Founded only in 2010, Morelo has successfully established itself in the topmost market segment, where vehicles must have flawless style and be qualitatively perfect: the secret of success is an expert mix of craft skills and sophisticated production technologies.
Words and photo Michel Vuillermoz
The centre of Schlüsselfeld is that typical of a welcoming German town with a rich history and tradition: you enter through the classical Stadtor, the town gate, and immediately take in an atmosphere charged with tradition. Having passed the gate, you immediately find yourself in the Marktplatz, a tree-lined cobbled twin avenue complete with central fountain overlooked by the public museum, an excellent restaurant for trying typical dishes and beers and, of course, various buildings and homes built in the course of this town’s eight hundred years of history. Among these, of course, is the town hall, easily recognisable through its imposing entrance and the presence of the storks’ nest on the red tiled roof. What might seem like a quiet village in Upper Franconia, inhabited by just over 5000 inhabitants, is in reality home to some of the most prestigious European manufacturers of luxury recreational vehicles. If you had to draw an analogy, Schlüsselfeld is to motorhomes what Milton Keynes (and nearby Brackley) is to Formula One: a highly specialised industrial district capable of constituting fertile ground for the birth and growth of companies specialising in the design, construction and sale of genuine yachts of the road. You can tell this from the figures of the latest, Morelo: founded in 2010 by Jochen Reimann and Reinhard Löhner, it has already reached and passed the milestone of 1,500 motorhomes delivered and boasts a production line of considerable dimensions (220 metres long, 60 wide) which creates luxury outfits exclusively (380 predicted in 2018). But above all, in an extremely short space of time, it has become a true commercial phenomenon, able to establish itself as a benchmark in premium outfitting.
Wide range and good design
The secret, if you can call it that, is made up of a series of elements. Firstly, first-rate technical construction quality and broad, comprehensive offering, with two build types (coachbuilt and motorhome) and four trim levels (Home, Loft, Palace/Palace Liner/Palace Alkoven, Empire/Empire Liner). But refined, personal design from the “magic pencil” of Thomas Klüber-Voss and his Studio SYN also counts for a great deal, as does the capacity to create individual products, studied together with the client to follow up on their needs, whatever they may be, to the fullest extent possible. Blending tradition and modernity, classic taste with the most advanced technical and technological components, putting the soul of a tailor-made vehicle into an outfit that’s extremely elegant, but never an end in itself, to be, irrespective of the model, a truly First Class Reisemobile: that’s the mission of Morelo and, at the same time, the element shared by all the vehicles that it produces.
Among the possibilities offered to the end client are side slide-out and rear car garage (be it a little Smart Fortwo or a super-sporty Porsche 911), in a range of sizes starting from the 7.4 metres of the small Home 74 and stretching to the 11.5 of the gigantic Empire Liner 110 GSB: on the vehicle, the options available are practically infinite. Each client can select the interior colour of their furniture (Classic, Style), the configuration of the front lounge area (classic, Novel, Bar), the coverings for the floor, table and kitchen module, the configuration of the toilette area, the form of the rear bedroom: everything according to individual tastes, individual needs, individual desires. In the same way, Morelo ensures exemplary development of all the technical components, stowed safely in the maxi double through flooring: an extremely solid structure, which adopts 1.5 cm water-repellent polyurethane and can reach a useful height of 42 cm, housing all of the on-board systems, starting with the water and waste tanks, each with 350-litre capacity, installed centrally to promote the best possible load balance. The base on which to rest all of this is of course a highly robust self-supporting body with twin sheets of internal and external aluminium and RTM insulation (45 mm for lower platform, 50 for floor, 42 for walls and roof, the latter with hail-resistant fibreglass outer covering) combined with an equally high-performance mechanical base: Iveco Daily for Home, Loft, Palace and Empire, Eurocargo or M.A.N. TGL and TGM for Palace Liner and Palace Alkoven, Mercedes-Benz Atego for the flagship Empire Liner.
Added to this are of course the front and rear fibreglass units. The cockpit has been completely redesigned with respect to the basic vehicle, developed by specialist Meyer and distinguished by the repositioning of the steering, pedals and seat in such a way as to permit the greatest control possible of the space occupied in the vehicle. The construction takes care to exploit simple, rational solutions even in the most hidden components. You need only open the bonnet to note the unusual care taken in the thermal and acoustic insulation of this area, or remove a grille from the fridge to find a very distinctive installation, with the appliance completely insulated so that it is just as completely impossible to experience annoying draughts (or dirt) from its ventilation grilles. In the same way, the vertical load of the masses has been studied in detail, with the walls supported firmly by the lower floor, allowing this to leave the support for everything to a supporting structure below, again developed by Meyer Fahrzeugbau, specifically fitted with sides and extending over the whole surface of the vehicle.
You can create an extremely prestigious product solely through technical and commercial partnerships of the same level. See, for example, the use of Rhein Composit components for the sophisticated door of the entrance, with numerical combination lock, or for the electric locks of the rear garages. Note the Alde Compact 3020 HE heating system built into the floor (also in the cab) and the water system with pipes of domestic capacities and type. The electrical system is made with components of absolute excellence supplied by the most well-known and competent companies: CBE, Dometic, Exide.
Designed for travel
But that’s not all: a recreational vehicle is of course made to travel. So the dynamic performance of a luxury motorhome must equal that of its comfort. Control needs to be immediate and safe in all conditions, using self-levelling air suspension and – why not? – a sophisticated active suspension system. It’s no secret that, as well as equipping many of its own vehicles with the VB Airsuspension FullAir 4C system, Morelo made a significant contribution to the development of the VB Active Air system, a combination of FullAir 4C self-levelling suspension and DynActive active shock absorbers. The result is a system of smart suspension and shock absorbers, in which both elements of the chassis are interconnected and adapt in real time to road conditions, its surface and the load of the vehicle. In just 6 milliseconds, the system reacts to irregularities in the road surface, side knocks or swerving caused by the wind, vehicle roll on corners and pitching when braking, offering easier control, more comfort and greater safety. The tests carried out show stopping distance reduced by 15%, while the practically immediate response capacity of the system, with just 6 milliseconds required for the shock absorbers to switch from minimum damping force to maximum, allows emergency manoeuvres to be carried out and the avoidance of unexpected obstacles without compromising the attitude of the vehicle.
Progress and technological research then blend with tradition and considerable craftsmanship: on one hand the flawless execution of numerical control machinery, on the other the know-how from the passion of those who mould the form, design the interiors, create the furniture and assemble the vehicles. These are essential elements in generating the enthusiasm of the future client, prepared to wait several months for their vehicle, forming a lasting emotional connection with the vehicle itself and the maker. A luxury motorhome, the final price of which resembles that of a genuine home, is and must be the epitome of the possibilities offered by a recreational vehicle: offering the utmost freedom to its crew, wherever it wants to go, in any season, becoming a true home.