Australia-based Swagman Motorhomes is planning to target the North American RV arena – plus other overseas markets — with a new line of Chinese-built Class A motorhomes expected to go into production next year.
Swagman, headquartered on the Gold Coast in Queensland, currently produces 33- to 39-foot Class As for the Australian market, with larger units built on Roadmaster chassis supplied by Monaco Coach Corp., Coburg, Ore. Units destined for the U.S. are to be in a smaller 26- to 28-foot range. “We won’t be competing with them (Monaco) in the American market,” said Swagman Chairman Steve Searle.
Those U.S.-bound units are to result from a recently signed preliminary agreement between Swagman and the Yi Hong Group to produce, market and distribute motorhomes for the Chinese market as well U.S. and European buyers. These Class As are to be built at a 500,000-square-foot plant north of Hong Kong.
“We will transfer all our production methods to the China plant and send people and equipment and train them all,” Searle said.
Although U.S.-market units will require some modifications, company officials don’t see much difference between Chinese and American motorhome tastes. “The Chinese love all things American,” Searle said.
Swagman plans to produce about 20 left-hand-drive test units in June for evaluations, after which they will be refined, “based on what we consider doable for the American market,” said Searle. The company will also have to clear up compliance/vehicle certification issues here, and officials at this point aren’t sure how long that will take. “We hope to get certified by December 2007,” Searle added.
Swagman will compete in the small diesel pusher segment, its new Class As using 180- to 230-hp Cummins 4- and 6-cylinder powerplants that are to be sourced exclusively from the United Kingdom. Utilizing Allison 6-speed automatic transmissions, these coaches will feature smooth, elegant designs and amenities geared to premium buyers and a patented, high-strength, one-piece, carbon fiber/ Kevlar construction, called “Armourshell.”
Unlike conventional individual wall construction, the “Armourshell” is fully molded and seamless and incorporates the roof, sidewalls and rear and front headers. The resulting increase in structural strength and rigidity, according to Searle, minimizes vibrations and rattles. Swagman plans full rollover testing to promote its safety benefits.
Swagman is actually a small part of Searle’s corporate holdings. His parent company, Acme Fiberglass, is a major supplier to Riviera boats, which Yi Hong Group produces for international markets. Acme created all the modeling and designs for the motorhomes.
“These people are very focused on world-class quality,” said Searle, who plans to offer $200,000-$300,000, “Mercedes-type” design and quality “without the Mercedes prices.” They’ll be available in 26-foot, non-slideout versions plus a 28-footer that may offer an optional slide and a 30-footer that “definitely will,” according to CEO Neil Ingram.
Other planned features include a five air bag, self-leveling suspension system (at the extremities of the chassis for greater stability), a one-piece panoramic-design windshield, a 50-degree front wheel cut for additional maneuverability, a dual circuit ABS braking system and a galvanized steel substructure, inside and out.
Comfort/convenience features on the Swagman motorhome, which will come with five-year structural and three-year bumper-to-bumper warranties, include power driver and passenger windows, dual zone, fully ducted air conditioning, a raised internal ceiling for added usable space in addition to a standard 26-inch LCD flat screen TV.