Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC is replacing its low-GVWR, GM-designed gas-powered P-Series chassis with 16,000-pound and 18,000-pound additions to the Workhorse-designed W-Series.
“The significance is that our entire portfolio will have been designed by our engineers specifically for motorhomes,” said Bob Wert, vice president of RV sales, marketing and product planning for the Highland Park, Ill., chassis maker. “This is a landmark.”
The two new chassis, in line with the branding of Workhorse’s other rails, are designated the W16 and W18.
“The new chassis will pick up many of the features that we currently have in the other W-Series chassis,” he said, “including a lower doghouse, 50-degree wheel cut and a much more robust rail structure.”
The venerable P-Series, with GVWRs of 15,700, 17,000 and 18,000 pounds, was purchased from GM in 1999 when Workhorse was formed.
“We will still be building the P-Series through the first of July,” Wert said. “There are a number of manufacturers who are still building on it.”
The changeover will occur in mid-July, Wert said, and W16 and W18 prototypes already are in the hands of manufacturers. “Several are designing whole new bodies for these chassis,” Wert said.
Airstream Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, is among the first manufacturers to have adopted the new chassis. The Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary is designing an unnamed conventional fiberglass Class A motorhome that will debut later this year on a Workhorse W18 chassis along with an updated version of the bullet-shaped aluminum Airstream Classic motorhome that also is under development.
The W-Series first debuted in 2001 with 20,000-pound and 22,000-pound GVWR chassis. The line expanded in 2003 with a 24,000-pound GVWR W24.
Wert, meanwhile, said the new chassis will appeal to a whole new market of RV buyers. “The 16,000 and 18,000 pound categories are of keen interest to Workhorse,” Wert said. “These are the GVWR categories that first-time buyers look at.”
The W16 and W18 will feature standard 8.1 liter GM Vortec 8100 engines equipped with Hydramatic transmissions, front I-beam suspension and improved front axles.
Wert said the mid-July date was chosen for the transition to coincide with a period when many manufacturers will be debuting 2006 product.
The company also is designing a limited edition, high-performance gasoline chassis option that will be available in the near future. “This is going to be a chassis that will appeal to the upper echelon of customer who want to get a high performance chassis under their motorhome,” Wert said.