Erwin Hymer CEO Martin (L) Brandt and Thor CEO Bob Martin discuss merger

Editor’s Note: Bob Zagami, executive director of the New England RV Dealers Association (NERVDA), continues to send dispatches from the Caravan Salon RV Show in Düsseldorf, Germany.

As with any large trade or consumer event, most reporting is focused on a selection of the most popular products on the show floor and sometimes the most interesting discussions take place out of the spotlight and are missed by most attendees. For today’s report we want to cover some of the highlights that caught our attention this year at Caravan Salon.

Thor/HYMER Coming out party – This was the first major event where Bob Martin, CEO of Thor Industries Inc., could take center stage and proudly introduce the combined company that now includes Erwin Hymer Group, the largest RV manufacturer in Europe. The press briefing took place on media day so many attending the show did not get a chance to see the presentation.

The event opened with Martin sharing the stage with Martin Brandt, the CEO of Erwin Hymer Group, as they referred to the acquisition as a “merger” of two great companies with a combined revenue of approximately $8 billion. It is Thor’s largest acquisition, joining a family of RV brands in North America. The Erwin Hymer Group has 20 brands in Europe that cover just about every type of RV in the industry today.

Martin, obviously very excited about this acquisition, said the combined company would now produce more than 200,000 RVs a year, and that “each company can learn a lot from each other, they complement each other very well. This provides us an opportunity to increase the quality of our products and provide even better support to our 3,000 dealers worldwide.”

New Crosscamp RV was unveiled at Caravan Salon

For his part, Brandt discussed the synergies of the two companies and how the two markets, separated by oceans, are very much alike. He noted, “Both markets are keenly focused on the urban lifestyle of Millennials and Generation Z buyers who are more focused on what they “do” with the RV, than just buying an RV. The market is changing dramatically on both continents as buyers demand more flexibility in Class B motorhome in North America and Camper Vans in Europe. We are introducing the Crosscamp, built on the Toyota Proace Verso chassis. The raised roof vehicle can sleep four with flexibility and multi-functionality.”

The press briefing was topped off with the introduction of a new concept vehicle that combines innovative engineering and new materials in a collaborative effort between Erwin Hymer Group and BASF. To view a video of the prototype’s debut, head to the RVBUSINESS.com Home Page and scroll down.

Attention grabbing energy alternatives – There were two showings of future products offering new energy alternatives for motorhomes that will be getting more attention in the months and years ahead. Dethleffs showcased the “Globevan e.Hybrid,” the first motorhome with plug-in hybrid technology based on a Ford Transit Custom whose drive axels are all electronically propelled.

According to company officials, the Dethleffs Globevan is said to be the “first in a new generation of electrically powered motorhomes. Its e.Hybrid drive combines locally emission-free driving with travel-capable range. Thanks to its compact dimensions and comfortable equipment, it is a day-to-day car and adventure vehicle in one.”

The Globevan e.hybrid is powered by an electric motor powered by a 13.6 kWh battery providing a purely electric and emission-free range of up to 50 km (31.6 miles). When paired with the Transit’s energy-efficient 1.0 EcoBoost engine, which continuously charges the battery while driving, the combination of electric and internal combustion engine achieves a torque of 355 Nm (261 ft.-lbs.) and a power of 92 kW (126 hp).

The battery can also be charged via an external power source. The charging time (100%) at the fast charging station is three hours, at the household socket five-and-a-half hours.

Even more impressive was the launch of the Iridium, WOF GmBH’s second generation of 100% electric motorhomes. The improved range is 250 miles, and delivery of these motorhomes is expected in the second quarter of 2020 with an estimated price of $170,000 to $200,000.