Starcraft Corp. has partnered with auto maker DaimlerChrysler in forming a subsidiary called Conversion Warranty Inc. to service van conversion owners, regardless of chassis type or brand name.
“With the decline of the van conversions, it is leaving many consumers and (auto) dealers without someone to handle their (replacement) parts and service needs,” said Sherry Roberts, vice president of Goshen, Ind.-based Starcraft.
Starcraft was a major van conversion producer during the early 1990s but it sold its van conversion business last year.
Several major manufacturers of motorhomes and towable RVs, including Coachmen, Gulf Stream, Jayco and Winnebago also stopped converting vans over the last several years.
And as sport utility vehicles (SUVs) crowded converted vans off car dealers’ shelves, even companies such as Glaval Inc., Elkhart, Ind., once the largest van converter, left the business.
“In addition to the Starcraft van conversion brand name, service and replacement parts are also available for owners of van conversions manufactured by any company that may have discontinued its (van conversion) operations,” said Kelly Rose, chairman and CEO of Starcraft.
“It is through foresight, determination and commitment to satisfying customers’ needs that Daimler Chrysler appointed Starcraft as its exclusive partner in this new endeavor,” Rose added.
“We (DaimlerChrysler) are extremely pleased to have Starcraft as a partner in fulfilling the void in the automotive industry,” said Dave Battane, manager of special vehicle sales at DaimlerChrysler. “Our mutual goals is providing 100% satisfaction to all customers.”
During the late 1980s, as many as 200,000 van conversions were produced annually, but only 45,000 van conversions were shipped wholesale during 2001, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge Division, General Motor Corp.’s Chevrolet and GMC divisions and Ford Motor Company’s Ford Division all supplied chassis to van conversion manufacturers.