Caravan Salon bigger than ever: Compact mobile homes are the focus

With many innovations, mainly in the camper van area and new ideas for interiors, the caravanning industry is trying to hide the delivery problems at the Salon in Düsseldorf - at least for the time of the fair.

Caravan Salon bigger than ever: Compact mobile homes are the focus

With many innovations, mainly in the camper van area and new ideas for interiors, the caravanning industry is trying to hide the delivery problems at the Salon in Düsseldorf - at least for the time of the fair. An overview of the most important premieres.

This time it's back to full force. The Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf from August 26th to September 4th, the only large cross-industry trade fair that was able to take place as a live event in the past two Corona years despite all the restrictions, wants to be part of the 61st edition of the world's largest trade fair for leisure vehicles to continue with the times before the pandemic. Even more. With an expansion to 16 halls and 250,000 square meters of exhibition space with almost 700 exhibitors, the industry summit is the largest event in the history of the Salon.

It remains to be seen whether the record popularity of 2019 with almost 270,000 visitors can be broken. Because the caravanning scene is in a dilemma. On the one hand, the order books are full, at least for motorhomes, and on the other hand, supply chain problems as a result of Corona and the Ukraine war are affecting the entire line of business. Significantly longer delivery times and noticeable price increases, which are also due to inflation, could unsettle customers and dampen customer demand, which has remained high to date.

The manufacturers of the rolling homes are therefore pulling out all the stops in Düsseldorf to counteract the euphoria of the mobile home. A remarkable number of innovations currently reflects three major trends: the run on compact vehicles, more and more flexible solutions for the living space and the search for new basic vehicles, above all as an alternative to the Fiat Ducato, which is struggling with major delivery problems.

Although the latter was inevitably born out of necessity, it has already led to huge shifts. The Italians have already largely lost their absolutely dominant role as chassis suppliers. Especially in the camper vans, the Ford Transit is emerging as the biggest winner of this development. At Bürstner, the Cologne transporter forms the basis for the Copa camping bus and the new Lineo C590 high-roof van, which is to be supplemented by a smaller C550 version. The company from Kehl has thus shifted its focus from fully and partially integrated vehicles to the compact class in a very short time.

Dethleffs and LMC, sister brands from the Erwin Hymer Group, have included a similar Transit model in their portfolio: Dethleffs with the Globetrail 590c from 59,000 euros and LMC with the Innovan 590, which is significantly more expensive at around 68,000 euros as an edition model but practically has a full equipment on board. The big plus of the high-roof Ford is its interior standing height of just over two meters. The Carabus and Caratour models of the Knaus-Tabbert brand Weinsberg are now also on a Transit chassis. At Eura-Mobil, the Ford van has been in use for years, and at the Karmann panel van offshoot, it also forms the basis for the Duncan camper series, which was launched this year.

But other makes also benefit from the Fiat misery. The entry-level label Forster is switching to the Citroën Jumper for the camper van Livin'Up (from 47,800 euros), Frankia will soon be offering the noble camper van Yukon as an alternative to the Mercedes Sprinter as a Renault Trafic conversion, and Ahorn uses how always the Renault Master.

Mercedes had already gone on a successful tour of conquest with the Sprinter in the past two years, but is now hoping for another trump card with the mini campers. In Düsseldorf, the Swabians are unveiling a T-Class with camping equipment, which is to be sold through their own Mercedes dealership and is positioned as a competitor to the VW Caddy California.

The current situation obviously plays well into the hands of another transporter, which was highly praised at the beginning and which, despite everything, was not able to spread as widely as the Sprinter: the VW Crafter. Volkswagner is cooperating with two big players in the industry. Hobby wants to unveil a Crafter-based Maxia van at the Caravan Salon, which will compete with VW's own Grand California with a single bed layout and Scandinavian Hygge design.

The cooperation between the Knaus-Tabbert Group and the commercial vehicle division of VW is even more intensive. The Bavarians use the Crafter for the semi-integrated Van TI series, but also use the Bulli for their innovative interior ideas.

With the narrow, 5.88 meter long semi-integrated Tourer Van 500 MQ based on the T6.1, it's a question of bed or bathroom. If a shower is to be taken, the wet room is extended by a separate shower cubicle thanks to a foldable partition to the rear transverse bed. In the sleeping position, the shower is pushed together again so that the full width of the double bed is available. Curious: Dethleffs came up with the same idea for the Globetrail 590c, only here the bathroom extension is reached via a swivel wall and half of the rear transverse bed is folded up.

But Knaus promises another premiere for Düsseldorf. The Knaus Tourer CUV stands out simply because of its "Elvis quiff" above the driver's cab, which is due to the self-developed lifting roof. It can be hoisted up almost the entire length of the vehicle, enabling a consistent headroom of two meters.

As with many other models with swiveling and sliding washbasins or drop-down beds instead of built-in bunks - which favors either more storage space or more spacious seating areas - multifunctional floor plans should enable the best possible living comfort in the smallest of spaces. However, it must also prove to be practicable in everyday life.

The semi-integrated Bürstner Lyseo Gallery could shoot the bird in terms of innovation, which wants to combine the best of two worlds with an inflatable alcove: with the retracted bay window, the handiness of a semi-integrated vehicle and with the upper room inflated with compressed air, the generous space of an alcove model.

However, this could still be surpassed by the announced Hymer model, the production version of the much-praised Vision Venture concept vehicle from 2019. Bürstner was also inspired by it with the flexible upper floor.

With the large integrated models and luxury liners, the innovations are limited. Niesmann Bischoff is launching the new generation of the flagship Flair, which is available from 214,000 euros and is based on the design of the iSmove that was successfully launched last year. And Concorde is expanding the Credo series with the "small" Liner 740 HI (from 179,000 euros).

So when it comes to motorhomes, "compact is key", caravan manufacturers tend to concentrate on higher-priced products. This applies both to the new Tandero series from LMC (from 24,500 euros) with two single bed layouts, to the Tabbert Pep Pantiga (from 26,000 euros) and to the premium caravan Knaus Azur (from 39,500 euros), with the on the one hand, a model name from the 80s is revived, on the other hand, the most modern fiber frame technology is used.

The self-supporting and high-strength frame, which does not require any screw connections, ensures stability and durability. According to Knaus, the surface should even be "self-healing"; The material itself should be able to compensate for smaller pressure points and dents.

Hobby is expanding its top-of-the-line Maxia series, whose elegant, minimalist Hygge design from Scandinavia is also the template for the Crafter van, with the 585 UL floor plan with single beds and all-round seating group in the rear. Prices will only be announced in Düsseldorf.

In the case of the US cult caravan Airstream, general importer Roka in Germany is now also offering the shorter Bambi models 16 RB and 22 FB, but is already pushing it to the extreme. Because even the smaller version with a body length of only 4.20 meters and a total weight of 1.9 tons is not available for less than 85,000 euros.

Another German cult caravan is significantly cheaper. The Hymer sister Eriba celebrates the premiere of the new Touring in Düsseldorf. Modernized, unmistakable design, of course with a retro look and of course with a lifting roof. The new edition of the caravan, which was designed in 1956, is available in seven variants with body lengths of five to six metres. The price scale starts at 23,500 euros.

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