National RV Holdings Inc. will introduce a Tropi-Cal entry-level diesel and new Sea Breeze and Dolphin gas-engine Class A motorhome models at the industry’s National Trade Show, which opens in Louisville Tuesday (Dec. 3), according to Brad Albrechtsen, president and CEO.
The new Tropi-Cal represents the revival of a brand name that National RV discontinued in 2001. The new Tropi-Cal comes in “a couple of triple-slide floorplans” and is priced below the company’s Tradewinds LE diesel coach, Albrechtsen said in a recent conference call with Wall Street investment analysts.
Meanwhile, the new Sea Breeze comes on a Workhorse chassis and was introduced in response to the “dramatic shift” that has occurred in the gas-engine Class A market “away from Ford chassis to the heavier-duty (higher gross vehicle weight-rated) Workhorse chassis,” Albrechtsen said.
National RV also is working on a Sea Breeze model on a Ford chassis it wants to be “more entry-level, well below $100,000 (retail).” The entry-level Sea Breeze on the Ford chassis is expected to be released to the market around Jan. 1, Albrechtsen added.
The new Dolphin model National RV plans to introduce at Louisville comes with “triple-slide floorplans and longer lengths,” he said.
Basically, National RV has worked since the summer on designing lower-priced motorhome models because, as of late October, it was using only 25% to 30% of its factory capacity in Perris, Calif., Albrechtsen said in the conference call.
The company lost $9.8 million in the three months ended Sept. 30 and $14.5 million in the first nine months of 2002 largely due to the inefficient use of its manufacturing complex in Southern California, Albrechtsen said.
Meanwhile, National RV’s Country Coach subsidiary in Junction City, Ore., operated at 70% to 80% of capacity as of late October and laid off 54 production workers on Oct. 31.
Despite operating closer to plant capacity, Country Coach also was losing money because of “tremendous production inefficiencies” that arose as employees “worked feverishly to introduce a midyear update to the Intrigue and Allure products,” Albrechtsen said.
Additionally, demand for Country Coach products, which increased during the second quarter of 2002, “leveled-out and even slowed a little bit” in the third quarter, prompting the layoffs, he said.