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Touting a “return to the innovation business,” longtime builder Newmar Corp. showcased its 2007 line of diesel motorhomes during a three-day gathering of around 60 dealers at the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.
The meeting, held Feb. 28-March 2, allowed the Nappanee, Ind., manufacturer to preview a lineup that included the a Class A diesel sport utility recreational vehicle (SURV) built on Spartan’s new mid-engine chassis and a “repositioned” high-end Mountain Aire A-body featuring an exclusive power steering enhancement system.
“This show is a bit different in that we gave the dealers a chance to look at the product before placing their orders,” said Matthew Miller, who was in his first week as the firm’s newly appointed president during the meeting. “It was structured so that we had around 20 dealers each of the three days and could work with them on a more intimate basis.”
The company announced just prior to the diesel show that Miller, the son of owner Mahlon Miller, would replace Dick Parks as president. Parks, who took over the reins in October 2001, will serve as the company’s chairman.
“This was part of an orderly transition plan that has been in the works for years,” explained Parks. “It was time to get a member of the Miller family into the company’s executive group.”
Miller has worked in various capacities, primarily in the engineering department, since 1991. He acknowledged that sales in Newmar’s target market – mid- to high-end fifth-wheels and motorhomes – had been challenging during the past year.
“We had a decent year in 2005 in what was a soft marketplace,” he said. “It appears there is pent-up demand and we’re looking for the market to come back this year.”
Miller said the company is concentrating on returning to its roots as an innovator. The company has two-year exclusivity on both the Spartan ME chassis, which allowed for the design of the garage area in the 41-foot All Star coach, and the Comfort Drive Steering system by Trw that comes standard on the high-end Mountain Aire, Essex and London Aire Bus lines.
“Comfort Drive is a power steering assist that compensates for crosswinds or crowns in the road and greatly reduces steering efforts for parking, backing up and cornering,” Miller said. “It’s like driving a car. We think this is the biggest thing in motorhomes since the slideout.”
The steering system was one of numerous upgrades and changes in the 2007 Mountain Aire line, which offers seven floorplans, six with four sliderooms, in 41- to 45-foot lengths and MSRP’s ranging from $400,000 to $415,000.
“The reason for the redesign was to differentiate the Mountain Aire from the Essex and the Dutch Star lines,” said Kyle McCrary, director of high-end motorized product, noting the new front and rear caps that give the Mountain Aire “its own identity.”
Other redesign features include a new dash with a curved entry, “unitized” cabinet construction, “mullion” cabinet doors with an opaque glass accent, polished Corian countertops and a pull-down 23-inch LCD bedroom TV.
The interior is set off by decorative ceiling treatment with a soffit that hides the A/C vents while allowing air to pass into the coach.
The Mountain Aire diesels are built on 46,000-pound GVWR Spartan K2 chassis equipped with a Cummins ISM 450-hp engine mated with an Allison 6-speed transmission.
The All Star 4153 diesel toy hauler boasts a rear garage offering access from the full bedroom suite and a side door opposite the ramp. The garage area, capable of hauling two full-size ATVs, also offers a built-in shop vacuum and MOR/stor cabinets by MOR/ryde International along with an optional A/C unit for dedicated climate control.
The All Star SURV is equipped with an auxiliary fueling station featuring a 30-gallon tank and a nozzle for filling up vehicles on-site.
With an MSRP of $235,956, the 32,000-pound GVWR All Star 4153 is powered by a Cummins ISL 8.9 liter, 350-hp engine and an Allison 3000 6-speed transmission.