Home & Park Motorhomes
Canadian manufacturer Home & Park Motorhomes will begin offering in August its 20-foot Roadtrek 190 Popular Class B motorhome on a Chevrolet platform, pending DaimlerChrysler's decision to remove the Dodge Ram van from the market at the end of the 2003 model year.
"We will be targeting the same primary market, but the Chevy van will appeal to the younger market because it looks more automotive," said Home & Park Chairman Jeff Hanemaayer. "And in the interior, we are making a number of improvements."
The Chevy van-based Roadtrek will feature molded countertops and tables, leather options, and a 110-volt air-conditioning system equipped with a heat pump.
Home & Park was founded in 1974 and purchased a year later by Jeff Hanemaayer's father, Jac, after he had the company build a Class B motorhome that he custom-designed because he thought Class A motorhomes drove too much like buses. In 1980 Jac Hanemaayer created the Roadtrek to incorporate a low-profile roof, lowered floor and three-section floorplan. Jac Hanemaayer retired in 1999.
Home & Park produces an average of 32 units a week, which it sells through a network of 100 dealers in the United States and Canada. About 80% of its production is exported to the United States. With aggressive marketing in the United States, Roadtrek in 2000 accounted for 48% of all RVs exported from Canada, up from 45% in 1999, according to the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association.
Home & Park's conversion of its top-selling Roadtrek line to Chevrolet is being prompted by DaimlerChrysler's decision to halt production of the Dodge Ram van, which has undergone few design changes since 1978. Three of Roadtrek's five models, 170 Popular, 190 Popular and 190 Versatile, are built from Dodge Ram shells. Nonetheless, Hanemaayer said he welcomes the shift to Chevrolet, although it will add about $3,000 to the Roadtrek's cost.
"The Chevy has better drivability, and driver and passenger comfort," Hanemaayer said. "It typically has a better drivetrain, handling, braking and fuel economy. There also is better visibility because of a larger front windshield and side cab window."
Hanemaayer figures those features will have strong appeal to Roadtrek's primary customer base. "Our primary market is retired or soon-to-be-retired empty nesters," Hanemaayer said. "They use the Roadtrek very much the same way that a traditional RV is used. People who buy camper vans are more concerned with having something that is easier to drive and park."
"And they can be used for much more than just going to a campground," he said. "They can be driven around town; they can be used at sporting events; they can be used to go to the mall."
"If not for the fact that it's easier to drive and easier to park, there's really no reason to buy a smaller motorhome. One advantage is that one of the 18- or 20-foot Roadtreks very often can displace another vehicle in the family."
From an exterior standpoint, the Chevy-based Roadtrek features ground effects similar to a van conversion, while creating battery and storage compartments akin to those found on larger motorhomes, Hanemaayer said.
Home & Park already has experience building on a Chevrolet platform. It has been building its largest models the 20-foot Roadtrek 200 Popular and 200 Versatile, on a Chevrolet cutwaway widebody chassis since 1997. The unit, technically a Class C minimotorhome, features a one-piece molded fiberglass body.
"The 200 model is targeted at somebody who wants a little more interior room and will put up with a little longer length and a little wider body to get it," Hanemaayer said.
Home & Park initially will build both Dodge and Chevrolet versions of the Roadtrek 190 series, beginning with the Roadtrek Popular. A Chevy version of the 190 Versatile is scheduled to be introduced in the fall with the 170 Popular to follow in early 2002.
"We plan to build a Dodge Roadtrek until the fall of 2002, but, basically, the market will determine whether we end up discontinuing it before that," he said.
Production on the Chevy-based Roadtrek Class B began in July.
— Bob Ashley