Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. unveiled its Vantage Tuesday (Sept. 20) at Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House Week, embodying a new concept in RV travel trailer styling that, according to Keystone President Bob Martin, evokes “timeless design while incorporating cutting-edge construction technology.”
Designed and built in a separate facility that Martin playfully described as “Area 51” — “only about 20 people from our operations group had access to it,” he noted — the Vantage was kept under wraps within the Keystone display at parent company Thor Industries Inc.’s expansive exhibition on the grounds of the RV/MH Hall of Fame until it was revealed to dealers Tuesday morning.
“The Vantage is a new product that actually was the brainchild of our senior operations group,” Martin told RVBUSINESS.COM. “They wanted to do something that’s a different construction process, that looks different, is timeless, sleek and sexy. It started from the ground-up, as a project that is something that’s just not in the industry today.”
The Vantage incorporates vacuum-bonded radius walls both inside and outside, unique front and back molded caps, lighting throughout and, for its size, a surprisingly light towing weight.
“It’s not intentionally an ultra-lightweight,” Martin said, “but due to some of our construction techniques — vacuum-bonded sidewalls, laminated construction — it comes in fairly light. This is a larger unit — we wanted to build a larger one first just to see what the weight would end up being — and at 33 feet it weighs in at about 6,500 pounds.”
The 33-foot floorplan will probably be the largest Vantage built, Martin added, and will ultimately be offered in an entire range of sizes, down into the smaller 20-foot lengths.
According to Martin, the Vantage is not technically a wide-body, “but it is 101 inches.” He noted, “When you get inside with a lot of large people, we fit. It’s a nice feel.”
Nappanee, Ind.-based Gulf Stream Coach Inc. announced the 2012 model year enhancements to its Streamlite brand of ultra-lightweight travel trailers that will make them “key attractions for current and prospective Gulf Stream dealers” during next week’s Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House.
“Our dealers are seeing more and more experienced RVers who want the luxury amenities they’ve come to expect in a stylish, lightweight unit,” said Streamlite National Sales Manager Steve Jacobs in a press release. “The 2012 model Streamlite is the ideal solution, with the strength, comfort and durability of laminated high-gloss sidewalls and the rock-solid construction Gulf Stream is known for, from the frame on up.”
Breakthrough ideas are also a part of the new Streamlite, including a full-profile front fiberglass cap with a shape that’s both stylish and functional, according to Gulf Stream. “It’s the result of direct input from customers,” Jacobs said. “While some manufacturers offer partial fiberglass caps in this price class, experienced RVers know that a full fiberglass cap will resist the elements better, clean up easier, provide improved aerodynamics and look much more appealing. We think the results speak for themselves.”
Inside, the new Streamlite makes a point of using fabrics, flooring, cabinetry, electronics and furnishings that offer campers the stylish functionality they expect. Outside, the Streamlite shows off a subtle and attractive exterior “champagne” color option.
Advanced lightweight materials enable Streamlite trailers to shed hundreds of pounds of tow weight compared to conventional trailers. That weight saving translates directly into improved fuel efficiency and lower fuel costs, a key factor driving retail purchase decisions. Lighter weights throughout the Streamlite line also represent profitable sales opportunities for dealers by enabling RV shoppers to consider bigger, better-equipped units, and by opening up the RV experience to millions of families that want to use their minivan or small SUV as a tow vehicle.
When all the advances offered in the 2012 Streamlite release are combined with its extremely attractive pricing, the new line is sure to be one of the high points of interest as dealers explore product offerings during next week’s Open House. For specifics on where to preview the new Streamlite line and other Gulf Stream Coach products during the event, dealers can contact Jacobs at 574-773-7761, ext. 5146, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topeka, Ind.-based CrossRoads RV Inc. has launched its new entry-level Z-1 travel trailer that the company says “redefines the stick-and-tin” market. The line will be showcased Sept. 20-22 as part of the Thor Industries Inc. display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame during next week’s Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House.
Models for the Z-1 series range in length from 19 to 32 feet, offering full-depth slideouts while still weighing in at approximately 4,000 pounds. Starting MSRP is around $13,000, nicely appointed.
CrossRoads said the entry-level line is equipped with many standard features traditionally offered as options, including: Industry-first safety step in bunkhouse models; four stabilizer jacks; aerodynamic front end with diamond plate stone guard; tinted safety glass windows; tub surround; 13,500 BTU A/C; and an awning and kitchen microwave.
Darin Elswick, product manager, noted, “We are excited to offer a product most families are able to afford and tow with the half-ton truck or SUV they drive on a daily basis. CrossRoads has brought unmatched craftsmanship and functionality to our customers. Our ongoing collaboration with dealers and retail customers has brought a whole new sense of style to the entry level product segment.”
Resurrecting another iconic label carrying strong brand recognition with consumers, Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC announced the launch of its Wilderness travel trailer series, set for unveiling during the Sept. 19-23 Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House.
“Wilderness was part of Fleetwood’s rich towable portfolio that Heartland acquired through the bankruptcy court in 2009,” said Coley Brady, vice president of sales. “While we have no intention of producing all the Fleetwood brands, we felt – and our dealers agree – that Wilderness is a legacy brand with inherent brand recognition and value.”
Brady emphasized that Heartland’s Wilderness line, positioned as a player in the high volume lightweight laminate category, would represent a new generation of trailers with features, pricing and durable, lightweight construction aimed to meet the demands of today’s marketplace.
“We are hitting the middle of the bell curve in the super lightweight market with a full-featured, value-laden travel trailer,” noted Mike Creech, general manager. “One of the compelling features is the curvilinear roof design offering residential, 7-foot ceiling height in the trailer. That will give our dealers a huge competitive advantage.”
Creech said another salable, distinguishing feature for dealers is that Wilderness offers “a true full lineup,” giving consumers a choice of 11 floorplans ranging in length from 19 to 35 feet and available in four decors. Base MSRP’s run from $19,000 to $29,000.
“Floorplans run the gamut from a rear living arrangement to a bunk bed configuration for families to a traditional couple’s coach,” Creech said.
With dry weights starting at 4,184 pounds, Wilderness keys in on the trend toward lighter weight trailers while still offering spacious kitchen, bathroom and living areas. All units are equipped with one to three sliderooms except for the 2350 floorplan.
The Wilderness also sports several set-apart features, including: a detachable power cord, Wide Trax suspension, exterior shower, diamond plate profile, large entry door grab handle, safety glass, radius entry steps and supersized awnings.
Heartland will be part of the Thor Industries Inc. display setting up at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart during the Open House. Representatives will be on hand to show six new Wilderness floorplans along with Heartland’s full line of travel trailers and fifth-wheels. For additional information on Wilderness contact Creech at 574-210-1976.
Prime Time Manufacturing, a division of Forest River Inc., has expanded its product offering with the introduction of the all-new entry-level Avenger travel trailer.
Dealers and retail customers are having their first look at Avenger during this week’s Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey. Two models will also be on display for industry insiders at the Forest River display Sept. 20-22 as part of the Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House.
Avenger is the fifth brand to be introduced by Prime Time and represents the final stage in the company’s strategy to offer a full range of towable products.
“When we started the company two years ago, the goal was to be a full-line towable manufacturer,” said Jeff Rank, president of the Wakarusa, Ind.-based manufacturer. “In our mind, that meant having five products that served five distinct markets. Avenger completes that goal and now our customers have a choice of Prime Time products ranging from entry-level travel trailer to luxury fifth-wheel.”
Standard interior features for Avenger include glazed cherry hardwood cabinet doors, Armstrong “Tough Guard” linoleum with a five-year wear warranty, extra large slide rooms, 87-inch U-Dinettes and dual pots and pans drawers with full extension drawer guides. Exterior features include “2X2 construction,” enclosed underbelly, gas/electric DSI water heater, outside shower and Super Lube axles.
“When we were designing Avenger, we examined every feature and every component to maximize value to the end user,” said Product Manager Joe Luther. “We also wanted to build Avenger with a much higher standard of quality so we implemented processes and construction upgrades far superior to typical ‘stick and tin’ products that will provide our customers a fantastic ownership experience.”
MSRP for the new Avenger starts at $15,995.
For information regarding the Avenger, please consult www.primetimerv.com or call (574) 862-3001.
Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. announced today (Sept. 14) that it will introduce the Kodiak “Platinum Edition” at its upcoming Dutchmen “Discover the Difference” Open House Sept. 20-22 at the RV Hall of Fame. Thor Industries Inc. companies will be showing product all week at the facility as part of the Elkhart County 4th Annual RV Open House.
“Our new Platinum Edition Kodiak will bring fifth-wheel features to the ultralight market in never-before-seen-ways at a very competitive price”, said General Manager Ryan Thwaits. “Kodiak is one of the most luxurious ultralights in the marketplace and with the Platinum Edition we will continue to push the bar higher. Kodiak received the prestigious DSI award for the second consecutive year. “
Dutchmen produces various brands of towable recreational vehicles that are sold throughout the United States and Canada. Dutchmen RV brands include the Denali, Komfort, Infinity, Aspen Trail, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon, Aerolite, Coleman and Dutchmen brands. For more information on Dutchmen RV and its brands visit www.dutchmen.com or call 574-537-0600.
Goshen, Ind.-based Keystone RV Co. has slated the official unveiling of an all-new “top secret” product line at 11 a.m. on Sept. 20 in conjunction with Elkhart County’s 4th Annual RV Open House Week.
According to a press release, the event will be held at the Keystone’s display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart.
“These are exciting times at Keystone,” says Group General Manager Matt Zimmerman. “You don’t want to miss this. We have dedicated thousands of hours to develop a product that is truly game changing. We not only believe it’s a viable product for our dealers but a product that consumers will flock to and get excited about.”
He added, “One look at this new product and our dealers will instantly know that this is a new perspective on camping. There is nothing like it on the market today.”
Without revealing too much, the company said that the product does not compete with any of the existing Keystone brands and it will be priced to “hit the sweet spot of the market.”
The 2012 White Hawk is Jayco Inc.’s newest entry in the ultra-light travel trailer market. According to a press release, the White Hawk offers all the features and amenities of a traditional travel trailer, but can be towed by most half-ton pickups and mid-size SUV’s.
“We recognize the lightweight market is more competitive today than ever before,” said Ben Johnson, brand manager for the White Hawk products. “The goal was to provide a unit that could be towed by most family vehicles but offers standard amenities and features not traditionally found on units in this price range. We wanted to make the entire camping experience even more enjoyable for the owner, from towing to set up to take down.”
Jayco said that the 2012 White Hawk has a more spacious living area than other ultra-lightweight units because of a 36-inch deep slideroom, adding twice the amount of expandable space.
Standard features include the Chill ‘N Store outdoor baggage compartment with a 1.5 cubic foot exterior refrigerator; MaxView dinette window for extra light and comfort; Wide-Stance Tracker Axles for more stable towing; extra exterior lights for added safety and convenience; a thermal package with a heated and enclosed underbelly; and a standard premium exterior paint package. Other standard amenities include radial tires; four-inch crowned, fully-walkable roof; marine grade exterior speakers; residential style furniture and carpeting; high efficiency furnace and water heater; and central air conditioning with directional and closeable vents.
In addition, the White Hawk’s “Elite Kitchen” includes recessed halogen lights; designer-inspired kitchen cabinetry; large rounded countertops; deep 60/40 acrylic sink with sink covers; decorative backsplash; 6.3 cubic foot Norcold refrigerator with external temperature adjustments and black metal door inserts; and an Atwood high-efficiency oven.
The White Hawk also carries Jayco’s industry-leading Co-Pilot Warranty offering the original purchaser a two-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. In addition, all Jayco products have been Green Certified by TRA Certification Inc., an independent third- party certification agency. Jayco products have earned top-level certification through the use of sustainable materials, environmentally-friendly production methods, energy-efficient components and reduction of waste.
Starcraft RV will introduce two new products – the redesigned Travel Star travel trailer and the Launch – during its Sept. 20 –22 Open House located on CR 6 at Ada Drive in Elkhart, Ind. The event is running in conjunction with the 4th annual Elkhart County RV Manufacturers’ Open House, scheduled for Sept. 19-23.
According to a press release, the Travel Star travel trailer, featuring an optional upgrade package, is one of the “lowest priced, fiberglass travel trailers on the market.” The 2012 lineup is available in three floorplans, available to order now, with three more layouts to follow. Lengths run 28 feet to 30 feet offering seven-foot interior height and a 30-inch by 72-inch entry doors – four inches taller than comparable models, according to Starcraft. The Travel Star also is equipped with a Fastway Flip automatic jack foot, a Starcraft exclusive, and a STARMAXX front pass-through storage area with light and tool hooks.
The kitchens in the Travel Star line have been updated with a residential style faucet with a pullout sprayer, a deep oversized kitchen sink, covers for the sink with integrated drying rack, a storable kitchen cutting board and a double drawer with incorporated silverware dividers. The bedrooms were upgraded with two-tone wallboard and a pull-out laundry basket located under the bed. Exterior security light switches were added to the bedroom and living area and an amber light was also added at the entry step.
Starcraft is introducing the new optional Galaxy Package that features 23 upgrades, including colored front fiberglass cap, electric awning, front and rear power stabilizer jacks, electric tongue jack and key fob remote which controls the patio awning, porch light, security light, front and rear jacks and slideout room.
Other upgrades include slam latch pass-through storage doors, deluxe graphics package, aluminum rims, two 30-pound propane bottles with cover, reflective foil insulation in roof, floor and front wall, solid-surface countertops with under mounted sink, upgraded kitchen backsplash and raised panel cabinetry throughout.
The brand new Launch is a lightweight fiberglass travel trailer that is towable by most minivans and crossover vehicles. It has three floorplans, including a 15-footer with expandable bed, 17-foot model with rear dinette and 18-footer with bunks, all with dry weights under 3,000 pounds.
The Launch features a 78-inch interior height, fully decked roof with 3/8-inch decking, TuffShell vacuum-bonded fiberglass sidewalls, front diamond plate, patio awning, 14-inch radial tires, spare tire with carrier, four-cubic-foot refrigerator and freezer, 8,000 BTU A/C plus optional 13,500 BTU roof mount A/C, 18,000 BTU furnace, microwave and range hood, six-gallon water heater, 54-inch booth dinette with inside/outside dinette table, and screwed stile cabinetry with hardwood stiles.
Starcraft will showcase its full line-up of towables along with their new products at the Open House, which will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Today’s video comes courtesy of Keystone RV Co. offering a look at the features in the company’s Cougar fifth-wheels and Cougar X-Lite travel trailers.
Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. today (Aug. 12) announced the launch of the company’s first Winnebago brand travel trailer since 1983.
“We are very excited about the introduction of this new product bearing the Winnebago name after a hiatus of nearly 30 years,” said Winnebago Industries CEO and President Randy Potts. “Since re-entering the towable market earlier this year, we have made great progress. We have reinvigorated the SunnyBrook Sunset Creek travel trailer products, introduced new SunnyBrook Raven travel trailer and fifth-wheel products, while also designing a brand new line of Winnebago travel trailer products that are distinctly different than anything on the market today.”
“We feel that branding the first travel trailer line as Winnebago ONE is quite fitting for many reasons”, states Fred Hershberger, national sales manager for Winnebago Industries Towables. “As the name implies, Winnebago ONE represents the first in a series of products that will be launched under the Winnebago brand name. ONE also represents the fact that the affordable, light weight, all-aluminum framed travel trailer line is full of features that are industry firsts for a towable product.”
Unique features on the Winnebago ONE include standard laminated high-gloss gel coated fiberglass exteriors, a residential-style sectional sofa, a hide-away computer table, interior and exterior convenience centers, industry-best kitchen countertop space, private bathrooms, radius interior ceilings and memory foam mattresses.
According to Hershberger, “We have surveyed many customers and dealers regarding their perceptions of shortcomings in today’s towable products and have addressed those shortcomings in the Winnebago ONE. We have a unique opportunity to truly make customer’s No. 1 and that’s exactly what we intend to do. We are beginning to produce Winnebago ONE trailers and they will soon be making their way to dealers throughout the coming weeks.”
Initially, Winnebago ONE is available in four floorplans ranging from 26- to 34-feet in length. For more information on Winnebago ONE and dealership opportunities, contact Winnebago Industries Towables at 574-825-5250 or email Fred Hershberger at email@example.com.
Lighthouse RV Manufacturing LLC, Wawaka, Ind., has added a 22-foot floorplan to its 2012 Lighthouse wood-and-aluminum travel trailer series while increasing the interior ceiling height to 76 inches. ”My target is the smaller tow vehicle and the person who understands value,” said Lighthouse Vice President Melvin Yutzy, who reported that the two-year-old company has more than doubled its dealer base this year for a total of 24. ”We’ve been fortunate this year,” Yutzy said. ”We signed on 15 new dealers. It’s been a very different type of year.” Currently available for 2012 in three 18- to 22-foot floorplans, the Lighthouse line will add a 26-foot bunkhouse model later this year, Yutzy said. ”Everybody wants small, but they also want space inside,” Yutzy commented. Features included padded walls and ceilings, large awning, twin LP tanks, ducted AC and lighted pass-through storage. Base MSRP: $11,000.
The following is an article appearing on “Treehugger” about a NASA architect who designed an eco-friendly, lightweight space-age trailer. To view photos of the unit click here.
Architect and designer Garrett Finney always loved small spaces, and moved to Houston to work on the habitation module (where the astronauts live) of the International Space Station.
Wanting to camp with his kids in a little more comfort than a tent, he combined his “NASA experience with his love of the earth” to design the Cricket, “an innovative lightweight, compact, and flexible small environment in which to travel and explore the world we live in.”
The design combines the low profile of a pop-up tent trailer, which dramatically increases fuel efficiency, with the benefits of a solid trailer. It is also as light and minimalist as possible.
The plan is really clever and efficient; it sleeps four, with the kids in hammocks and the adults in the bed. It has 6 foot 2 inches of headroom unfolded and weighs 2,500 pounds fully equipped, light enough to be towed by a 4-cylinder Subaru.
Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles recently announced it will host a dealer open house at its Wakarusa, Ind., facility Sept. 19-23, scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the event.
According to a press release, Livin’ Lite will be showing updated models of its all-aluminum and composite RVs, including the Quicksilver automotive tent campers, Camplite ultra-light travel trailers and truck campers, and VRV toy haulers.
“We will be debuting new models, including a new all-aluminum tent camper with full LP systems, the Quicksilver XLP, as well as two new Camplite travel trailer floorplans,” said Scott Tuttle, president. “We will also introduce two new truck camper models, including what is sure to be the lightest, fully self-contained model ever built for a short-bed, light-duty pickup truck.”
For more information, call Tuttle at 574.862.2228 or visit www.livinlite.com.
The recreational vehicle industry and the housing market traveled much of the same road during the last decade, according to a report by the Record Searchlight, Redding, Calif.
And when the housing market crashed, the RV industry suffered a similar fate.
“Our industry followed the same money as housing did in that we loaned money to people who we shouldn’t have loaned money to,” said Wayne Barnes, owner of B&B RV Center in Anderson. “What has happened is we have had a lot repos and the market has started to work through a lot of those repos.”
Now the RV business model has changed dramatically: Much like the housing market, bigger no longer is necessarily better.
Gas and diesel motorhomes — many carrying six-figure price tags — dominated dealer inventory five or six years ago. Today, lots are full of fifth-wheels and travel trailers.
“The mix for big dealers used to be 70% of sales would be motorhomes. Now it’s 30% motorhomes and 70% fifth-wheels and travel trailers,” Barnes said.
Not only do the smaller RVs cost a fraction of a new motorhome, but there can be a savings in gas to pull a trailer.
“There was a time that if we saw one tent trailer a month, that was a lot. Now we have two or three tent trailers coming in to be repaired,” said Tom Williams, who has owned Northern Trailer & RV Supply in Redding since 1974.
While the RV industry is still down from its peak in the middle of last decade, sales have started to rebound.
“It has become more of a motorized towable industry,” said Phil Ingrassia, vice president of communications for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). “It used to be that between 20% and 25% of RV shipments were motorhomes. Now it’s less than 10%.”
Still, motorhome sales are rebounding. The industry is forecasting a 13% year-over-year jump in motorhome shipments in 2011.
Dealers like B&B in Anderson continue to adapt.
Barnes took over the former Dan Gamel RV location in Anderson after it closed in 2009. The store was one of several Gamel dealerships in California to shut down.
When B&B RV opened in July 2009, it had three employees and did not have a manufacturing line to market. Today, B&B RV has grown to 22 employees and the business is a Jayco dealer.
B&B RV expects to do nearly $7 million in sales in 2011, up from $4.5 million in 2011. Still, B&B will generate about 25% of the total sales Gamel did during his best year in Anderson, said Barnes, who was Gamel’s CFO before opening B&B.
“That still allows us to make a good living and grow and hire some people,” Barnes said.
Last week, Todd and Pamela of Kelly of Redding picked up their new 26-foot Jayco trailer at B&B RV. The couple, who have two children, were actually trading up from a 22-foot trailer.
The Kellys owned two motorhomes — including a 28-footer — before they decided to buy their first travel trailer. Pamela said camping with a trailer is more convenient.
“With a trailer it’s nice to be able to unlock and drive and explore further,” she said.
RV dealers still in business today have used a term heard a lot in retail today to describe their industry – the new normal.
“It’s not necessarily how much you sell, it’s really about how much you keep,” Barnes said.
In other words, Barnes says, current customers and their need for service helps subsidize the sales portion of the business. The dealership has 12 service bays and a full body shop.
“All that business covers the overhead of the dealership,” Barnes said.
Ingrassia said Barnes’ business model is not unique.
“There is more emphasis on service perhaps at some dealers, but it’s hard to paint a broad brush,” Ingrassia said. “Overall the dealers that have survived have tightened up inventory.”
What’s more, dealers are coping with a tighter lending market. When the credit crunch hit in 2008, it was extremely difficult for both dealers and customers – the former to finance inventory, the latter to get a loan to buy a new RV.
“It’s gotten better in the last year and half,” Ingrassia said.