Airstream Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, will upfit and market a North American version of a Sprinter-based Class B motorhome built in Germany by DaimlerChrysler AG and imported to the U.S. by its Dodge Division.
Airstream will be the second-stage outfitter of the 18 1/2-foot four-sleeper Dodge Sprinter Westfalia — marketed in Europe since 1995 as the Jack Cook by DamilerChrysler’s Westfalia subsidiary. The Northern American Westfalia Class B will be available beginning in April exclusively to Airstream dealers carrying a retail base price of $79,000.
“There is a pent up demand for Airstream Class C (motorhome) products and smaller motor coaches that more nimbly serve big coach purposes,” Airstream President Richard Riegel said during a news conference last week at the 41st Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville.
The Westfalia is the second Sprinter Class B being offered for 2004 by Airstream. The Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary began producing the 22-foot Interstate, which sleeps two, earlier this year.
While built on the same Sprinter chassis, the Interstate and the Westfalia are aimed at distinct markets, Riegel said. “The Interstate is a luxury touring coach for two — it’s a couple’s coach, sleeping two with sumptuous materials and lots of amenities. The Sprinter Westfalia is positioned to be in the great outdoors — a family camper (and) the only Sprinter that sleeps four.”
The Westfalia, equipped with a Mercedes Benz 2.7 liter 5 cylinder CDI turbo diesel engine, has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds and features a high roof to accommodate a second bed that pulls out from the cab-over, a full kitchen, shower, sink and toilet. The area immediately behind the cab converts into a living room with a couch, dinette or bedroom.
“We are convinced the Dodge Sprinter Westfalia will compete successfully in this segment,” said Craig Fisher, director of commercial marketing for DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge Division. “The vehicle is very, very compact, but it also is extremely roomy.”
Airstream will upfit and distribute the Westfalia in a facility in Jacksonville, Fla., by adding a generator, plumbing and electrical systems and other equipment to prepare the coach for the American market.
Riegel “modestly” predicted that several hundred Westfalia motorhomes will be sold annually.
Fisher added that Westfalia’s four-person sleeping capacity isn’t likely to be duplicated by other RV manufacturers that are converting the Sprinter into motorhomes. “I don’t know if there are other companies in the U.S. that want to dedicate the resources needed (for the engineering and tooling),” Fisher said.
The high roof, for instance, was engineered and tooled by Westfalia in Germany and will be exclusive to the Airstream Westfalia.
“There is a lot of money and a lot of investment that goes into a highly engineered product like this.”