Freightliner Custom Chassis began marketing to the diesel pusher motorhome industry — during the just-concluded Louisville show — the new chassis that Winnebago Industries Inc. calls the Evolution, according to Andrew Harris, motorhome chassis product manager for Freightliner.
Freightliner worked with Winnebago to develop the Evolution, a name Winnebago trademarked, and Winnebago has the exclusive right to use the chassis during the current model year.
Winnebago is using the Evolution chassis on its 2004 Winnebago Vectra and Itasca Horizon models. “It’s been very successful in part due to the chassis and certainly in part due to the coach itself,” Harris said. “It’s been very well received since its launch (last August during Winnebago’s national dealer meeting) in Las Vegas.”
But the agreement with Winnebago allowed Freightliner to exhibit the new formed rail chassis during the National RV Trade Show, which ended Thursday (Dec. 4), “to start soliciting interest and we’re allowed to do prototypes now for companies that are interested, for production beginning in June,” Harris said.
The new chassis “has several features that are unique,” Harris said. “It’s a straight rail chassis but it’s 13-inches deep and notched in the middle for additional storage. It also has a 5/16ths thickness so it’s a little thicker than we normally do, for a stiffer overall frame.”
It now comes with the Cummins ISC 350-hp engine and its GVWR is 32,000 pounds. For model year 2005, the Cummins ISL 400-hp and the Caterpillar C7 330-hp engines also will be available along with the Allison 3000MH six-speed automatic transmission.
Concerning the possibility of future joint-development agreements, Harris said, “We’re always open to those types of arrangements. We don’t have anything currently going on that is exclusive. But if a company has a unique idea that they want to work with us on and they want exclusive rights to it — yeah — we’re willing to do that. That’s usually, if not always, initiated by the OEM if they have a specific idea or requirement that they need help with.”
During the first nine months of this year, 50% of all diesel pushers sold in the retail market were built on Freightliner chassis, said Harris, who cited Statistical Surveys Inc. data.
“You’ll see some new things (from Freightliner Custom Chassis) in the summer months,” he added.