Monday, October 26, 2015

NEC Motorhome Show Report

This is a summary review of the 2015 Birmingham UK NEC Motorhome Show.  Since Marcus also attended the Berne Switzerland show  I hope (time permitting) to make individual detailed posts of new vehicles that we found

Note, that in advance videos will be uploaded to our YouTube channel

3 Big Shows
Living in Switzerland we are aware of 3 large Motorhome shows yearly

Dusseldorf Caravan Salon - Start September
NEC Motorhome Show - Mid October
Swiss Caravan Salon Berne - Late October

Dusseldorf is the first and largest of the shows.  From our experience there in 2014  it's not exactly overflowing with things to do around town, so if you just focus on the show and don't mind the brochures all being in German then this is the best show to attend.

For us with English being are best languages then the NEC show is preferable even though it's a lot smaller.

How was it
Arrival was a little hit and miss.  After a lot of queueing to get off the motorway into a large jam we headed following signs for the temporary motorhome car park.

And then the signs ran out and we got lost, leading to a chat with a Policeman who eventually figured out where it was and gave us an escort there!

We plan to attend the show for 2 days, and Marcus starts off the day with a glass of wine to get things moving

It's a chilly 9 degrees outside

Agata and Marcus finally arrive

At least one of the exhibitors had something new to show us

After a few hours droves of tired customers were found at restaurants.  Meanwhile we had of course a packed prepared in our motorhome earlier.

We found a Wiggins, Swift motorhome but it was all locked up.  How disappointing.

A large selection of accessory and special interest stands.  Here is Doggy Bag

Some dealers, well this VW one, presumably had not been reading the British or any international news lately

Plenty of classic VW's and also a whole area devoted to VW camper conversions

Speciality vehicles

Fiamma and other customised vehicles

A good home wine tasting service

Some Specifics
Marcus intends to do separate blog posts on the following motorhomes.  Here is a short summary

Adria Compact Plus

A compact 2.12 metre wide motor home available as a 6 metre double bed or 6.6metre twin bed configuration.  Reasonable under bed garage and Mass in Running order weight as low as 2720Kg.
Hymer introduced the 314 compact van
Granted this is a very petite 5.45m long and comparatively thin 2.22m wide motorhome, which even has room for a garage below the rear fixed double bed.

But I'm not sure I can go with the brochure's claim of /smallest and best equipped motorhome in the world/.

Hymer ML-I
For two people almost ideal in so many ways.  First it's a base Mercedes not say Fiat base, with V6 engine and Dual Clutch (7 speed) gearbox options.   Interior quality is high, and the ML-I is the integrated version of the existing ML-T, so better cab visibility. Oh and it's /only/ 222cms wide excluding some very thin mirrors.

Although the ML-I has a second bed up front this can be optioned out (for an extra cost!)

On the down side, it a relatively 3000Kg+ vehicle and it's really tall, and the price with options will probably be around 80K GBP.

Dethleffs deleted our T8 and introduced 4 travel
Dethleffs introduced the 4 travel which has 4 beds in total.  A lengthwise pull down bed at the front.  And depending on model a double, twin single, or island bed at rear.

Meanwhile the Motorhome we now own the T8 has been deleted from the GlobeBus T series range, all other models remaining. It seems that sales were not strong enough, but to us the combination of a separate shower and bathroom that makes the T8 the best.  We'll post later about the merits of this combination.

Swift Rio 325
This builds on earlier Rio members and provides a 6m long and 2.26metre wide vehicle with a modest garage.  The rear electrical dropdown bed can be raised to give enough space for bicycles or other luggage.

Wingamm City Suite
The Wingamm City suite is a pretty unique motorhome and so nearly the one we bought!

It's got so many features that we wanted:

+ small size, fits in regular parking spaces (though note height)
+ light and hence good performance
+ Not white, so can be parked inconspicuously
+ Under rear electric bed is a huge storage space, that whilst open (could be screened off), could probably accommodate 2 bicycles (may need to remove a front wheel though)
+ Quite tastefully appointed inside
+ Decent cupboard Space
-- Combined shower and washroom is not very well executed. (We only noticed this on our visit at the NEC show). No evidence of shower curtain in test van, meaning water would go everywhere over sink and toilet!
+ Decent lounge
+ Optional dropdown bed at front, but its really short (160cm or shorter people only).
+ If you could live with only the front dropdown bed, you can re purpose the rear bed as a very very large storage area.

We have a full blog post to come on this vehicle

Industry Trends - Twin beds
We did talk to a few more elderly Motorhome owners as to why on earth they would like twin beds.  No satisfactory answers were provided to us!   Our view is

a) Motorhomes are quite expensive
b) We don't want to spend all that money only to have us sleeping apart from each other.  Come on.  We want to enjoy ourselves.

To us Twin beds are complete madness.

Industry Trends - Thinner
Monster motohomes aside, most coachbuild designs are at 2.30 or 2.35 metres wide not including mirrors.  But there is increasing recognition, from the increase in popularity of Van conversions (2.00 metres wide) or VW campers (similarly thin), that wider and more luxurious is great on a site, but difficult to drive on smaller roads.

So several manufacturers have thinner product, sadly the high end is stil fat fat fat.   We would hope this could change in the next 2 years.

Industry Complaint! - 4 beds+
Unfortunately this is not a trend, but a sad comment.  Many motor homes are 4 berth yet a high proportion of sales are to middle aged or elderly couples who really only need sleeping for two.

Quite why the industry is focusing such attention on 4 berth and larger homes completely baffles us. We'd identify 2 market segments

- 2 berth homes for Young couples or retired couples
- Family motorhomes with a double bed and space for 1-2 children

Bonkers Big Homes
Considering that Agata and Marcus have a focus on small and thin motorhomes for ease of driving on small roads and also for fuel economy, the prospect of driving a large bus sized motorhome, is well just never going to happen.  Still, it does seem to be for some people ..

We spent a good 2 days at the NEC exhibition and it was time very well spent.

We saw some new motorhome designs

We got English language brochures of the models we were most interested in.

We investigated many add-ons like solar and AC generators that could be useful to us in future longer term mobile expeditions.

Now as existing motorhome owners we had wished that the accessories hall was larger, so that we had more choice.

It was worth the effort to visit, certainly if I was a UK motorhome owner I'd make it a yearly calendar event.