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A refugee from the lagging van conversion business, Chariot Vans Inc. by mid-2007 expects to offer a more affordable version of the hefty Chariot Class C motorhome (shown here) that it has been building since May primarily for automobile racers.
The former Elkhart, Ind., van upfitter expects the new coach to be priced in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. “We are building for the discriminating buyer, and intend to continue in that direction,” said John Wisolek, Chariot president.
Chariot minimotorhomes currently are built on 38,000-pound GVWR Columbia or 42,000-pound Coronado Class 8 Freightliner chassis with MSRPs in the $400,000 range. The coach’s ability to tow up to 20,000 pounds has been particularly appealing to the racing crowd, Wilosek said.
Featuring five floorplans with two or three slideouts, the high-end units are equipped with solid-wood residential cabinets, granite countertops, all-electric appliances, washer and dryers, king-size bed and cedar-lined closets.
“We designed and engineered the coach for a year and a half before we started building them,” said Wisolek, who added that the company intends to ramp up production to 50 to 60 coaches in 2007 compared to 10 during Chariot’s first six months in the motorhome arena.
Since May, Chariot has added 15 employees for a total of 50, and expects to expand from three to four lines in the spring. The company also makes “hauler trucks” for commercial use on medium-duty chassis with customized driver’s compartments that range in price from $75,000 to $125,000.
“I’m totally out of the van business,” said Wisolek, a former Chariot employee who bought the van converter company in 1999. “We built 5,000 vans in 1990, and then SUVs just took it all away.”