March '16

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20 • RV PRO • MARCH 2016 rv-pro.com has not built a Class B through much of its more than 50-year history. In fact, after a short hiatus, Winnebago just re-entered the B market in 2011. "That's from nowhere to 33 percent in five years," Garfin notes with pride. He credits the success in part to the emphasis Winnebago places on innovative product design. "These things are limited by weight and wheel base limits and weight distribution issues. The whole time we develop floorplans in small coaches, we try to make them look bigger than they are," he says. "We don't use conventional heavy cabinet doors; we use less complicated, less ornate furnishing; more contemporary, maybe even European styles. Those help a lot with the feel. "Other features are even bigger windows than you normally would have, making the coach airy and open. In selection of upholstery, we use solid patterns. It lets the eye travel a little bit. Lighting is a big part; a lot goes back to making the coach bright and airy. Looking ahead, Garfin says he wouldn't be surprised if the Class B market exceeds RVIA's projections of 3,300 shipments in 2016. "We see the segment of compact coaches (combining B and small Class C's) has grown by over 30 percent each of the last three years in our industry. We think that will continue to lead the industry," he predicts. Leisure Travel Vans: An Innovative Murphy Bed in a B+/C. In 2009, Leisure Travel Vans launched the Unity, the industry's first B+/Class C motorhome with a queen-size Murphy bed. Built on a Mercedes-Benz chassis, the Unity quickly became recognized as the RV mak- er's most innovative product introduction. "The Unity MB is our most popular," says Ryan Elias, vice president and general man- ager. "It feels really big inside for a 25-foot, 1-inch motorhome. It has a great 68-inch wide by 74-inch bed, a huge dry bathroom, a stand up shower with glass doors, a big hanging closet and a 39-inch pop-up swiv- eling TV with a dual viewing area: from bed or in the standard Leisure Lounge." He adds, "So, for a customer downsizing from a big Class A, the Unity MB is an easy The ABCs of Motorhome Designations Getting the RV industry to define how it differentiates Class B and Class C motorhomes isn't necessarily a simple thing to do. The RV Industry Association defines a Class B (or van camper) as a motorhome constructed on an automotive-manufactured van-type vehicle. Meanwhile, a Class C is identified as a motorhome constructed on a cut-away automotive-manufactured truck chassis. RVIA does not recognize the B+ moniker – it's merely a marketing term devised by OEMs for purely marketing purposes. In announcing the "reimagined" Melbourne in June, Jayco called the motorhome a Class B+, continuing the nomenclature that accompanied the Melbourne since its original introduction in 2010. However, during an interview with RV PRO in January, National Sales Manager David Josephthal acknowledged that the breadth of offerings can challenge traditional RVIA classifications. "You can make an argument that it traditionally would be called a C. The cabover front is a traditional C, and it is constructed on a cut-away automotive-manufactured truck chassis," he says. For its part, though, RVIA doesn't have a category for B+. The Association leaves it up to the reporting manufacturer to make the determination on which category to report these motorhomes. Meanwhile, the Winnebago Fuse debuts this year on the new Ford Transit cutaway chassis. Winnebago calls it a "C" even though it lacks the traditional cabover bunk, so some people will call it a B+, says Winnebago Product Manager Russ Garfin. Stat Survey President Tom Walworth subscribes to RVIA's definition, saying that a C motorhome is built on automotive-manufactured van frame and weighing 6,500 pounds or more. A "compact C" would be built on such a frame, but weighing less than 6,500 pounds. "To me, a Class B is a motorhome that retains the identity of the manufacturer in design," he says. "A Class B does not have a body attached to the back; a Class C is always placed on a van that has been chopped and a box is placed on the back." For that reason, Stat Surveys would say that a B+ is really a "C." Kevin Erdman, director of sales and marketing for Renegade RV, offers his two cents worth: "A B+ motorhome is built upon a 'cab-chassis' platform. In the case of the Renegade RV Sprinter product offering, that would be a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 cab-chassis. A 'B' classification motorhome is manufactured upon a 'van body' 'B' platform. "The designation of a B+ is realized by the interpretation of a wider version of the 'B' van body," he adds. "Typical B+ models are 16 to 18 inches wider that the same manufacturer platform (i.e., Mercedes-Benz Sprinter). So, RVIA allows manufacturers the ability to describe and or designate a specific class to help end users understand. A 'B' class motorhome is built on a 'van' body and a B+ motorhome is built on a 'cab-chassis' body, even though both are Sprinter vehicles in this case." Ryan Elias, vice president and general manager at Triple E, when asked whether to classify his company's Unity coach as a B+ or a C, replied, "You can call it whatever you like, as a class B+ is technically a marketing term. According to RVIA, it's a Class C." — Steve Bibler

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