NeXus RV couldn’t have asked for a bigger splash when it dove into the Class A motorhome business with the debut of its first diesel pusher, an all-new, 34-foot Bentley, at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa. The Elkhart, Ind.-based factory-direct motorhome manufacturer ended up selling six of the 36-foot, rear-bedroom, four-slide coaches at the Tampa Show.
The overwhelming response has prompted NeXus to double its production plans from one Bentley per week to two – which seems appropriate, since the company has doubled its business every year since its 2010 launch.
“We start slow on stuff like this. We never want to get stuck with too much inventory and we want to make sure the product is right. But in this case, we feel like we hit a home run right off the bat,” said Claude Donati, NeXus president and co-founder, noting they were a year ahead of schedule for adding a diesel pusher to the company’s motorized lineup of the Class C Phantom, Super C Phantom and Ghost, and Class B-Plus Vipers.
Donati said the recipe for Bentley’s success is offering features found in much more expensive motorhomes, including Freightliner’s XCR raised rail chassis, a 360-hp Cummins 6.7-liter engine and six-speed 3000 Series Allison transmission. Other key features include KIB lighting controls, vacuum-bonded composite Azdel sidewalls, Flexsteel cockpit seats with integrated seatbelts, low-alloy all-steel cage construction, frameless windows, and ducted roof air conditioning with two 13,500 Btu units.
For complete details on the Bentley, Donati and NeXus Vice President and co-founder Dave Middleton provide a walk-through tour of the 34B in a 36-minute video (see below).
While the Bentley’s base MSRP is $179,999, a fully loaded unit with all available options comes in at just under $204,000. As equipped, the 34-footer at the Tampa show, which is currently being displayed at the Fort Myers RV Show, runs about $196,000.
Donati said show attendees who toured the Bentley were “perplexed” at the price given the number of high-end features.
“I think the valuation really threw people for a loop,” he explained. “We had the prototype fully loaded at under $200,000 and our closest competitors were coming in around $240,000 with that same chassis.”
Donati said consumers accepted the price difference because the company and its factory-direct business model are established in the marketplace.
Donati cited several reasons why the company sought to develop a diesel pusher – a decision he said was a “no-brainer” since the builder has been selling the Super C Ghost at about $170,000 for two years. Entering the new segment represents a natural progression for NeXus, as it means the company is now a complete motorized manufacturer. It also provides NeXus with a whole new customer base and widens the manufacturer’s product portfolio. In addition it gives the company’s factory-direct model more credibility.
Initially, NeXus was anticipating entering the diesel pusher market with a unit retailing more in the $150,000 range. Donati noted, “But as we started to enter that product development cycle, we all started saying, “˜You know, this is the first time we’re going to be in the diesel category and it’s going to be the first time customers are going to see us building a diesel pusher.’ We decided not to come in and go after that lower end of the segment.”
The Bentley currently is offered in the 34B configuration, but NeXus expects to develop an additional one or two floorplans in the near future, including a 42- or 43-foot tag axle model.
“(Vice President and co-founder) Dave Middleton and I will sit back and take a look at that,” Donati said. “It’d be nice to build on the same chassis we have now and just be able to offer customers different options – maybe a full-wall slide or something of that nature. But the market will dictate that. At this point, if we have the best-selling floorplan and we’re only able to build 100 a year, then let’s do what we’re doing now and make it perfect.”
NeXus RV will have the Bentley and the rest of its motorhomes on display in Fort Worth, Texas, factory showroom and it plans to keep growing locations in addition to its current remote facilities in Clearwater, Fla., and Temecula, Calif. Donati said plans are in the works for a presence in Phoenix, Ariz., as well.