Gerd Adamietzki has over 28 years of experience in the caravanning industry. He joined the Knaus Tabbert Group in 2006 and assumed the role of Chief Sales Officer in 2013. We interviewed him at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf 2022.
Aboutcamp BtoB: Knaus Tabbert is probably the European caravan and motorhome brand that has renewed its products the most: a great effort, and is it also a great investment in the future?
Gerd Adamietzki: I am pleased that you see it that way because that is precisely our aim. We want to remain the leader of innovation in the industry. That is why new developments, new technologies and new vehicles have absolute priority at Knaus Tabbert. Take the AZUR caravan, for example, nobody in the industry has been able to replicate this technological advance in production. The FibreFrame technology with its self-supporting, high-strength frame gives us completely new freedom in the design and production of leisure vehicles. In short: this revolutionary technology offers a real unique selling point in the market.
Aboutcamp BtoB: Knaus Tabbert is the manufacturing group in the caravanning industry with the largest variety of chassis (base vehicle) used for motorhomes: Fiat, Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen, MAN. Is this necessary to protect against the supply bottlenecks from Stellantis?
Gerd Adamietzki: We recognised the supply chain problem early on and started to counteract it 18 months ago with our multi-sourcing strategy. In the meantime, we have the largest range of chassis to meet the increasing demands of our customers and to be able to have some flexibility in the market.
Knaus Tourer CUV
Aboutcamp BtoB: Does the production of motorhomes on different basic vehicles lead to higher costs? How has this affected your production and organisational processes?
Gerd Adamietzki: Of course, a larger selection of chassis requires corresponding additional effort in design, development, logistics and, ultimately, in the distribution of the chassis. But we have decades of experience in building a wide variety of recreational vehicles.
Aboutcamp BtoB: The new Azur caravan is the result of years of experimentation with new technology, which started a few years ago with the Travelino and continued with the Deseo. What were the highlights of this project? Why did it take so long to develop it?
Gerd Adamietzki: This technology was a very ambitious project – virtually new technological territory for us. After all, we asked for nothing less than to completely challenge the entire way of producing a caravan previously. The result were fascinating products like the KNAUS DESEO: A high-quality caravan for which our goal was to be able to open the entire rear wall. With the AZUR we have now introduced this FibreFrame technology to the larger model – which has been an additional challenge for the team – and in my opinion they have mastered it excellently. The AZUR is the technological pinnacle in terms of caravan construction.
Aboutcamp BtoB: Are you planning to transfer this technology to all caravans in the Knaus Tabbert Group?
Gerd Adamietzki: TRAVELINO, DESEO and AZUR are just the beginning. We believe in this technology. The advantages are clear: the highest degree of freedom in the design of recreational vehicles, combined with the possibilities of automated production.
Aboutcamp BtoB: Is the future use of this technology also planned to be used for your motorhomes?
Gerd Adamietzki: The FibreFrame has been developed universally. We are researching and developing in all conceivable directions. Wait and see. Be surprised!
Aboutcamp BtoB: Looking at the latest products, it seems as if Weinsberg wants to move away from its position as an entry-level brand. Is that true?
Gerd Adamietzki: The brand essence of WEINSBERG is to always offer the best price/performance ratio in its class. This has positioned WEINSBERG very successfully and precisely for years. This is also proven by the feedback from the markets. With the CaraCompact Edition [PEPPER] on Mercedes-Benz, we are now expanding the proven portfolio with an attractive variant, which, by the way, our customers are choosing more and more often. And finally: this version [PEPPER] is also extremely well positioned in terms of pricing.
Aboutcamp BtoB: How has the motorhome segment developed in the Knaus Tabbert Group in terms of investment and market growth?
Gerd Adamietzki: We have experienced an unbroken boom in motorhomes and campervans in recent years. Knaus Tabbert has contributed significantly to this trend. The European registration statistics document this. Since 2008/2009, the ratio of caravan to motorhome production has developed steadily in the direction of motorhomes. But of course we do not forget the production of caravans; they are a solid pillar of Knaus Tabbert and part of our DNA.
Aboutcamp BtoB: All European manufacturers have focused on the emerging category of urban motorhomes, i.e. minivans with pop-up roofs. You have developed completely different products: the Tourer CUV and the X-Cursion. Why?
Gerd Adamietzki: For us, this is a completely new vehicle category that we are convinced will inspire our customers. The feedback at the Caravan Salon 2022 was enthusiastic to euphoric. This shows me that we are on the right way with these new camper models. This new class closes the gap between compact campers and urban campers. A fully-fledged motorhome with a seating area, kitchen, complete bathroom and up to four sleeping berths at a length of less than 5.9 metres and based on a VW T6.1 that is almost cult-like in the scene – no one else does that.
Weinsberg CaraCompact Suite on Mercedes-Benz
Aboutcamp BtoB: You have a large number of caravans in your range: How important is the caravan segment for the Knaus Tabbert Group? Will it also be a strong market segment in the next 5-10 years?
Gerd Adamietzki: Our roots are in caravan construction, and we have successfully proven that for decades. This is shown by the number of vehicles in Europe, where Knaus Tabbert caravans are at the top. The fact that we continue to believe in caravans is shown by our new vehicles such as AZUR or the TABBERT PEP PANTIGA. I am firmly convinced it remains a strong market segment – and we will continue to develop and offer very attractive caravans.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What role does “Tabbert“ play within the whole group? Are you looking for a wider range of customers by renewing or modernising the new PEP Pantiga? Or is it a result of the change in your traditional clientele?
Gerd Adamietzki: TABBERT caravans are stand-alones in the market. But: Just as our customers are changing, we are changing too, of course. For me, TABBERT was somewhat trapped in its own history for a long time. With the PANTIGA models, we are breaking with traditions, entering new grounds. In the end, the customers will decide. But I am convinced: we are on the right path.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What are your expectations for the end of 2022? Will you have many impacts on the lack of motorhome chassis? What are your prospects for the coming years?
Gerd Adamietzki: The multi-sourcing strategy is already taking effect: our new partners are delivering reliably in the second half of the year. Therefore, we expect an even better chassis supply in 2023.
Knaus Tourer Van
Aboutcamp BtoB: Could the increase in motorhome prices lead to a switch of customers to (cheaper) caravans?
Gerd Adamietzki: We have moderately adjusted our pricing policy to the current situation and can thus continue to offer attractive vehicles at attractive prices in all segments. In my view, the motorhome and caravan categories are neatly separated in the market and will not tend to substitute each other.