WRV Goes Deeper Into Diesel Pusher Sector
Luxury diesel-pusher manufacturer Western Recreational Vehicles Inc. (WRV), Yakima, Wash., founded in the early 1970s as a fifth-wheel manufacturer, will delve deeper into motorized this summer.
President Ron Doyle said WRV will introduce an all-new, lower-priced coach – yet to be named – at the FMCA’s 70th International Convention, July 18-20 in Buffalo, N.Y. It will retail in the $200,000 range, compared to base retail prices on the Alpine Coach ranging from $225,000 to $270,000.
Doyle, an outspoken board member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, said the move is designed to appeal to a broader base of customers. “Our goal is to enter more of the core pusher market,” Doyle said. “That market size is approximately 10 times more than our current market. It’s significant.”
Western RV was founded in 1971 by Ron Doyle’s parents, W.S. “Bill” Doyle Jr. and Suzanne Doyle. Bill Doyle worked for four years in manufacturing and quality assurance for Chinook Mobile Lodge, Union Gap, Wash.
“He saw opportunities in the industry and he opted to take advantage of them,” Doyle said. Ron Doyle became involved with the company at an early age, and moved into sales full time in 1979. In the early 1980s he took a position managing WRV’s R&D program, and became president in 1993 when his father retired.
Although known historically for its fifth-wheel trailer, Alpine Coaches has quickly built a name for itself in the motorized arena.
They are built on WRV’s own Peak Chassis that the company developed when it entered the diesel market in 1997. The 33,000-pound GVWR raised-rail Peak is equipped standard with a 350-horsepower Cummins ISC 8.3-liter engine and a six-speed Allison 3000 MH transmission. A 400-hp Cummins ISL is available as an option.
“When we got into the motorized, we considered the difference that we would pay for a stock chassis and what we could do with those dollars ourself to improve driveability, reliability and serviceability,” Doyle said. “Manufacturing chassis ourselves gives us the ability to do a considerable amount of overkill to increase driveability. Our goal is to make Alpine Coach drive like a luxury automobile.”
To promote Alpine Coach’s durability, WRV sponsors a motorhome drag race each May during the Alpine Coach Association Homecoming Rally at Renegade Raceway, Wapato, Wash. At the FMCA’s gathering in Hutchinson, Kan., in 2002, Doyle rented a small airport to allow prospective customers to put an Alpine Coach through its paces.
Although judging Peak Chassis to be a success, Doyle explained that WRV has no intention of selling it to other manufacturers. “I’ve had some requests, but I’ve passed on them,” Doyle said. “It would give any competitor the same advantage in handling characteristics that we have now. And once we put this in someone else’s hands, we are at the mercy of their manufacturing.”
Company management overlaps between the towable and motorized division, although each has separate engineering and sales groups. “To be successful in both towables and motorized, you have to separate those two, or one is going to play favorites,” Doyle said.
The Peak Chassis Group has its own vertically organized staff. For 2004 WRV added a fully multiplexed controlled area network (CAN) to Alpine Coach that allows the chassis, engine, transmission and electrical systems to communicate with each other and store diagnostic information.
“It gives the service centers the ability to go in and quickly diagnose systems, reducing the time it takes to troubleshoot a system,” Doyle said. “You can plug in a laptop computer and diagnose every component in the chassis. It gives us a backbone for future advancements.”
Proprietary CAN systems have been used by automobile makers for a number of years, and the CAN-based RV-C protocol recently was endorsed for inclusion in ANSI standards by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) board of directors.