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By: Willem Laros
Caravan and Caravan magazine, No. 3 June 2022

Change in the chassis market: Knaus Tabbert chooses Mercedes and Ford

"You don't have to write it down literally like that, but eventually half of the Knaus and Weinsberg motorhomes will run on Fiat and the other half on other brands." That's what a spokesman for Knaus Tabbert in Stuttgart says at the introduction of, among other things, Weinsberg Pepper on a Mercedes chassis.

The main reason for this change at Knaus is Fiat's structural default as a supplier of chassis. PR man Stefan V. Diehl from Knaus Tabbert takes me into another, almost unlit room for the presentation with a mysterious smile. "Don't take pictures, just look", reads the strict order. "It's still a prototype, but I expect we'll be able to introduce this Ford Transit-powered van to dealers in June."

Hard competition

Fiat's problems in delivering the ordered chassis are not the only reason why Knaus Tabbert is looking to other suppliers. Hymer has also announced that they are negotiating with Ford. Diehl: "Hymer announces it, we build one first and then we listen to the reactions." Yes, the competition is fierce and that is only good for the consumer. If Fiat delivers at all, it is not the 160 hp versions, but the engines with 140 or 180 hp. So the buyers who ordered the much preferred 160 hp version will have to be patient for a while. how long? No one dares to guess....

Weinsberg

Back to Weinsberg Pepper on Mercedes chassis. Pepper is one of the best-selling motorhomes in Europe. "With Pepper at Mercedes, we are appealing to a different target group. A target group that is in love with the layout and the unusually complete equipment, but also wants the highest level of comfort on the road," said a spokesperson for Knaus Tabbert. Including all the options for driving assistance that Mercedes offers. Of course, this comes with a matching price tag. Two variants are available immediately.

Benefits

For future customers, a Pepper motorhome on a Mercedes chassis offers advantages on several levels. The technological finesse of the "star from Stuttgart" takes what is offered in this class to a new level. The powerful and efficient OM654 four-cylinder diesel provides good driving power for the vehicles, which Weinsberg offers on request in versions with both 3,5 and 4,2 tonnes gross weight. There are also extensive safety and assistance systems, such as active crosswind assistant, and comfort functions, such as the multimedia system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience).

Two variants

At market launch, Weinsberg offers the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter models in two semi-integrated variants. CaraCompact 640 MEG MB EDITION [PEPPER] has a single bed for up to three people. The SUITE version has a folding bed that expands the number of sleeping places to five. A particularly innovative detail of the seating group, although simple in practice, is very effective: Weinsberg installs the bench five degrees rotated at right angles - this may not sound like much, but it surprises with positive effects. Not only is it easier to sit down and get up, but the sense of space also benefits from the changed visual axes. The collaboration between Weinsberg and Mercedes-Benz is not new, by the way. Knaus Tabbert already supplied the Weinsberg ORBIS and Weinsberg ORBITER models in the late 1970s, both of which were based on Mercedes-Benz vans. At the time, Tabbert also offered motorhomes based on Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Important functions

Some more important features of the EDITION PEPPER on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. In addition to the extensive [PEPPER] equipment, various options are available from the factory on request, such as a bike rack, Premium or Exclusive body door, including window and come-home function, Seitz frame windows, ISOFIX, electric underfloor heating, Velocate GPS -tracker, or a lithium-ion built-in battery. The Sprinter's Light & Visibility package with LED High Performance headlights provides extra visibility and visibility, as do the high beam assistant and rain sensor. Thanks to the Wet Wiper System, cleaning fluid is sprayed directly in front of the wiper blades and is immediately wiped away. This not only improves the driver's visibility during drying, but also reduces water consumption and largely prevents accidental spraying of following cars or nearby pedestrians. The Hot [PEPPER] package includes even more Mercedes-Benz safety features (electric parking brake, distance assistant, traffic sign assistant) and MBUX multimedia system, digital.

Multimedia

The intelligent, intuitively operated MBUX multimedia system integrates the car directly into digital life and stands for comfort at the highest level. MBUX has a screen of up to 10,25 inches with HD resolution. Operation is via the touch screen, the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls or via voice control ("Hey Mercedes"). The system responds to the message "The tank is empty" with suggestions for petrol stations nearby or along the specified route. Messages can also be dictated and reliably recognized. A high-speed Internet connection integrated in the vehicle can either be used exclusively for Mercedes network services or act as a hotspot for dialing with individual mobile devices.

Tour calculator

The instrument panel with color display is located between the speedometer and tachometer. In the driver's field of vision, it offers easy-to-read displays and clear menu navigation. The display shows, for example, a trip calculator with ECO consumption data, average fuel consumption, AdBlue level and selected vehicle data. A Bluetooth interface with hands-free function ensures safe phone calls without distractions while driving. Four cup holders in the cockpit provide easily accessible storage space for drink bottles and cups for both driver and front seat passengers. The two practical storage compartments in the center of the instrument panel are also always easily accessible.

Starts without a key

On the passenger side, there is a wide, open storage space under the instrument panel with a capacity of approximately 8,5 litres. Personal items or documents can be stored there. Air vents, the direction of which can be adjusted individually, provide more comfort in the cab. Further Mercedes-Benz highlights include: keyless start, electromechanical power steering, crosswind assist, hill start assist, ECO start/stop function, the adaptive electronic stability program ESP (can support the driver by building up direction-stabilizing braking forces in critical driving dynamics situations) and adaptive brake lights ( can significantly reduce the reaction time of drivers of following cars due to their characteristic flashing lights and thus prevent rear-end collisions).

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