Workhorse Custom Chassis will enter the diesel motorhome chassis competition in a few months and company executives believe most of its diesel volume will result from that sector’s continued growth.
In fact, President Tom Frey believes about two-thirds of Workhorse’s diesel chassis sales volume will come from that growth. The remainder will occur because the firm capture market share from its two competitors, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., and Spartan Motors Inc.
“Our ambitions are not to be 60% or 70% market share in rear diesel-pusher chassis,” Frey said. “We would not have entered the diesel-pusher segment of the market unless we convinced ourselves that we could add value and do something differently than the existing suppliers.
“We think that our position ought to be a little bit different,” Frey said. “We’re a little bit more expensive, but there are over a dozen features engineered into this product that are a direct benefit to the consumer.”
Workhorse will begin production of its R Series diesel-pusher chassis in late February or early March at its new factory in Hagerstown, Ind.
The R Series will come with a standard 350-horsepower Cummins engine with a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) in the 28,000- to 30,000-pound range, allowing motorhome OEMs to build coaches in the 32- to 40-foot range, depending on the wheelbase.
A 400-hp Cummins also is available on the R Series as an option, Frey added.
At first, Workhorse will install Cummins’ engines in its diesel platforms exclusively, although in the future, Workhorse most likely will use other manufacturers’ diesel powerplants.
Workhorse has supplied gas-engine chassis, using General Motors Corp. components, to Class A motorhome manufacturers for a little more than three years and its gas Class A segment retail market share surged up to a little over 50% in 2002, Frey said.
In 2001, Workhorse’s share of the gas segment was 25%, he added.
“We’ve taken (gas segment market) share (from Ford Motor Co.) and there’s been a little growth in the (gas Class A) marketplace,” he said. “But we’ve never said that we want to be all peoples’ business. So, we don’t expect a lot of market share gain in the gas segment going forward.
“We look for the (motorhome) market to grow and we’ll work on that, and we’ll grow by bringing out products in new segments,” Frey said. “This (entrance into diesel platforms) won’t be our last introduction into a new segment in the RV business.”