Motorhomes booming in Europe

The team at Smart RV have been checking out the latest trends and exciting innovations at the Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf.

Motorhomes booming in Europe
SmartRV team Mary Hamilton, John Managh, Josh Smith and Pieter Koekemoer checking out the Hymer motorhome prototype with MCD editor Peta Stavelli.

The Caravan Salon is the world’s biggest motorhome and caravan fair, and a bellwether for the trends and health of the industry. And judging by this year’s show in Düsseldorf, the industry is in very fine fettle.

SmartRV’s directors, Michael Becker, Mary Hamilton and John Managh, along with South Island sales leader, Pieter Koekemoer and after-sales coordinator, Josh Smith –  who is in Germany on a three month secondment to Bürstner – attended the fair together to catch up with Erwin Hymer Group manufacturers Bürstner and Carado and view the latest and greatest in European motorhomes and caravans.

The SmartRV team were inspired by the buoyant mood and in awe of the fair’s massive scale. They spent plenty of time being captivated by the latest technical trends and investigating niche motorhomes (luxury pad for your dog, anyone?).

The current brisk demand for motorhomes in Europe is fuelled by concerns over the safety of holiday destinations like Turkey and Greece, along with low interest rates that encourage spending over saving. And while motorhomes may never quite reach a Kombi van’s bohemian cachet, a slick Manufacturer’s Association marketing campaign is helping transform their image from conventional to frankly, quite hip.

The upsurge in demand has seen manufacturers shifting to Eastern Europe, taking advantage of lower costs, especially labour, to ramp up production. Carado is in fact the only entry-level German motorhome brand still doing all of its manufacturing in Germany.

Bürstner is addressing cost with efficiencies such as the standardisation of some design elements as seen in its new Lyseo range where the front end (cab, dinette, kitchen, bathroom) is the same while offering different bed layouts in the back.

The current market also continues to pressure manufacturers to come up with new models every season that are somehow more distinctive; modern or retro, clever, and with an ‘x’ factor.

Bürstner has long been one of the leading innovators with its game-changing longitudinal dropdown bed. They continue to push the envelope on functionality, with new layouts which create even more space and features such as a scratch-resistant table and bench-tops which push the quality up another notch. Other new innovations on show included an above-bench mounted fridge and smartphone apps to control and gauge ‘household’ comforts like power, light, and heat.

The annual fair is also where the prestigious König Kunde (the customer is king) awards are presented, based on reader satisfaction results compiled by Reise Mobil Magazine. This year, these highly coveted awards were once again dominated by Erwin Hymer Group brands.

By the way, if you want a dog-friendly motorhome but not the custom price-tag, Hymer has a model that’s mass-produced. Though apparently teacup pigs are the new hipster pet; we haven’t seen a motorhome for that yet – maybe next year.

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