a military-grade e-coat paint process is used, presenting a more durable finish and ultimate corrosion resistance.

“With more than 5,000 miles of most rigorous durability testing, the chassis is built with world class components such as Cummins diesel engines and Cummins Onan generators,” Draheim said. “To ensure a smooth ride, the Power Bridge II chassis includes custom shock valving, resulting in the smooth handling and luxurious ride which our customers have come to expect from Fleetwood RV.”

“We believe we’ve built a chassis that will provide the customer a truly enhanced driving experience,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing, Freightliner Custom Chassis. “We understand that our collective years of experience as leaders in the industry, coupled with our world class customer support, will result in a superior customer experience.”

With the introduction of the Power Bridge II, Fleetwood RV will be updating all Class A diesels with the new chassis.


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Freightliner Chassis Powered by Detroit Engine

December 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) introduced the FCCC SL Series motorhome chassis at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., featuring a powerful, fuel-efficient engine built by Detroit Diesel Corp.

“The FCCC SL Series chassis offers unmatched driver comfort and dependability and is the first Class A motorhome chassis to be equipped with the Detroit DD13 engine featuring BlueTec selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions technology,” said Bob Harbin, FCCC president, in a press release. Production on the FCCC SL Series chassis will begin in April 2012.

The DD13 is a 13-liter diesel engine offering 500-hp and 1,650 foot-pound torque for “maximum power and performance,” according to Freightliner, and is equipped with an Allison 4000 MH transmission. The DD13 blends power with a fuel-efficient design, integrating an amplified common rail system (ACRS) to optimize each injection event and improve fuel economy.

“FCCC wanted to bring its own heavy-duty engine to the RV market to serve a premium segment of our customers needing a chassis that is fuel-efficient yet powerful,” said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “Our partnership with our sister company, Detroit Diesel, allows FCCC to meet those needs, while also offering an exclusive product to the motorhome industry.”

The DD13 engine utilizes BlueTec SCR emissions technology, which is proven to meet long-term EPA 2010 emissions requirements by dramatically reducing nitrous oxide (NOx), particulate matter and fine particle emissions all while maximizing fuel efficiency, he explained.

The ribbed cast-iron engine block was specifically designed to reduce engine noise and vibration for a quiet, comfortable ride. The ACRS and an advanced cooling system minimize fuel consumption without sacrificing vehicle performance.

The DD13 also offers “Virtual Technician,” which integrates GPS technology with engine diagnostics. Should the “check engine” light come on in the RV, the data is sent to the Detroit customer support center. The information is then sent to the customer, along with a choice of authorized service outlets and the opportunity to schedule a repair. “Virtual Technician” also alerts the service outlet as to which parts are needed, shortening the wait time for the RV owner.

The FCCC SL Series offers a standard ZF independent front suspension handling a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of 14,600, 16,000, 18,000 and 20,000 pounds. The 18,000 and 20,000 GAWR suspensions include an assist steering cylinder to achieve a greater wheel cut and to reduce the steering effort needed by the driver. The FCCC SL Series also boasts an optional ZF ITAG independent tag axle with passive steer to improve the turning radius of the motorhome by up to 5% compared with a fixed tag axle, said Randall.

The chassis features up to a 60-degree wheel cut depending upon tire size, allowing drivers to maneuver through tight spots, including parking lots and inner-city travel. Bendix ADB22X air disc brakes, which boast a shorter stopping distance than traditional foundation drum brakes, come standard on the FCCC SL Series chassis. The Bendix VORAD Collision Warning System and SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) by Bendix CVS are optional.


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Freightliner to Debut High-Horsepower Chassis

October 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), Gaffney, S.C., will introduce a high-end tag-axle chassis with an engine new to the RV industry at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

”It’s going to be a high-horsepower chassis,” said Jonathan Randall, FCCC director of sales and marketing. ”It is going to be for high-end Class A coaches with a powertrain (engine) that people will be familiar with in the bus business or shell conversions.”

While declining to go too much into detail, Randall said the diesel-pusher platform will have a 54,000-pound GVWR, matching the highest rating of any of its current chassis, and it will be equipped with a 13-liter engine. A 16-liter version with higher GVWR already is in the planning stages, he said.

Currently, the highest-rated engine offered on a Freightliner tag-axle chassis is a Cummins ISL with 450 hp.

Also at the show, the Daimler Trucks North America LLC subsidiary expects to see more Class A pushers in 34-foot range built on Freightliner XC straight-rail chassis. ”It’s not really new, other than the straight-rail business had been pretty dead,” he said. ”But some manufactures are moving to down-sized pushers.”


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Report: Ford Will Invest $128M in Chassis Plant

October 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A proposed new contract between Ford Motor Co. and the United Autoworkers calls for the automaker to invest $128 million in its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake to build medium-duty trucks and motorhome chassis, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The newspaper credited people familiar with the negotiations as its source for the information about the contract.

Workers at the plant, which is in parts of Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake and Sheffield, currently builds the E-Series vans and E-series cutaway van chassis used by RV manufacturers in Class C motorhomes. The plant is currently on a two-week shutdown.

Ford announced in a news release this morning that it pledged to add 12,000 hourly jobs at its U.S. manufacturing plants by 2015 and invest $16 billion in its U.S. operations, including $6.2 billion for its plants as part of the proposed contract.

The tentative agreement must still win approval from rank-and-file union members across the United States before it goes into effect.

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Spartan Reports 2Q Loss, Details Realignment

July 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Charlotte, Mich.-based Spartan Motors Inc. today (July 26) announced operating results for its second quarter, reflecting actions taken to realign operations in response to the softened defense and motorhome markets, with continued investment in its emergency response and delivery and service markets.

Revenues were $99.4 million, down 14.1% compared to the same quarter of the prior year, driven by the overall economic climate and government budgetary constraints. Also contributing to the relative decline were increased prior year sales volumes related to emergency response orders placed in advance of the 2010 engine emissions change. These factors, combined with restructuring charges of $2.8 million and a product mix shift away from more profitable defense and service parts sales, resulted in a net loss of $2.2 million, or $0.07 per diluted share. The realignment is expected to reduce Spartan’s fixed costs by approximately $4.0 million on an annual basis. Exclusive of the one-time restructuring charges, adjusted net loss from continuing operations was $0.4 million, or $0.01 per diluted share.

Consolidated backlog improved 8% to $179.3 million over the first quarter of 2011, driven by order intake momentum in the delivery and service vehicle and emergency response chassis markets.

Second quarter highlights include:

• Net sales of $99.4 million (down 14.1% from Q2 2010)

• Adjusted gross margin of 14.6 percent of sales (down from 15.1% in Q2 2010)

• Adjusted operating expense of $15.3 million (down $0.2 million compared to Q2 2010)

• Restructuring charges of $1.8 million, net of tax, or $0.06 per diluted share

• Net loss of $2.2 million ($0.07 per diluted share), or adjusted net loss of $0.4 million ($0.01 per diluted share) before restructuring charges

• Cash from continuing operations of $8.4 million

• Ending consolidated backlog of $179.3 million (up 8% from Q1 2011)

• Total debt of $5.2 million

• Cash balance of $30.6 million (up $16.1 million from Q4 2010)

“While we anticipated another tough quarter, it was still a difficult experience,” said John Sztykiel, president and CEO of Spartan Motors. “The restructuring costs were not easy, but they were necessary to resize our cost structure and position us for future growth and profitability. The motorhome market continues to be soft, and defense orders have been curtailed significantly in response to government budgetary cuts. However, the emergency response market, while down compared to 2010, is showing improvement, with better-than-expected order intake resulting in a stepped-up production schedule for the second half of 2011. Our delivery and service vehicle market continued its momentum with a 73% sales improvement and nearly double the backlog compared to the same quarter in 2010. We are very excited about the opportunity in this market and pleased with its contribution to our diversified product portfolio.

“Clearly, we still have challenges in some of our markets and must continue to reduce our cost of doing business. The good news is that our backlog has been up for two consecutive quarters, and we expect the second half of 2011 to be better than the first.”

To view the entire report click here.

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Spartan Relocating RV Chassis Unit to Indiana

June 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Charlotte, Mich.-based Spartan Motors Inc., a manufacturer of specialty chassis and vehicles, will be relocating its motorhome chassis manufacturing operations to Wakarusa, Ind., from Michigan and creating up to 60 new jobs by the second half of 2012.

The company, which acquired Wakarusa-based Utilimaster Corp. in 2009, plans to invest an estimated $1.8 million on machinery, equipment, tooling and facilities, according to a press release.

“It’s becoming well-known that Indiana’s automotive and RV workers are some of the best in the world and Utilimaster’s expansion in Elkhart County is further validation of the strength and value of the Hoosier work force,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Spartan Motors acquired more than 550,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity in it purchase of Utilimaster. Operations consist of four manufacturing and 15 sub-assembly, support and paint plants. The company will continue to employ its existing work force of nearly 600 associates at this location.

“Eighty-two percent of all recreational vehicles are manufactured in Northern Indiana,” said John Sztykiel, president and CEO of Spartan Motors. “By moving production of RV chassis to Wakarusa, we can improve operational execution through alignment of strategic assets with the geographic location of our customer base. This initiative allows for effective and efficient collaboration with our customers, as well as reaffirms our commitment to the industry.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Spartan Motors up to $450,000 in performance-based tax credits and up to $75,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. Elkhart County will consider additional property tax abatement at the request of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County.

“John Forbes and team have been collaborative partners with the EDC of Elkhart County,” said Dorinda Heiden-Guss, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County. “We continue to see enhanced efficiencies and increased employment through their innovation. We are fortunate to have Utilimaster as a growing and expanding business in Elkhart County.”

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