Clayton Kearney, Managing Director for Horizon Motorhomes, knows a thing or two about manufacturing RVs, winning the Caravan and Camping Industry Association’s Manufacturer of the Year two years running. Horizon has been building motorhomes in Ballina in northern NSW for more than two decades and is constantly enhancing, developing and testing models in line with what the consumer wants. No clearer example of this is in its new Melaleuca Appeal, a modi cation of Horizon’s biggest seller where it has stripped out to meet a new market looking to get on the road quicker.
“The market is changing and we’re seeing younger people coming into it, more in their 40s and 50s whose children are now independent and they have more free time, but want to start now rather than waiting until they are retired.
“They are more active, and more sporting and outdoor focused, so we created an entire new model to accommodate them with a big boot space and removable panel so you can slide fishing roads and surf boards in the middle.” He says finance is coming back now too which has changed the demographic, making the motorhome lifestyle more attainable.
“You can get a loan secured against a motorhome so you don’t have to use your home and just have to come up with a deposit so that makes it more affordable for those still working.”
He says as well as a new generation in influencing designs, trends are equally having an influence.“Australians are getting educated with this style of travel and understanding the benefit of having a van-style conversion where you can park in a shopping centre or in front of a restaurant, so it’s lifestyle travelling .. where you can take off on a Friday afternoon and in one hour you’re by a beautiful beach or making your way through the hinterland.”
Kearney says there’s no denying being a smaller manufacturer makes it easier to adapt to this changing market. “We keep a close eye on the market and if a model doesn’t do well we can phase it out – we are constantly listening to the market and importantly reacting to that – so as more information comes back we are tweaking the product and evolving, a lot don’t because they are production-line based.”
Caravan Industry Association of Australia CEO Stuart Lamont agrees design needs to evolve for the increasingly discerning consumer.
“There is no doubt that technology will play a big part in future caravan design. From new light weight strong construction materials, better battery storage and device monitoring, through
to connectivity with the outside world, caravans of the future will continue their evolution to appeal to an ever discerning consumer group. Consumers are leading this conversation with manufacturers responding to market needs…”
Read more here