Is it in the looks?
Mirroring what the automotive industry did several years ago, today the standard wheels for touring caravans are alloys. The reason is purely cosmetic – or is it?
Despite a market impacted by a global recession, decreasing flight prices and increasing timeshare ownership, the touring caravan market is still going strong with more than 4 million caravans in use across Europe. In the UK, the market talks about a “staycation” trend, and the caravan owner is as devoted as always and still cares about details.
“We have fitted alloys as standard for more than 15 years. This is mainly for aesthetic reasons and is expected from our customers,” explains Ian Kershaw, Coachman’s Technical Director who has been in the industry for more than 20 years.
British caravan manufacturer Coachman is amongst the top 10 caravan manufacturers in Europe. They have a yearly turnover at around 30m EUR and employ 180 people. The UK is the largest touring caravan manufacturing base in Europe, where eleven manufactures account for 98% of all caravans produced.
Customisation is key
Coachman have recently signed a three year, a 100% supply agreement with STARCO, making STARCO sole supplier of all wheels and tyres for the full Coachman range. The partnership started a couple of years ago, and today both parties benefit from close collaboration.
“Our ability to provide a high quality bespoke product, supported by our in-depth knowledge of the application is key to our success,” says Shaun Jones, Trailer & Caravan Segment Director at STARCO with 25 years of industry experience. He continues: “Unlike our competitors, we don’t just offer a range of alloys with designs chosen by us. We do of course have standard styles, but what appeals to more and more manufacturers is the option to have a bespoke design, thus creating and enforcing their own brand identity. Once a design is chosen, we then look at paint and finish. The customer can choose colour, finish and even diamond cut.”
Shaun Jones explains how this approach has resulted in STARCO expanding significantly into the touring caravan market across Europe.
Most of the alloy wheels offered by STARCO are manufactured in-house. Last year STARCO supplied more than 30,000 alloy wheels across Europe, and the volume is growing. Additionally, spare wheels are made by STARCO too. STARCO manufacturers steel wheels in the ISO9001 certified factories in Croatia and China. Read more about STARCO’s manufacturing setup here.
“We are currently having a new 15 inch alloy wheel developed in the existing Coachman style. This is for a new model which is being prototyped now and will soon be launched to the market. Specifications have changed in regards to weight, and hence we will fit and upgrade to the 15 inch bespoke wheel design to match the design trends better,” says Kershaw and to the question about the development process, he promptly replies: “It’s a partnership!” and elaborates how partnership in the development phase is key to ensure the optimum high-quality solution they expect.
The new 15 inch complete assembly with high-quality KargoMax tyre from GiTi will soon be ready for TUV testing.
To the question about whether the alloys are purely cosmetic the caravan manufacturer and wheel supplier agrees:
“Yes, to a very large extent the reason for alloys are purely cosmetic, however they are lighter, reducing unsprung weight and more corrosion-resistant compared to steel wheels,” explains Shaun Jones.
In general, the caravan and motorhome market in the UK are experiencing growth. Whether it’s the “staycation” trend alone is not certain, however Coachman anticipates significant growth in the coming years and states that most competitors predict an approximate 10 % growth this year compared to 2016.
The Coachman Caravan Company was first formed in 1986. Establishing a small manufacturing plant in Hull, with just a handful of staff the company began to create its first range – the Coachman. Unveiled at the NEC in February 1987, Coachman received positive feedback from the industry. 20 dealers were appointed to sell the range and the first year’s production topped 200 units. Today a lot has changed; however some things have remained the same; every Coachman is still built by fully trained craftspeople, to the highest standards using state-of-the-art construction methods and materials. Luxury and comfort are guaranteed and our extensive range means that you will find a caravan to perfectly meet your needs.
Sarah Møller Lundberg
Group Communications Manager
Segment Director, Trailer and Caravan
+44 7 572 903 812
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