Changing tastes making American RVs smaller

Spartan Chassis exhibited two concept chassis at the 49th annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville that unwrap a trend for all to see: That American buyers of recreational vehicles are starting to think smaller is better.

This is because recreational vehicle original equipment manufacturers have been aggressively seeking ways to improve their wheels that can drive demand. Current owners are looking to downsize their RVs and prospective buyers are interested in purchasing entry-level units.

"There are several key factors that are driving change in both the Class A and Class C recreational-vehicle markets," said Dave Snitgen, VP of Recreational and Specialty Chassis at Michigan-based Spartan.

"Given the various forces at work within our economy, such as higher fuel prices, a trend has emerged towards downsizing by both first-time and repeat buyers. Spartan Chassis has created two chassis
concepts that we are confident will define the future design direction of the marketplace."

Both concepts, a 32-foot Class A chassis and a 25-foot Class C chassis, capture key design features such as flexibility and adaptability, a Spartan spokesman said.


A 2010 study by Harris Interactive indicates strong interest in smaller and more fuel-efficient RVs. To target this growth within the Class A segment, Spartan developed a 32-foot concept truck that is a light weight, maneuverable mid-size, diesel-pusher chassis. The concept features improved fuel efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint, as well as the traditional benefits of a rear diesel engine chassis such as low engine noise, increased power options, and carrying capacity, according to a statement from Spartan.

Additional features include a Navistar MaxxForce 7 turbo-diesel engine, an Allison 1000MH electronic transmission, a Cummins Onan 6k generator, a 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating, a high-strength, low-alloy steel construction with 50,000 psi minimum yield, hydraulic disc brakes and a polymer diesel fuel tank.


With more than 40 million disabled adults living in the United States and a growing baby-boomer generation, there is a need for a purpose-built, low-floor platform design that offers ease of entry and exit with the option of including an ADA-compliant ramp.

The concept incorporates front and rear self-leveling air suspensions with 4-corner kneeling. The kneeling feature, available at the touch of a single switch, reduces entry step height to a level never before seen on an RV. This concept chassis provides manufacturers with the opportunity to expand their business to include RVs for customers with mobility and health concerns.

Additional features include a Chevrolet G4500 gas and diesel chassis, air-ride suspension with sway bars (front and rear), electronic control kneeling (front and rear), a premium air dryer system with spin-on eco-friendly filtration and a three-year / 50,000 mile limited chassis warranty.

"Since 1985, Spartan Chassis has developed significant technological innovations that have changed the RV industry," said John Sztykiel, president and CEO of Spartan. "We continue that history of innovation with the presentation of our vision of chassis design. We are excited."

Reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.

Image source: Spartan

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