China’s Yutong Bus Co. has put “on hold” its plan to build the En Route, a Class A motorhomes for the U.S. market.
In an e-mail from Bill Horvath, project manager for the Motorhome Division, Horvath stated, “This Tuesday morning (China time) the management team of Yutong Bus Co. announced it has decided to place further development of Class A motorhomes for the North America markets ‘on hold.’
“After much research and cost analysis, and looking at the market size that exists today, plus some still uncertain economic conditions, the decision was made to take a ‘wait and see’ position. In late spring or early summer of 2011, we will again check market and economic conditions in North America and re-valuate our decision. With the top five or six U.S.A. Class A motorhome manufacturers controlling approximately 80% of the market, it makes it very difficult for a new company to penetrate it when the market sales numbers are so small.
“To continue our interest in the motorhome business, Yutong Bus will focus on the up-and-coming Chinese market. Here we can better utilize our in-house capabilities and not have to overcome so many federal regulations and importing and exporting requirements. We can more easily enter this market than the North American markets. The manufacturing and product construction learning experience we will have in China will better prepare us for the North American markets in the future. Trust me, you will see motorhomes built by Yutong Bus in the foreseeable future.”
Horvath added, “Our bus business continues to grow at an amazing rate (large bus sales up nearly 45% in September over last September) and we will easily surpass our overall targeted goal of 35,000 vehicles for 2010. Our new manufacturing complex is still being planned and construction will begin yet this year with hope of moving in at the end of 2011. This joint complex will house additional bus manufacturing as well as motorhome production.”
Horvath first pitched his idea to an audience audience in Elkhart, Ind., in July and was actively receiving quotes from a number of suppliers.
He had planned to begin construction of a prototype this fall.
As recently as the Labor Day weekend, Horvath sounded optimistic about the project. He told RVBUSINESS.com at that time, more than 50 vendors, including three chassis manufacturers, had submitted quotes.
“I am very pleased by the vendor turnout, interest in our project and their support,” Horvath said then. “Elkhart County has the best suppliers for our industry and their interest and willingness to work with Yutong Bus is terrific.”
Horvath’s business plan called for mostly U.S.-made components for the En Route, which was to be assembled in China and then shipped back to the U.S., entering this country at Portland, Ore. The U.S. distribution site was to be near Eugene, Ore.
Nailing down a chassis supplier was a major concern at that point. In his original presentation, Horvath said the fiberglass-and-aluminum En Route would be available in 28- to 30-foot lengths on a 22,000-pound GVWR chassis equipped with 250/280 hp Cummins or Navistar rear diesel engines.
While he received three chassis bids, only two were “close to the platform definition” he was looking for.
“We continue to work with the chassis manufacturers and are very close to having final specifications completed,” he noted in September. “I need this information in order to move forward. The chassis specifications are not yet confirmed and our chassis wish list may be slightly different based upon available designs and engines.”
Horvath hoped to have the chassis contract signed, with delivery to Yutong’s factory in Zhengzhou by October and, best case scenario, production beginning in November.
Horvath even offered some price ranges for the En Route.
“Our targeted dealer cost for a fully loaded coach — including equipment and features not usually found on this size and price point — delivered to the West Coast is under $140,000,” Horvath stated. “My estimated bill of material will need to be confirmed after prototyping, and final pricing will be set at that time. It is critical that retail pricing be held to under $200,000 for a fully loaded version.”
In his latest e-mail, Horvath concluded, “I personally want to thank all suppliers who have supported our effort and let them know we will still be in need of certain materials and equipment and that I will be contacting them between now and the time I see them at the Louisville Show. My position will remain the same as I shift my focus from U.S.A. designs to motorhomes we believe will better fit the new Chinese market. I look forward to introducing the RV lifestyle to the Chinese.”
William (Bill) E. Horvath
Project Manager of Motorhome Division
Yutong Bus Company Ltd.
Specialty Purpose Vehicle Group
Fenghuang Road #7