"It was a slam dunk, because the Via is clearly the most complete, integrated concept – from drawing board to finished product – that we've seen in quite some time," said RV Business Publisher Sherman Goldenberg, whose staff annually selects what they consider the most innovative and competitive new products on display at the industry's key trade show. "It seems to gracefully meet the evolving definition of a Class A motorhome in a world in which expectations, and many of the industry's potential buyers are rapidly changing."
In fact, in the view of RV Business, a publication of Calif.-based Affinity Media, the 2010 Via/Reyo should help set the pace for what many believe is the imminent transformation of at least part of the U.S. motorhome sector. The Via/Reyo exhibits a transition from larger units to a more compact 21st century style of motorized traveling and camping vehicle, which appeals to a younger generation intent on style, functionality and affordability.
Part of the reason the Via/Reyo appears as such a complete concept, according to Bill O'Leary, vice president of product development for Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa, is the fact that it was a project spawned by Winnebago's senior management two years ago – well before the gas price spike and economic downturn of 2008. As a result, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to short-term economic trends, the Via/Reyo represents more of a far-sighted view of what some motorhome-building insiders see as the American motorhome of the future.
"This was not something that was created overnight," O'Leary explained. "A vehicle of this magnitude takes a lot of investment as far as design and tooling and testing. This is a new 2010 product that will launch this spring or summer. We think it's a product for today's market, being fuel efficient and very highly styled. It should make a huge impact on today's market."
O'Leary claims the Via/Reyo, with its European influenced interiors, should be the highest miles-per-gallon vehicle available in the Class A market at more than 15 mpg.
The respectable fuel efficiency is due to a wind-cutting design, light weight construction and the first-time use of a front-diesel Dodge Sprinter F-50 "cowl" chassis, a body-free version of the imported, 11,030-pound-GVWR Mercedes-Benz van chassis currently utilized in FedEx delivery trucks, European ambulances and an increasing number of smaller American-made Class B and C motorhomes. The Via/Reyo, retailing in the $130,000s, is powered by a 154-hp, 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz turbocharged V-6 diesel engine.
Two other new products debuting at the industry's Louisville show worthy of "honorable mention" include:
· Damon's Avanti Class A: The 31-foot Avanti from Thor's Damon Motor Coach division is yet
another example of a farsighted motorized concept offering a likely peek into the future. Built on
a modified 16,000-pound GVWR Workhorse W-16D chassis, the ground-hugging Avanti is
powered by a 200-hp International Max Force diesel engine that's expected to get about 14.5
mpg. Interiors on the $140,000 Avanti, which went into production in November, feature a
drop-down cockpit bunk system and yacht-like decor.
· Heartland's Edge Travel Trailer: A wide array of companies have been busy developing a new
wave of smaller – yet stylish and upscale – trailers unlike anything the American consumer has
seen before. In fact, these new towables are comparable in so many ways that it was
ultimately the cosmetics – top-shelf eye appeal – that made the biggest difference for Heartland
RV LLC's 13-21-foot Edge. Weighing less than 2,800 pounds and towable by crossover
vehicles, the 18-foot, tandem-axle, fully equipped Edge on display at Louisville retails for
Meanwhile, Dutchmen Mfg. Inc. was named 2008's Innovator of the Year for its aggressive pursuit of a variety of innovative, new age trailer designs. New designs include a classic 12-foot T@G teardrop, a 500-pound TOPO crossover "basecamp" tent trailer and an all-composite EcoLogic microlite travel trailer – an 18-footer containing light-weight German windows and varied composite types.