08/03/2019

8 March 2019
8 March 2019, Comments Comments Off on Melbourne – Supershow
Melbourne - Supershow

The largest caravan show “down under”

With more than 400 exhibitors and about 1200 caravans and RVs on display, the Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow is the largest event of this type in Australia.

Words and photo Antonio Mazzucchelli

We enjoyed a visit to the 65th Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow, organised by the Caravan Industry Victoria, at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds from 20 to 25 February. Let’s just say that this event is completely different from any other caravan or RV show we’ve attended. The Melbourne Showgrounds are an immense exhibition space of about 60,000m² and this event occupies almost all of them. There are stands on the lawns, under the trees, in the arena, in the heritage-listed brick pavilion, and in the metal pavilions. A new feature was the ‘AL-KO Innovation Hub’ that showcased cutting edge recreational vehicle technology. The show featured a huge range of products to suit the outdoor lifestyle, including caravans, motorhome, tents, camper trailers, 4×4 off road and camping products, accessories and much more. It was particularly rich with products, events and activities for everyone, from the young people who camp with friends on weekends, families who take short breaks and the senior adventurers who spend their time on the road in their caravan making memories. In particular, we noticed a lot of off-road caravans, often double-axle, reinforced, with an aggressive look, dedicated to an audience that loves adventure. There were also some European brands such as Knaus, Adria and Bailey, which have commercial partnerships in Australia with important players in the sector. Truma, which has an agreement with the distributor Leisure-Tec, is the main sponsor of the show and will be for the next three years. Other sponsors include AL-KO, Dometic, G+S Chassis (purchased last year by AL-KO) and Matthews Steer. We attended the opening of the show where we met Rob Lucas, Chief Executive of the Caravan Industry Victoria. “We are really excited for this year’s Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow, as not only are we celebrating 65 years, but we rolled out new branding and many new improvements to make the event easier for visitors to navigate and more engaging for them”, said Rob Lucas. “This event showcased more caravans, pop-tops, tents, camping trailers, motorhomes, campervans, 5th wheelers and touring accessories than ever. In addition to all the products and services, the Supershow had plenty of interactive demonstrations, free entertainment, industry experts located at the camp ground and information on tourism destinations to help plan more outdoor adventures,” said Rob Lucas. We were also pleased to meet Stuart Lamont, Chief Executive Officer of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia. He told us a wealth of details about the market and the Australian RV industry, which you can read in our interview with him in this issue. We were particularly struck by his statement that there are a saturated number of manufacturers in Australia supplying unsustainable volumes of new product into the market. There are 160 RV producers in Australia, and walking around for the show, we saw many companies with only one or two products. This is a bit too much for a market of 23,000 units a year, of which about 50 percent are sold by Jayco, and another large share divided between three or four larger companies.

Fact sheet - RV market in Australia

Registrations: in Australia, there are 679,378 Recreational vehicles registered, an increase of 5% year on year. RV registrations have consistently outpaced overall vehicle registrations in the past decade. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, January 2018)
Visitor Economy: 13 million caravan/camping trips were taken in the past 12 months (an increase of 7%), with more than 59 million nights (annual increase of 9%) spent caravan and camping in Australia. 90% of the visitor market is domestic, however the international market contributes approximately 20% of visitors expenditure with the core European markets being Germany, the UK, France and the USA. Across international and domestic visitors, an estimated $8.6Bn in visitor expenditure occurs annually with 90% of this activity taking place in regional Australia. (Source: Tourism Research Australia, 2019)
Manufacturing: 2018 was the best year in the last 38 years for RV manufacturing in Australia with 23,070 units produced; an increase of 3% from the previous year. Annually, the caravan and camping industry generates more than $20B in economic value to the Australian economy.

Nat Schiavello’s inaugural speech

The President of the Caravan Industry Victoria Nat Schiavello, made the inaugural speech of the show. The CIV was formed in 1952 to foster the growth of caravanning holidays, the Association quickly became an integral body for like minded entrepreneurs who were manufacturing caravans. Today, 90 per cent of all caravan manufacturing in Australia takes place in Victoria. Major component suppliers use Victoria as their base including chassis manufacturers, timber, aluminium and fibreglass suppliers. There are also a growing number of electronics and alternative power manufacturers. “ From humble beginnings we have grown the 2019 Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Super show into a showcase of the great products and services our industry provides to consumers. Caravan Industry Victoria are proud to have organised this annual event for 65 years and the continuous evolution from the strong foundations established by our industries pioneers has ensured that this event remains engaging and relevant to all that attend and important to members and exhibitors. This edition has a number of major changes aimed at making the show more of an experience without losing the main aim of the show to showcase our industry and travelling our great State and Country. In 2018 the governing council of the Association agreed our trading name and logo would change. This change is about recognising the past but being very much focussed on our future as an industry. Our new trading name and logo reflects what we believe to be a progressive and professional organisation. Our industry continues to grow but we face some challenges, they are amongst other things being more innovative and professional. Both of which Caravan Industry Victoria will tackle” said Nat Schiavello.

Jayco’s new 2019 range features first production RV with smart technology

Jayco built its first camper trailer in 1975 establishing a reputation for offering competitive quality and pricing. It was this combination that set Jayco apart and has underpinned its growth to become the leading player in the Australian RV market. But it hasn’t always been easy. Still early in its development, Jayco had to survive the economic downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike many competitors, it did so through sound business management and a timely expansion of an innovative product range and nationwide dealer network. Since its humble beginnings, Jayco has built over 200,000 RVs for Australian’s to enjoy. Today Jayco has the 47% of the Australian RV market producing caravan (80%) and motorhome (20%).
Jayco’s 2019 range and two of Jayco’s premium products (Jayco Silverline and Jayco Optimum) come complete with a collection of technology referred to as RVConnect which includes a personal assistant – Amazon Alexa – a world-first smart technology in a production RV. These two premium ranges also showcase another new tech feature for Jayco’s RVConnect platform, the Wi-Fi extender. This system captures Wi-Fi signals within a significantly increased range and provides maximum security and mobile internet speed with 4G capability.
Additional NEW technology highlights for Jayco’s 2019 ranges include a 12V electric awning operated by a phone app which is available in Jayco Silverline and Jayco Optimum ranges, and all 2019 models will be fitted with the exclusive JHub phone app technology by BMPRO. “The JHub power management system has been a popular feature in a number of Jayco’s caravans and this year’s innovation is the introduction of new phone app technology to give Jayco owners a new degree of freedom” – Jayco Australia CEO, Garry Moore – “This means they will be able to monitor water usage and see the battery’s estimated time to discharge, all from their smartphone when within Bluetooth range”.

Jayco launches first off-road Hybrid camper Jayco Crosstrak

Jayco has launched its first ever purpose-built off-road hybrid product: CrossTrak hybrid RV, a custom built with off-roading travel at the forefront. It comes with the security of Jayco’s high quality in RV manufacturing reputation and includes JHUB technology, which is now standard across a number of Jayco products launched in 2019. Neil McGowan, Jayco Research & Development Manager says strength of the Jayco CrossTrak is a key proposition to ensure it’s fit for Australian conditions. “With any off-road product, strong design is paramount to ensure it can withstand the undulations of driving off the beaten track. Jayco chassis have been specifically engineered right here in Australia, tailored for Australian conditions and we’re proud to lead the market in caravan trailer suspension. Hybrid campers have increased in popularity in Australia due to their ease of set up and light weight which means they can be towed by a wide variety of vehicles from mid sized SUVs to large 4×4 utes.”

Avan

For over 20 years, Avan has revolutionised the RV industry, Along the way many thousands of holiday makers, travellers and adventure seekers have happily experienced new heights in style, comfort and value. Avan Caravans & Campers continues to set new benchmarks in RV design and innovation. Avan built approx. 25,000 RV and remains remains one of Australia’s ‘top 3’ RV manufacturers. A major expansion phase came in late 2012 after acquiring the camper and caravan manufacturer Golf and adding the brand Knaus to the portfolio.

Apollo

Established in 1985, Apollo Tourism & Leisure Ltd employs a build/buy, rent and sell model to conduct business. While Apollo’s RV rental operations remain the cornerstone of its business, equal importance is placed on its production, import and RV sales operations. In the rental market, Apollo hires out RVs under multiple brands in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Apollo is also a shareholder in peer-topeerRV operator Camplify, which connects private RV owners with holidaymakers. Apollo produces vehicles for its rental operations in Australia and New Zealand through its manufacturing division TALVOR. The Australian facilities opened in Brisbane in 2005 and New Zealand followed in 2010 with a factory in Auckland. In 2014 Apollo became the exclusive importer and distributor of Adria Mobil, a leading European caravan manufacturer. Apollo also secured a landmark licencing agreement with Winnebago Industries to operate the world-renowned brand in Australia.

New Age

The first New Age Caravan came out of production in 2008. By 2009 New Age Caravans had produced 7 different prototypes and designs. The year ending 2010 New Age Caravans were building 20 caravans a month 240 per year this gave them the catalyst needed to take the business into its next phase. By the end of 2012 they had their own retail arm staff had increased by 40% and New Age Caravans were producing over 800 caravans a year, this was achieved through improvements in design, quality and overall business acumen. A new manufacturing facility was established in 2013 in Epping Victoria. This expansion underpinned the level of growth the company had achieved in such a small period of time. Production had increased as had the focus on detail, the purchasing process and most importantly the advancement of designs and options available to a burgeoning customer base, with 10 model ranges and 35 layouts available.

DexKo Global signs agreement to acquire Preston Chassis Industries Pty Ltd

DexKo Global Inc.has signed an agreement to acquire Preston Chassis Industries Pty Ltd. (“PCI”) through its wholly-owned Australian subsidiary AL-KO International Pty Ltd. (“AL-KO”). PCI has a long history in the Australian caravan industry, supplying high quality chassis for over 40 years under the direction of its founders, Fernando “Fred” Pasquale and Orazio “Ozzie” Mammola. PCI manufactures chassis and other products from multiple facilities in Campbellfield, Victoria.
“As a long-time business partner & supplier, AL-KO, as part of DexKo Global, understands and values what is special about the PCI business and has the ambition and expertise to build upon our reputation and drive the business further” said Founder Fred Pasquale.
“I am excited by the opportunity to integrate PCI into the DexKo organisation” said AL-KO’s Australian Managing Director Peter Mannfolk. “I look forward to the already successful PCI business continuing to service customers, whilst adding the additional support of AL-KO in Australia and the global chassis manufacturing expertise of the DexKo group to take chassis manufacturing in Australia to new heights.”

Innovation Made in Australia

Australian technology startup, OzXCorp was the leading actor at the The AL-KO Innovation Hub, a dedicated area to display the latest advancements and innovations in the Caravan industry.

Digital Architecture. ConnX, features one continuous cable that provides a digital infrastructure for the caravan, enabling remote access and data collection from all connected components. “This holistic approach is absolutely required,” Andrew Huett, co-founder of OzX says “The analogy is like having a device for SMS but another device for calls. Yes, it is practical but we collectively rationalised this back in the 1990s with the death of the pager. Now is the time to rationalise the recreation industry and recreate recreation”. ConnX is not only the merger of once-siloed products but the smart integration of a digital logbook, odometer, RoadTruth®, breakaway monitor. In real time, ConnX is actively monitoring the health and operation of the recreational platform, while also providing support where the manufacturer can talk, review, and assist remotely. Confidence in the second-hand market is just a matter querying the logbook and RoadTruth® for confidence around the purchase or trade-in.

Hybrid Powertrain. Another innovation very interesting is the Hybrid Powertrain, which help to save on fuel consumption through the acceleration of the trailer itself, offsetting the dead weight to improve the driving experience and overtaking capability. This solution provides also consistency of speed during ascending of large onerous hill climbs.

Gasless System. The Centralised Energy Management System (CEMS) from OzX allows to avoid the LPG in the RV. Air conditioning, induction cooking and even improved dust sealing are some benefits of this patented solution. “We set out to develop a solution that was OEM friendly, designed specifically to enable a gasless vehicle that could omit all gas requirements by design and in harmony with all peripheral components such as inverters, chargers and solar systems,” Huett said. OzXCorp’s gasless platform is a solution consisting of a patented solution with bespoke thin-film photovoltaic array, fully integrated 5kW inverter/charger/solar and of course the battery system itself. “We are working with OEMs to aid their rooftop design to maximize their solar energy recovery, where our smallest system is now 1,560Watts and we are seeing systems delivering greater than 2,000 watts,” said Huett. “It is an exciting prospect because now it is completely plausible to run your air conditioner the whole day and still re-charge your batteries”. “Kitchen-centric, induction cooktops now grace the bench surface freeing up space and adding a touch of modern feel together with a convection/microwave oven capable of traditional microwaving or grilling/roasting,” said Huett. He explains further that induction cooking is actually the most efficient form of heating, converting some 73% of total energy to heat where as gas is only 44% as defined by the Department of Energy laboratory measurements.

Light-weight caravans: a solution to be developed also in Australia

Why must the typical Aussie caravan be so heavy? The love affair with a strong chassis and relatively weak timber frame and thin plywood floor might have something to do with it or maybe those who build lightweight, composite interlocking frames are too nervous about market perception if they don’t whack 6in-deep rails of BHP’s finest under it. A lightweight caravan is a wise money saving decision (i.e. under 2000 kg ATM, which includes most imported European caravans and some shorter Australian ones including pop tops) towed by a suitable environmentally responsible low fuel use tow vehicle. Most of the European caravans are lightweight, aerodynamic and are around 30 to 40% lighter than traditional Australian made caravans and do not need a heavy expensive four-wheel drive. It is the view that this is a growing market against the traditionally heavy-weight locally made caravans which are a heavy-box like structure, fitted with an agricultural type chassis, with no little or no aerodynamic features. Higher fuel prices will mean lighter caravans and camper trailers will enjoy increased popularity across broader age demographics. Lightweight caravans provide many people the ability to own a larger size caravan without the need to purchase a new tow vehicle. Lightweight caravans can be towed by larger family cars and mid-size SUVs – no need for a big, expensive 4WD.

Words Ben Somerville: he is a retired project engineer, leader of the Australian Caravan Club Lightweight Caravanning Forum, and has been researching lightweight aerodynamic caravans for six years, with special interest in lightweight composites.

On Demand Water Heater

At the AL-KO Innovation Hub, Coast to Coast, one of Australia’s largest suppliers of RV and leisure products, showcased the Suburban’s NAUTILUS Water Heater. With no storage tank to heat water, the NAUTILUS On Demand RV Water Heater reduces weight and increases efficiency by only operating when the need for hot water arises. It uses an exclusive 60,000 BTU 2-Stage Modulating Combustion System (MCS) which instantaneously adjusts the LP gas input to provide consistent and endless comfort regardless of your hot water needs. It has a built-In Freeze Protection and the weight is 16.3 kg Installed (including optional accessories).

Thetford induction hob

At the AL-KO Innovation Hub, Thetford launched in the Australian market the Topline 902, an induction hob developed and optimized for use in your caravan or motorhome including all safety and easy to use functionalities. Made from high quality Schott Ceran glass.

Here are the features:

  • Hob material: Black ceramic glass
  • Induction zones: 1 x 1.4 kW (1.8 kW Boost) / 1 x 1.8 kW (2.3 kW Boost)
  • Net weight: 5.5 Kg
  • Overall dimensions (HxWxD): 53x305x500 mm
  • Total heat input (electric): 2.3 kW
  • Total power use: 230 V / 10 A
  • Worktop cut-out size (WxD): 274×482 mm

Down force on the Tow Ball under control

Showcased at the AL-KO Innovation Hub, the Intelligent Tow Ball (i-Tow) gives instantaneous readout of the down force on the tow ball of anything is hooked up. It comes in 2 versions: analogue and digital. With the digital version itís possible to check the weight on the smartphone. To install is enough to remove the existing tow ball, fit the i-Tow ball and sensor, hook up the caravan and trailer and make sure that 10% of the weight of the towed trailer is resting on the ball. Ratings for towing up to 3500 kg for maximum 350 kg down force.

Truma and Leisure-Tec together in Australia

Truma is expanding its presence in Australia: the company is working together with a new sales partner, Leisure-Tech. The newly established joint venture, based in Melbourne, has taken over the sales and service of Truma products in Down Under. “Australia is the third largest caravanning market in the world after the USA and Europe and of strategic importance to us. With our new sales partner, we will be able to focus much more strongly on the needs of our local customers,” explains Truma CEO Alexander Wottrich. Leisure-Tech and Truma underline their commitment in Australia with a high-profile partnership: Truma is the main sponsor of the most important caravanning trade show, the Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow in Melbourne, for the next three years. “This is a decisive contribution to further establishing our brand in the Australian market”, says Wottrich. Widdis, General Manager Leisure-Tec, commented “Leisure-Tec and Truma are proud to be working with the Caravan Industry Association Victoria as the principal partner of the Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow for the next three years. As one of the most recognised and respected brands globally within the industry, we feel this partnership is a great union of industry leaders. Truma is excited to head into 2019 as it is a big year for the company marking our 70th anniversary and seeing us expand into new markets including the USA and APAC regions. As distributors of the Truma range, leading the way in innovation, Leisure-Tec has also created a full range of new, industry-leading myCOOLMAN portable fridges/freezers.”

The fridge for outdoor tourism

Leisure-Tec Australia Pty Ltd presents a powerful and robust portable fridge, suitable for the OEM too.  myCOOLMANÆ is designed and engineered in Germany to suit the demanding Australian conditions. Ranging in sizes from 36 to 105 litres with single and dual zone models, cooling and freezing food of all kinds is a breeze down to -18˚C. Itís possible also to keep track of the  fridge from the smartphone, thanks to the Bluetooth technology.

  • Cooling capacity -18˚C to +10˚C
  • Powered by a 12/24V DC Compressor
  • Multi voltage system AC (240V) & DC (12/24V)
  • Dual climate zones