Caravan Düsseldorf 2019: Record interest in the compact motorhomes
This year's Caravan Salon - the big exhibition in Düsseldorf in Germany - has again set new records in both the number of visitors and exhibitors. At more than 214 square meters we find for the eighth time everything a camping enthusiast can desire. Not least when it comes to motorhomes of all sizes, shapes and price ranges.
In Norway, we find that motorhome tourism is increasing in both scope and reputation, but it is only as ripples on the sea compared to the major markets in central Europe. And when more than 600 different manufacturers of camping-related products come together from August 30 to September 8, we quickly gain an understanding of how large and diverse the camping life can be. Concentrating on only motorhomes and caravans, this fair presented over 2100 caravans or cars from about 130 different manufacturers. With the exception of the smallest local - and often niche-marked - manufacturers, most of the brands are also represented in Norway. The model range is, of course, somewhat reduced in a smaller market such as Norway, but the range is nevertheless huge for those who are going to buy a new motorhome.
From compact and affordable to large luxury cruisers
For a first-time visitor, the many exhibition halls at the Düsseldorf Exhibition may appear both inaccessible and incomprehensible, but as is also the case at the major German car exhibitions, it is a system that goes back every single year. Large German manufacturers often occupy an entire hall for themselves, and then the motorhomes are assembled within their various categories. Those who are interested in luxury mobile homes for many millions of dollars can move among models where everything from details in crystal and gold on board, to a garage for a Porsche convertible in the hedge is a matter of course.
At the opposite end of the scale we find the small and compact camper vans. Based on well-known small vans or MPVs, small motorhomes are created for holiday use by means of creative interior design and hoisting - and as an extra car in everyday life. Common to these two car groups is that they are both rare in Norway: the luxury cars because of their price and size, while the caravans are excluded because of one-off charges at the level of ordinary passenger cars.
Strong growth for van-based motorhomes
Even without focusing on these two extremes, we are left with a huge number of exciting motorhomes. From simple alcove models to the sub-integrated, the fully integrated, and last but not least, the group called "Campervans", "Van-based", "Bybobiler", etc ... Dear children have many names, and there is at the same time this category of motorhomes which can show the greatest growth. And rightly so. Never before have we seen so much variety and so much creativity. The starting point has been vans from Fiat, but as the popularity has increased, more automakers have emerged as suppliers to the many manufacturers.
From boxcar to motorhome
Citroën, Ford, MAN, Mercedes, Renault and VW now deliver vans that transform into flexible and comfortable motorhomes. Where we used to have very similar floor plans and decorations, many different - and sometimes unique - solutions have now emerged. The designers also brought the creativity to the exterior of the bodywork and the car's driveline. Now we find these motorhomes in a large color range and in special versions with four-wheel drive and equipment for stays in the wilderness.
More comfort and holiday enjoyment
We have already tried a couple of the most important van-based 2020 news, and if we use the alphabet, we experienced the new Twin Axess models from Adria as very interesting. The factory offers 9 different basic drawings. Bürstner has chosen to focus strongly on design, and not least bright colors and modern fabrics characterize the models. The Bürstner customer can choose from 6 different basic sketches. For the Carado brand, the transition from Citroën to Fiat Ducato is the most prominent - along with a density guarantee that increases from five to seven years. Four different ground views form the 2020 program. For the two sister brands Challenger and Chausson there is airiness and a lot of light in the car that applies. The storage shelves above the driver's seat have disappeared, and a large panoramic window can be mounted here if desired. Internal stand height is 1,89 meters. Also these motorhomes can be delivered with four different ground views.
Frankia on Mercedes
The German brand Frankia introduces a brand new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in the class up to 3,5 tonnes. The model Yucon comes in 6 and 7 meters in length, and the largest one has the salon located in the rear. Also the toilet and bathroom are extra spacious in this motorhome. Yucon comes with two different ground views. Well-known caravan manufacturer Hobby is also represented among these compact motorhomes with its Vantana model. It comes in two different ground views and comes in three equipment grades - all based on Fiat. Good winter insulation and variable bedding characterize Hobby.
With room for the whole family
Among the really big motorhome players - also within this segment - we find Hymer. As a prestige product, this German brand was quickly using the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a starting point. Hymer can now supply 8 different ground sketches based on Fiat, and 3 variants based on Sprinter. Caravan brand Karmann has lived a little withdrawn life in Norway. Small cars combined with lifting roofs have been a fee-based "impossible" solution in Norway, but also this "camping-bus" supplier has got van-based models on the program, based on Fiat and Ford. Two model series, Davis and Dexter, have six and nine ground views, respectively. German Knaus (with the sister brand Weinsberg) has a distinctive model especially suitable for families. A high ceiling allows for a sunbed in the front of the car, and even when in use the seating area can also be used. This model, "Lifetime 600XL" thus becomes a perfect holiday car for a family of two adults and two children - within a length of 5,99 meters. In total, Knaus offers 14 different basic sketches.
A market with a wide range
Italian Laika has also expanded its motorhome range with three van-based models. They are located in the Kosmo range, which is the general entry level to Laika. The bodywork does not have much "decoration", and the range is limited to three different ground views. In contrast to Laika stands Malibu Van, which offers the two lavish model series Charming GT and Charming Coupé. Creative solutions when it comes to furnishing and storage, as well as a nice integration between the driver's seat and the lounge. The Malibu interior has bright colors, and the series consists of six basic blueprints. French Pilote emphasizes high interior quality, and even the less expensive models have wood decor on the surfaces. A smart system where the WC is sliding and the washbasin fold down gives plenty of space in the bathroom. The Pilote Van comes with six different ground views. One of the real veterans in this part of the motorhome market is Pössl. The company is now 30 years old and is celebrating this, among other things with a brand new window concept on the 640 Prime model. On this we find a large openable window placed above the front window. The cars are delivered in three different lengths and have a total of seventeen ground views.
Greater emphasis on the individual
We also find a large window above the normal front window at Rapido, which also offers several other specialties. Longitudinal benches in the lounge and a wide French bed at the back blur the distinction between a van-based motorhome and the semi-integrated. The Rapido Van can be delivered with three different basic sketches. Roller Team is also a motorhome brand with good representation in Norway. The Livingstone series consists of six different models, and the most important news of the year is the large glass roof over the cab. It contributes to room feeling and airiness in the lounge.
Sunlight is a brand that has received a lot of attention for its Cliff series. Especially the special models XV - which we have presented earlier in the magazine - with its black exterior design and alcantara interior are noticed. The two model series both have four different ground views to choose from. VANTourer, a brand built by Knaus, advertises 40% more storage space in the 2020 models. The interior is practical, all surfaces are durable and the sidewalls are covered with fabric. The car has four ground views, as well as the new "Black & White" which is equipped with a brand new, bright and trendy interior.
Well-known brands with a long tradition
VW California is well known among the smaller caravans and has been based on VW Transporter ever since the 60s. With the Crafter-based Grand California, VW is also in place among the van-based motorhomes. The short edition (600) has a lounge in the front and a double bed in the back. Upstairs in the raised ceiling is the sleeping area for children. The longer 680 edition (VW has only two basic views) has a larger luggage compartment and a different bed configuration. Westfalia also started with models based on Volkswagen's T1 transports in the '60s. Over the course of several years, the program has been extended to several different series, named after, among other things, four well-known explorers. One of these is Amundsen. The most spectacular edition is the James Cook Classic, based on the Mercedes Sprinter, which has a "cassette" that is electrically pushed out of the car to the rear, providing extra space for a double bed. The disadvantage is that the trunk at the bottom becomes both shallow and shallow.
Camper van pioneer
The motorcycle brand Weinsberg is also one of the pioneers in the "camper van" market, and built the first car already 50 years ago. This year, they can showcase a distinctive and practically constructed fiberglass ceiling. Inside this we find a double bed measuring 2,18 x 1,30 meters. During the day it is raised in the roof, and the car then gets an interior height of 2,10 meters - compared to normally 1,89 meters in most motorhomes. A 1,52 meter wide bed in the rear of the car sleeps an additional two people with high comfort. The cars, which are also equipped with a large skylight, can be supplied with eight different floor plans. We also got to see the concept model "Outlaw" with gas tight garage for motorcycles or for example an ATV in the rear.
Mercedes-Benz on the offensive
Also among the classic part-integrated motorhomes, this year we see a clear trend: the 2020 models are no longer predominantly based on platforms and powertrains from Fiat Ducato. The booming motorhome market - combined with a demand for more environmentally friendly diesel engines - has brought new entrants into the field. Mercedes-Benz and VW in particular are now represented in the more expensive models from many of the German manufacturers, but also Ford and Renault. In the next issue of Motorhome and Caravan Magazine we will take a closer look at the many news within the groups of sub-integrated and fully integrated motorhomes.
Finally, we have to present the special "Vanlife 2025" from Hymer. This is a model that not only blurs the dividing lines between the van-based and the sub-integrated motorhomes, but is unique in several areas. Both the exterior and the interior move boundaries, and with the help of new materials developed by the chemical group BASF we get completely new solutions. Under the variable roof we find a bed, and to reach this one goes up a staircase - which has the kitchen integrated. Most of all, this is a "concept study", but expect some of these ideas to be found in upcoming Hymer models.
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