17 December 2018
17 December 2018, Comments Comments Off on Caravan Salon 2018
Caravan Salon 2018

Serious proposals


Instead of futuristic prototypes, manufacturers at the Caravan Salon 2018 launched novelties ready for the market. For vans and caravans, there seemed to be trends in both directions, large and small, with plenty of compact models and others of larger size with increased comforts, while for motorhomes, the 7-7.5-m size models featured improved interiors.

Words Andrea Cattaneo

As huge and exciting as ever, the Caravan Salon 2018 offered the world a glimpse of the latest of European caravan and motorhome production models. The market in Europe is flourishing, with sales in Germany at particularly high levels, so perhaps manufacturers did not feel the need for innovative concept models to attract the attention of the public. The news was mainly refinements and enhancements. There was certainly a great amount of work that had been done in the van conversions sector, with almost all companies showing renewed ranges – from the Trigano group to Knaus-Tabbert, from Adria to Hobby. Without doubt, it was the new solution of the integrated cabin that got the greatest attention in the van sector. Manufacturers seem to have optimized the interior space on compact vans and increased the level of comfort inside them. These could, potentially, become tempting alternatives to some semi-integrated models. The same applies to caravans: on the one hand, with lightness and ease of towing a definite theme, while on the other hand, maximum comfort was also favoured in models that have increased in size.

The highlights

  • Vans with integrated cab

This creates van interiors with a new look and feel: the removal of the bar above the cab (and the storage compartment above it) generates a continuity between the two front seats and the rest of the interior, but the brightness is also increased because of a glazed panel above the windscreen.

  • Electric engines

They are not yet reality, but there is much interest in new electric motors, or at least hybrids. It is still difficult to predict what the best alternative scenario will be for the future.

  • Ad-hoc frames

At the high-end of the motorhome market, customized frames are appearing which reduce the mass of the vehicle and optimize the space for the double floor. The Al-Ko chassis is therefore improved, while Hymer has created its own specific chassis for the Mercedes Sprinter base.

  • Larger Vans

There are more and more van conversions with longer and higher bodies represent a serious alternative to semi-integrated motorhomes. These benefit from having room for bathrooms with separate showers to make them more comfortable to use than traditional, pop-top campervans.

  • New mechanical bases

The Fiat Ducato continues to dominate the scene, but is flanked by the arrival of some new base vehicles, such as the Citroen Jumper, Peugeot Boxer, Volkswagen Crafter and Mercedes Sprinter.

  • Caravans: lightness and bigger sizes

The end of the caravan, which some had hypothesized, is not expected in the short term. And maybe it will never happen. Sales of caravans in Europe are still high, so there has been further work to perfect the product. However, there are two opposing trends: on the one hand lighter caravans, easily towable by hybrid or electric cars, and on the other side, bigger and more premium models, with even more comfort.

Van with integrated cab

A new type of vehicle is born: a van conversion with a completely open space above the cab (instead of the usual ‘barrier’ of the cab roof with a small storage area above it) to make the whole interior look and feel much more open. It also makes the front seats are more integrated with the living-kitchen area, while a panoramic window above the windscreen also brings lots more light in to the interior. The extra feeling of space is remarkable. You can feel it as soon as you enter from the side door, while sitting in the sofa, or standing in the kitchen. It also makes it easier to move between the cab seats and the passenger compartment. Three companies have created new models of this kind on a Fiat Ducato: they are the Malibu Van Charming GT, the Dreamer D55+Select, and the Adria Twin Supreme.

Volkswagen Grand California

At last year’s Caravan Salon, Volkswagen presented a California XXL prototype based on its Crafter, and said it would begin mass production of a similar model in a short time. This year, we saw the launch of the production version, although obviously in the transition from prototype to production, some of the prototype’s innovative ideas didn’t make it through to reality. The new model, called the Grand California, is in fact a range of two models – the 600 and 680. The Grand California 680 is a longer version, at 684 cm, designed to offer excellent comfort to two people, with longitudinal rear single beds. The Grand California 600, is shorter (599 cm) yet accommodates up to four people because it has two double beds: one at the rear, plus a second above the front seats. This high bed folds away to take up little space during the day, but slides forward over the central area of the passenger compartment to create a double bed when required. Both models feature a bathroom, something with sets it apart from the standard California with elevating roof. By introducing the Grand California, Volkswagen makes a historic step by joining a new sector of the campervan market.


Bürstner Harmony

After presenting the Harmony 1 and 2 camper prototypes in the past few years, this year Bürstner presented the Harmony 3 concept. This time it is a caravan, a clear sign that the German company still believes in the habitable trailer. As with previous models, the latest concept could be adopted in production with the minimum of modifications. Outside the Harmony 3 concept is characterized by a vertical window on one side and two horizontal windows on the other, plus a unique colour scheme. But it is the interior that attracts even more attention: conceived as a large open space, it has a considerable central free area with a cozy L-shaped sofa in the rear half of the caravan and a dynamic kitchen unit at the front set on the side wall opposite the entrance door. There is a sliding table which attaches to the kitchen unit, so takes up little space when it is not being used. A drop-down bed is well concealed on the ceiling, and lowers over the L-shaped sofa in the living room. The large and spectacular bathroom is at the rear, behind the sofa/bed area.

Dethleffs e.home Coco

At the Caravan Salon last year, Dethleffs presented a prototype of an electric motorhome which grabbed a huge amount of attention. This year, it followed this up with an electric caravan concept based on its Coco model showcasing a series of possibilities for the future. The e.home Coco is designed above all to be easily towed by cars with lower towing limits, such as electric cars. It is equipped with two electric motors that act on the caravanís wheels to help the car with its towing performance. The energy is provided by high-performance lithium batteries, which are recharged when travelling downhill, plus various solar panels on the roof. The e.home Coco can be connected to the houseís photovoltaic system, so that the caravanís batteries function as an energy supply for the building.

Colour effect

Coloured campers are attracting a lot of attention, and have an image that also attracts new people to campervans. Bright, colourful campers are perfect exhibits for shows like the Caravan Salon, and there were several this year. The best examples were two from the Knaus-Tabbert group: the Weinsberg CUVolution on a Fiat base with metallic orange paint and a pearl white Knaus CUVision on MAN TGE van. Niesmann + Bischoff already offer models available with non-standard paintwork, such as the Smove 7.4 with the red ìBMW Red Frozenî colour. Sunlight exhibited a special red version of its Cliff van, while other manufacturers had orange, red, and even black vans on their stands, such as the Bravia Mobil models. Semi-integrated motorhomes focus on gray or on various shades of beige and brown, but also on the colored cabin.

Drop-down bed without limits

Also this year, Trigano VDL presented some innovative alternatives using the latest bed handling systems for its Challenger and Chausson brands. Previously, it introduced twin drop-down single beds in the front, and bunk beds which can be raised and lowered at the rear, but this year there was another unique vehicle: the Challenger 274 (aka Chausson Flash 634) with a drop-down double bed over a small rear seating area, and transverse, twin bunk beds at the front, over the lounge. The use of retractable beds allows external dimensions to be reduced to a length of only 639 cm for these models, which is impressive for a motorhome with four beds (without needing to transform sofas), but also with two living areas, one front and a smaller one at the rear.

Hymer B-Klasse Modern Comfort

The Erwin Hymer Group is being acquired by the American company, Thor Industries, but Hymer remains the German brand par excellence. The combination with another emblem of German industry, Mercedes, for the new B-Klasse Modern Comfort range is perfect, which includes both motorhome and semi-integrated models. The mechanical base is that of the new Sprinter front-wheel drive, but the Super-Light chassis is designed from scratch by Hymer and has the dual objective of reducing weights and increasing the space for the double floor.

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