Dan Cartwright has over 12 years of experience in the caravan and motorhome industry. He is a judge for a number of prestigious leisure vehicle awards and regularly heads off in his motorhome with his family. Every week, Dan shares his insights with the community. Here’s what he has to say this week.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) has just released its latest Leisure Vehicle Survey and while it shows satisfaction to be at an all-time high, there are still some areas ripe for improvement. Here are the top three things I’d like to see in caravans, motorhomes and van conversions or campervans.
Manufacturer-fitted wind-out awnings
People want awnings, but when they’re fitted by the manufacturer they slot into the frame better and are therefore stronger, causing less risk of damage. Large awnings are popular, but for many, it’s just about having a small awning to provide a quick and easy porch area that offers some protection from the elements.
Borrowing from our more expensive and more luxurious motorhome cousins, caravans should be fitted with an automatic step. A retractable step operated via a button by the door makes so much sense and avoids the issue of carrying a heavy and often dirty step that needs to be accommodated inside the caravan.
Better audio-visual technology
A lot of caravans have dedicated spaces, 12-volt/230-volt sockets and built-in aerials, which are all great, but not having the TV going through a speaker system seems outdated. Since many caravans already have speakers, they should be integrated with TV, Bluetooth and movie technology. Coupled with this, caravans need USB-C sockets as the USB-B provision many have are no longer useful.
Motorhomes have the biggest price bracket – ranging from £50,000 to £500,000, so there’s a lot of specification available at the higher end of the market. But there are a number of things that mainstream motorhomes could benefit from.
Better connectivity between the cab and the habitation
This is something that was mentioned in the Leisure Vehicle Survey, demonstrating the desire for media to be linked between the two parts of the motorhome. Being able to use speakers that hook up to the cab and the rest of the vehicle, as well as integrated with the TV is technology we need. Habitation technology is almost always poorer than that in the cab, so it should just be run together.
Motorhomes are often fitted with parking sensors, but the majority of owners have a piece of paper in the cab reminding them of the height of their vehicle. Height sensors seem like a no-brainer and could avoid major accidents with car park barriers or low bridges. If you’re putting sensors into a motorhome, then having height sensors doesn’t seem difficult.
There’s been a move towards filling the whole back half of motorhomes with beds, meaning models with rear lounges have become the minority. With drop-down bed technology you can have a lounge and press a button to have a huge bed appear when you’re not using it. Having a front lounge is never comfortable, things aren’t in the optimum position and there are space limitations.
Van conversions and campervans
Better battery technology
Van conversions and campervans are now becoming more off-grid capable, with solar panels and the ability to charge batteries when you’re not driving. These are being used for one or two-night trips or longer multiple-stop holidays, as highlighted in the survey, with the batteries being charged comprehensively while driving. But what’s missing is proper lithium battery technology, which would massively improve off-grid capability.
Improved energy usage monitoring
We have it in domestic properties, but not in leisure vehicles, so it’s time we’re allowed to properly understand energy usage in our campervans through sufficient monitoring. By understanding how much energy certain things take, you could learn what your off-grid capabilities are. Money could be saved by knowing what you’re going to be using and not opting for electrical hook-up.
The Leisure Vehicle Survey shows that campervans and panel vans are being used all year round and are conduits for people to enjoy the great outdoors and their specific activities. The rise of pop-tops is making these types of leisure vehicles increasingly popular with families, expanding sleeping capabilities from two to four. But the current crop of pop-tops are poorly insulated and not up to cold or windy conditions. Inflatable insulation would easily solve this.
Do check out the Leisure Vehicle Survey to read the interesting stats that came to light. It’s a huge undertaking by the CAMC and it’s great to see how leisure vehicles are progressing, which is borne out in net promoter scores being up and faults being down.
Consumers are happier both with their dealers and their manufacturers, with the second-hand market also proving to be very content. We’re at 80 per cent satisfaction on all caravan experiences and approaching that proportion for motorhomes and campervans too.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Kevin Schmid