Thor Motor Coach is debuting a redesigned Windsport motorhome at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., along with the company’s all new HD-MAX full-color exterior graphics packages. The event opened Monday (Sept. 10) and runs through Saturday at the Giant Center.
According to a press release, the gas-powered Class A Windsport is currently in its 16th year of production. “With some much improved changes to modernize the Windsport, dealers and retail consumers are going to love what the new Windsport has to offer,” said Jon Krider, director of product planning at Thor Motor Coach.
The new front cap on the Windsport reveals aggressive headlight styling and large panoramic windshield while the rear cap is highlighted with vertical LED taillights. The coach’s interior ceiling height has been raised providing more living space and increased cabinet storage. The five available floorplans for the Windsport motorhomes start at 30 feet and extend up to 35 feet. The Windsport 35-foot 34E is also making its debut at this year’sshow, offering a rear bath plus an additional half-bath at mid-ship.
Along with new styling, the 2013 Windsport will sport Thor Motor Coach’s all-new HD-MAX exterior graphics packages. According to Thor, HD-MAX full-color exteriors cost thousands of dollars less than existing full-body paint schemes.
Thor Motor Coach will also be showing the new Windsport and HD-MAX exteriors at this year’s Thor Industries Open House at the RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., on Sept. 18-20. For additional information visit http://ThorMotorCoach.com/2012OpenHouse-HD-MAX.php.
Decatur, Ind.-based Fleetwood RV Inc. will unveil several new floorplans and innovative designs in its 2013 diesel and gas motorhome lines Sept. 18-20 during the Elkhart County RV Open House.
According to a press release, the company’s expansive 2013 product lineup “continues to showcase quality construction, reliability and innovative design.” Highlighting the rollout, Fleetwood will show all-new floorplans for its for top-selling Bounder, Bounder Classic, Southwind and Discovery.
Fleetwood is also launching two new floorplans for its innovative compact diesel pusher, the Excursion. The 35B and 35C both boast contemporary layouts and design throughout including a mid-coach Whirlpool 18-cubic foot residential refrigerator and wrap-around kitchen providing functionality and an abundant space for cooking and dining.
“We listened to feedback directly from our customers in creating these new floor plans and designs for our 2013 models,” said John Draheim, president and CEO of Fleetwood RV. “Our new floorplans feature contemporary designs that will resonate with savvy consumers and our sales team is excited for the opportunity to show the new designs to both current and potential dealers.”
Fleetwood’s nationwide sales team will be on hand to show the new product and conduct product training. The company said that dealers should contact their district sales manager to schedule times for exclusive training.
The Fleetwood RV Open House event will be located just 1 mile west of the RV/MH Hall of Fame on County Road 6 at Frederic Drive in Elkhart. The product display will be adjacent to the Burston Marketing building at 52950 Frederic Drive. Complimentary lunch will be served daily.
For more information on all Fleetwood RV products, call 1-800-322-8216 or visit www.fleetwoodrv.com.
Nappanee, Ind.-based Newmar Corp. announced today that during the recently completed Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) National Convention in Indianoplis, the company provide 72 attendees with test drives as part of its Comfort Drive Steering promotion.
According to a press release, participants were awarded $100 in free fuel once they completed a test drive and a survey.
“Comfort Drive Steering is an innovative feature that makes driving a Newmar diesel motorhome a much more comfortable and easy experience,” said Matt Miller, Newmar’s president. “Unlike a slideroom, however, Comfort Drive Steering can only be properly demonstrated during a thorough test drive. So we decided to allow our visitors to experience Comfort Drive Steering first hand at this event.”
The test drives conducted by Newmar personnel lasted about 40 minutes and covered roughly 23 miles. The course included secondary roads in addition to interstate roads conditions. Newmar made 80 test drive appointments available using four of its diesel motorhomes.
“I felt completely at ease driving the Dutch Star with Comfort Drive Steering,” commented Allen Polka from Comfort, Texas. “Driving the Newmar motorhome required me to place so much less pressure on the steering wheel to keep going straight or making a turn. It was like driving on auto pilot.”
Editor’s Note: The following is a blog from New York Times contributor Ezra Dyer offering a first-hand account of his experience driving a Winnebago Via on the family vacation.
After five minutes of wrestling with the electronic parking-meter station, I had my receipts to place beneath the windshield wiper. A roving meter maid would see that I had paid for my spot. And the spot next to it. And the one next to that, thus answering the question, “Where do you park a 25-foot Winnebago Via motor coach?” I’ll take spaces 113 through 115, thanks.
This year, the 2013 Via served as transportation for the annual family trip to the beach. We rented a house, but I figured the Winnebago in the driveway would serve as my oasis of solitude, a respite from the perpetual activity in the house. It also would serve as a sort of mega-sport utility vehicle, toting much of the luggage and assorted detritus to fill the six-bedroom rental.
At first blush, the Via seems unfathomably huge and ponderous; it may have only four seat belts, but its rear luggage compartment is bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. Within a couple of hours on the road, however, I was throwing it into corners like the overgrown Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van it was.
To read the entire article click here.
Fleetwood RV Inc. will unveil a chic new restyled exterior for its top-of-the-line 2013 American Heritage diesel pusher Class A motorhome featuring 20 LED lights in a redesigned front cap at the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 87th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase next week at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
The Decatur, Ind., company also will introduce a 36-foot, gas-powered Fleetwood Bounder Classic model that includes a full wall, street-side slideout at FMCA’s once-a-year national consumer gathering slated for Aug. 27-30 at the 250-acre fairgrounds on the city’s accessible north side.
In addition, 40 of Navistar Inc.’s Monaco and Holiday Rambler-brand motorhomes will be among the approximately 260 coaches on display at Indy – the first FMCA consumer convention to be held in the Hoosier State since Cincinnati-based FMCA staged a 1991 confab at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.
”That will be more coaches than we’ve had at recent conventions,” said FMCA President Jerry Yeatts, adding that some 2,500 towable and motorized family coaches with about 8,000 people are expected to show at the late August event.
Attendees, meanwhile, will also see a $1.7 million motorcoach at the Newell Coach Corp. display as well as Newmar Corp.’s 2013 Dutch Star diesel pusher that’s been significantly upgraded. ”The Dutch Star has a completely new look inside and out,” Newmar’s John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing for the Nappanee, Ind., manufacturer, tells RVBUSINESS.com.
Vendors offering RV accessories, components, supplies and campground information will display their wares inside Champions Hall.
While move-in days are Saturday and Sunday, a special preview of the motorhome exhibits will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the balance of the convention.
Gate price for non-members is $240 per RV, while members pay $190. Daily admission for exhibits is $7.00 per person with children admitted free with an accompanying adult. Individuals with an active military ID are also admitted free.
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Thor Motor Coach announces the launch of the 37GT to its Challenger line of premium gas-powered Class A motorhomes featuring an innovative, spacious kitchen design.
According to a press release, the 2013 Challenger 37GT model offers consumers an island kitchen with “massive countertop spaces.” Continuing the trend of modern design, the overhead storage throughout the kitchen is multi-functional with a wine rack that includes hanging glass storage.
The 38-foot Challenger 37GT has an elongated sofa with kick-up footrest along with swiveling captain’s chairs, all offering a great view of the hide-away, retractable 32-inch LCD TV. The free-standing buffet dinette provides a view of the campsite under the patio awning, while keeping the “open concept” throughout the coach.
Other features include:
• Hidden trash receptacle in island.
• Large sofa & recliner combo with hide-a-bed.
• Large walkthrough all-in-one bathroom.
• Dual vanities and full length mirror in bathroom.
• Large panoramic window across from kitchen.
Storage space is also the primary focus in the bath and bedroom areas that also offer his-and-her vanities, a full length “dressing” mirror and stackable washer/dryer prep as standards.
“The size of the kitchen sets this floorplan apart. It feels big and if you like to entertain, this is the coach for you,” said Joel Grimm, national sales manager for gas motorhomes.
Mark and Kimberly Clemens recently super-sized their cross-country trip to a July 4th family festival in Owensboro, Ky.
The Daily News, Los Angeles, reported that the couple traveled in their new 33-foot, tricked-out motorhome, which cost as much as a house in some of the towns they will pass through.
“The rig is performing really well,” said Mark Clemens, a 59-year-old Woodland Hills, Calif., insurance broker, in a phone interview during the trip at the Cracker Barrel in Kingman, Ariz. “I like it a lot. I like the freedom to kind of come and go. If you see a point of interest you can stop and check it out. You get to see a lot more than you do at 35,000 feet.”
The Clemenses had plenty of company at the campgrounds they visited along the way.
The RV sector is on the road to recovery, after being decimated by the recession, losing 260 dealers and three big manufacturers nationwide.
“We’re probably having the best year we’ve had in several years and we’re trying very hard,” said Bo Beaubrixey, general manager at the Camping World dealership in Valencia. “People want to use their RVs and go camping. All the campgrounds are full (this season). Even high gas prices are not stopping people from using their RVs.”
The store’s sales have increased between 25% and 30% from the recession low, Beaubrixey said. He declined to provide specific numbers.
After the economy tanked, people were still coming into the store looking to buy but could not get financing, he said.
Buying an RV is similar to buying a car, but banks want a 20% down payment and the payments are stretched over 10, 12, 15 or 20 years, Beaubrixey said.
This sector measures its strength in shipments of travel trailers and motor coaches from manufacturers to dealers. It has been on the upswing since 2009, said Phil Ingrassia, president of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Through the end of May, RV shipments increased 8.6% to 127,454, compared with 117,352 in the first five months of 2011, he said.
“It’s definitely on the rebound,” Ingrassia said. “RVs are a discretionary purchase. One of the things we look at is consumer sentiment. When consumer sentiment takes a dive, usually RV shipments drop as well.”
To read the entire article in the Daily News click here.
It’s estimated that every day 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age. According to a press release, that time is fast approaching for Mike Wendland.
Although Wendland has traveled extensively during a three-decade career in broadcast and print journalism, he recently decided that it was time to shift gears. Like many others, he opted to enjoy his journeys in a motorhome.
Wendland currently is traveling in a 22-foot Class B Roadtrek motorhome as a member of Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) motorhome owners club. He has combined his affection for motorhome travel with his skills as a journalist and technology buff to become FMCA’s new on-the-road reporter. His explorations are depicted in the “Open Mike” series of videos and blogs that recently debuted on www.FMCA.com.
“So many times, I remember looking down from 30,000 feet on some flight and longing to be down there, to experience the mountains and valleys and plains and coastlines,” he said. “I wanted to really be there, not just stand there and use the scenery as a backdrop to a standup before heading to the airport and another story somewhere else.”
Traveling with his wife, Jennifer, and Tai, their 65-pound Norwegian elkhound, the first “Open Mike” video posts focused on a visit to FMCA’s member-only campground in Cincinnati, Ohio; a trip around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and a stop in Grand Marais; installing LED lights in a motorhome; a look at the Superbag sleep system for RV beds; and a dramatic windstorm Mike experienced during a fuel stop in Findlay, Ohio.
FMCA.com visitors can look forward to the couple’s first true trip out West in August, where they will experience the Badlands of South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park, among other iconic sites, as well as cozy campgrounds and out-of-the-way discoveries.
Upon their return to the Midwest, they’ll stop at FMCA’s 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, which runs Aug. 27-30.
“We can’t wait to get started,” Mike said.
To follow the journey of FMCA’s new on-the-road RV reporter, visit http://www.fmca.com/openmike.
Motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. will hold its “Back Home in Indiana” national rally at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind., set to run June 27 through July 1.
According to a press release, the event will feature the official public debut of the Decatur, Ind.-based company’s 2013 product lineups, including the unveiling of two new floorplans for the Excursion brand, its Class A compact diesel pusher.
Activity highlights during the rally include:
• June 27 – Golf tournament.
• June 28 – Ladies tea with a local speaker and family game night.
• June 29 – Ice cream social and family movie night or karaoke.
• June 30 – Patriotic parade and picnic, and evening entertainment following dinner.
All Fleetwood motorhome owners, regardless of brand, are welcome to attend the event, which will include access to factory service support, informative seminars by key industry suppliers, kids activities and a variety of family-friendly entertainment.
For more information, including the complete activities schedule and how to register, visit http://www.fleetwoodrv.com/mhevent/.
Thor Motor Coach Inc. (TMC) announced the hiring of George Grimm to the position of southeast regional sales manager for Class A gas and Class C motorhomes.
According to a press release, for the past 13 years Grimm served as general manager for two well established RV dealerships in Florida. Previously, he logged 24 years in sales and management for the automotive industry.
“I’ve seen the appeal of Thor Motor Coach’s innovative products, and the industry leading customer service programs that make their products extremely desirable to retail buyers,” said Grimm. “I am extremely excited to be working for the No. 1 motorhome brand in the industry.”
“George’s understanding of the retail side of our business will allow him to have an immediate impact growing the TMC brands with our valued dealer partners,” stated Dana Simon, vice president of sales and marketing for Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Motor Coach.
Grimm will reside in Florida and can be contacted at (239) 707-0389 or GGrimm@TMCRV.com.
Negative news about jobs sent the markets nose-diving last week as the Labor Department said employers hired just 69,000 workers last month, less than half of what was expected.
Despite that negative news, Monaco RV is in the process of adding 250 new jobs at its plant in Wakarusa, Ind., according to a report by WSBT TV.
Only four years ago, Monaco cut about 1,400 workers and filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the manufacturer was purchased by Navistar Inc. and employment has been steadily climbing.
“I start my job today,” David BeMiller, a new hire said.
BeMiller is just one of the nearly 250 new employees Monaco is hiring. He’s worked in the RV industry nearly his entire life, but like many RV workers, he had been laid off for several months.
“I kept on looking for jobs and it seemed like there wasn’t much of anything out there,” he said.
This is just the latest job announcement for Monaco. In August, the company consolidated its motorhome operations in Oregon with the factory in Wakarusa. That brought about 300 new jobs to the Elkhart County factory. Now, the company is ramping up production and needs to add to its work force.
“We’re ramping up production as we speak,” Bill Osborne, vice president of custom products for Navistar’s Monaco and Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC subsidiaries. “We started diesel production and we’re currently building 15 per week and are on our way to ramping up to 22 per week in late June time period.”
Osborne says adding jobs has been the plan since the move from Oregon.
Despite the most recent job numbers that were much lower than expected, he says the RV industry is on the rebound.
“What happens with one month’s job numbers may mean something for those whose business plans go to quarter to quarter, but our goal is to be in this for the long haul.” Osborne said.
Monaco RV now employs more than 550 hourly workers, plus around another 100 administrative employees.
A job fair at the Wakarusa facility was held last week.
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. today (May 15) is hosting Dealer Days in Las Vegas to launch the company’s 2013 lineup of Winnebago, Itasca and Era motorhomes and Winnebago and SunnyBrook towable products.
“The recessionary mindset of ‘let’s just survive’ is officially over,” said Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts. “This is not your father’s Winnebago Industries and the 2013 products are just a start. We are no longer doing business the way we have always done it in the past. We are here to succeed.”
A new Winnebago Vista Rally and Itasca Sunstar Sport 26HE were introduced for 2013. “This new ultra-value, entry level Class A product is the result of an accelerated product development process unlike anything we’ve done before,” said Potts. “The process involved teams from nearly all areas of the company. The teams were challenged and empowered to become champions of change. The results were everything we had hoped for.”
The new 2013 Winnebago Journey and Itasca Meridian models feature new exterior styling, new logos, six all-new paint schemes and the new 34B floorplan. The 34B features a full-wall slide for added spaciousness in this shorter diesel floorplan.
Amenities include an extendable sectional comfort sofa/sleeper as well as an extendable dining table, chairs and buffet with retractable 40-inch LCD HDTV.
The Maxum chassis featured on these units delivers powerful and nimble performance with its lowered rail design that creates cavernous storage compartments with up to 220 cubic feet of exterior storage capacity.
A new 42GD floorplan joins the top-of-the-line Winnebago Tour and Itasca Ellipse lineup for 2013 and features a front-driver side galley with pullout island, a large walk-through bath featuring Winnebago’s “Big Shower” and a powered king bed with digital control mattress.
Entertainment features include the exclusive HDMI 4-by-4 Matrix system that allows customers to watch high definition video from multiple sources at multiple TV’s including the front 40-inch LCD HDTV and a mid-coach 55-inch LCD HDTV.
For 2013, customers can also choose the convenience of an “all-electric” coach, with features such as an induction cook top that eliminates the need for L.P. Glazed hardwood cabinetry, polished porcelain tile flooring and Corian countertops provide a crowning touch of elegance throughout the Tour and Ellipse.
Adding to the excitement is the first showing of Winnebago-branded towable products at Dealer Days in over 30 years. Winnebago Industries’ towables lineup on display also showcases SunnyBrook products including new floorplans in the Sunset Creek Sport 296RE, Raven 3300CK fifth-wheel and 2500KS travel trailer, along with the new Remington line. Remington is available in eight floorplans in market segments from ultra-lite travel trailers to mid-profile fifth-wheel trailers that are perfect for the budget-minded consumer.
This new SunnyBrook lineup provides great floorplans, an outstanding look and an even better value in key high volume market segments.
The innovative new Winnebago Minnie travel trailer also debuts at Dealer Days and joins the Winnebago brand lineup that includes the Winnebago ONE and Winnebago Lite Five. The all new Minnie is lightweight, price conscious and offers an attractive interior, along with a fresh exterior in lemon, lime or white exterior colors.
Decatur, Ind.-based motorhome builder Fleetwood RV Inc. has launched an enhanced version of its website to “deliver a seamless, efficient online experience to its valued customers,” according to a press release.
The new site, www.fleetwoodrv.com, contains an expansion of Fleetwood’s “Owner Center” to include additional product resources and service features that provide easy access to the company’s wide array of product information, parts and factory service centers. The “Owner Center” has also been updated to include functionality for owner manuals which can be downloaded for free. Pull-down menus for each product category enable customers to target the year models they are seeking.
In addition, the site offers a parts and service link allowing direct access to the factory service center where customers can request an appointment or an estimate. A rally service request feature provides access to emergency service for Fleetwood RV customers that attend major national rallies or owner club events. Owners also have access to the events feature where they can register online for the Fleetwood RV National Homecoming Rally in Goshen, Ind., held June 27–July 1.
The enhanced site includes a change of ownership form which allows customers the opportunity to update their contact information due to used purchase or transfer of ownership.
“These new enhancements to the Fleetwood RV website are designed to make our customers’ lives easier,” said John Draheim, Fleetwood RV president and CEO. “We want to provide our owners with the information and resources they need to make their Fleetwood RV ownership a great experience. Our new features and navigation tools will make visiting our website an enjoyable experience and provide customer confidence in knowing they made an excellent choice in purchasing the Fleetwood RV brand.”
For more information about Fleetwood RV products, call 1-800-322-8216 or visit www.fleetwoodrv.com.
Bristol, Ind.-based Renegade/Kibbi LLC drew steady traffic at the Good Sam Rally, Mar. 22-25 in Phoenix, with the latest rendition of its flagship Ikon motorhome. A unique upscale coach, it combines the look, feel and amenities of a bus conversion with the rather impressive towing capacities and serviceability of the 57,000-pound GVWR Freightliner Cascadia commercial duty chassis upon which its built. The 45-foot, $640,000 (retail) quad-slide coach on display in Phoenix, powered by a 560-hp Detroit Diesel engine mated to an Allison transmission, featured a bath and a half, heated granite floors throughout, solid wood, high-gloss cherry cabinets and a hydronic heating system. If this sounds like a lot of coach for the typical 2012 buyer, the fact of the matter is that 15-year-old Renegade, which does a lot of custom work and also markets a smaller more mainstream Explorer line, seems to have been weathering the storm pretty well. “Even in the worst of times,” reports Danny Lagunas, national sales manager, “we invested heavily in new product prototypes and fiberglass mold projects, so while a lot of our competitors were sitting on the sidelines, we were preparing for today. As a result, our business was up about 20% in 2011 over 2010, and we already are up 12% this year. We think we are on the upswing. I know the whole industry — the motorized side — is still a little iffy, but people are still buying them. We build a very niche product. People come to us to build what they want. They don’t have to settle for something off the lot.”
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization for motorhome owners, has announced that long-time staff member Jerry Yeatts has assumed responsibilities as executive director of the association.
According to a press release, Yeatts will take on responsibilities formerly handled by Bradford Koshland, who tendered his resignation in early November for family reasons.
“Brad made a very difficult decision that required him to set aside his duties at FMCA headquarters in Cincinnati and take on a new challenge with his immediate family,” said FMCA president Charlie Schrenkel. “We certainly understand the need to put family first, and we wish Brad well with this and all of his future endeavors.”
In addition to fulfilling the obligations of executive director, Yeatts also will maintain oversight for the Member Services area. Previously, he served the association as director of conventions and commercial services for more than a decade.
“Jerry is well-acquainted with the RV industry and well-versed in the needs of FMCA. His years of experience will be an asset as he leads the association and also works to grow FMCA’s membership base,” Schrenkel noted.