Resurrecting Dinosaurs – Influencing RV Design Changes

Resurrecting Dinosaurs – Influencing RV Design Changes

We all have different styles that reflect our individual ways. To me, style is a continuous visual representation of our personalities. It’s shown in the way we dress, how we wear our hair, which car we drive, how we decorate our home and even in the technology that we use.  In general I feel we have a wide variety of style choices with most things in life.

However, when it comes to RV designs and technology the options are extremely limited and have been for a long time. To me everything seems the same, no matter who the manufacturer is.  The big question is, how do we as consumers influence the manufacturers to create more variety?

We feel communication is the key and we started this Resurrecting Dinosaurs project hoping to get the conversation started.

Interior/Exterior Design

If you were to head over to an RV dealership right now and look at 4 different class A motorhomes, it would be hard to tell one manufacturer apart from another.  Below in no particular order are the Fleetwood Excursion, Thor Palazzo, Tiffin Allegro RED and Newmar Ventana.  With the branding removed, I think they all look like they came from the same factory and the same design team.

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Why is there no variety?  Why are the styles essentially all the same?  Why only market to one style of buyer?

Variety is the spice of life and right now, vanilla is the only RV style option, or as we like to say Beige on Beige. This infographic represents five popular design styles and if you ask me, most RV’s on the market fall into the traditional category, especially class A motorhomes.

interior design infographic

At the beginning of our Resurrecting Dinosaurs project we posted basic (and somewhat random) RV design questions to see how others felt and to make sure we weren’t the only ones craving a change.  The results are below and they aren’t the least bit surprising to us, sadly the traditional style that’s currently available in the RV market isn’t what everyone wants:

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Freedom is a word often associated with the RV lifestyle and yet RV technology is set up is to be plugged in at an RV park. The standard RV park is the absolute last place we want to be. Sure the occasional full service resort or campground can be a welcome change, but we got into this lifestyle so that we could be off the cord and in the wild!  Which is exactly how we set up our RV Technology and Modifications.

To us, RVing is a way to travel where we want…when we want, with no reservations required and doing it with all the comforts of home! It was no surprise we weren’t alone in this desire either.  We believe the modern day RV’er wants a more nimble and versatile coach under 35ft that is a minimum pre-wired for off the cord use. Things like solar power, better batteries, big freshwater tanks and connectivity shouldn’t be aftermarket…they should be options.

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Our Design Experience

We started this project by going through the custom order process on a new 2016 Bounder 33C.  While the coach is a test unit that we temporarily lease, Fleetwood allowed us to go through the full process and film a fair amount of it.

From the moment we drove off the lot we started providing feedback on not only our designs and technology but the overall performance and livability of the coach.  Fleetwood took the feedback seriously and started implementing changes right away.  A few months later they let us know we should see a fair amount of our feedback show up on the 30th Anniversary Bounder.  Sweet!  Here is what we found:

Big Kudos to them for being sincerely interested in the feedback and making upgrades and adjustments so quickly! There are other additional upgrades and design changes we didn’t feature in the video, but the ones we touched on were our favorites and ones we voiced opinions about.

As for our modern design desires…I don’t think you’ll be seeing any major changes from Fleetwood (or any other manufacturer) on interior or exterior looks anytime soon.

The most exciting part of building this test coach for us was the technology they allowed us to put in it. It was a risk for them as most of it is all new and nothing they had ever tested before.  We are happy to report that all of our technology has worked out brilliantly and Fleetwood has taken note.  I don’t think you will start to see many offerings right away, but the design and engineering team is working on ways to implement some of our technology.  However, I do see solar pre-wire as a standard option in the (very) near future and possibly much more impressive battery options on the high end coaches that should slowly trickle down to the rest of their RVs.

Did we want to see more change? Of course!  Did we expect it? No way.  While we feel they value the feedback we give I don’t believe it is enough to make a big impact, at least not for the about to launch 2017 models.  I do feel we have helped create small meaningful changes with Fleetwood, and we can only hope other RV manufacturers have been keeping an eye on this project and taking note.  If we want the big changes…we are all going to have to get incredibly vocal.

Voice Your Opinion!

We believe the best way to influence change is to voice your opinion.  Making your voice heard without a clear place to do so is a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  Contact your manufacturer of choice with your opinions, and then for the biggest impact, contact a dealer with similar requests! The dealer is the most important one of all to communicate with.  Why?  The dealer is the manufacturer’s customer.  The dealer is also who makes the requests and buys the RVs from the manufacturer.  If the dealer requests specific changes, technology and a wider variety of styles, we are much more likely to see those changes out on the showroom floor! Does that make sense? The dealer is the one that orders from the Mfr so they are the ones with the most “design power”.

Post on their social media pages (share this post), write letters, email, call or chat with them at RV Shows. Remember to be kind, brief, realistic and to the point. Nobody wants to read, much less pass along, a negative three page report to a high level executive. We’d recommend starting with a compliment and going from there: We like your design and floorplans best but we’d really like to see xxxxxx because it will allow us to xxxxxx. You get the point 🙂

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any ideas on how to influence design changes?  What’s your dream RV look like and what technology would you have? Share in the comments below.