Last September, Erwin Hymer Group of North America took advantage of the Hershey Recreational Vehicle Show to showcase three models of caravans that are soon to appear in the North American market. At the end of November, the company was re-offending by showing these models again at the Louisville, KY show. Camping Caravaning had also echoed this good news in its March-April edition.
You will also recall that on this blog, in a post published on March 19, entitled A Very Severe Opinion, I reported an interview with Jim Hammil, the great boss of EHGNA, in which he made very tough comments about the quality Caravans made on our continent. All this to put you in context.
The caravans unveiled at Hershey do not yet roll on our roads, but it will not be long. Hymer acquired a factory made available following the setbacks of the BlackBerry phone company in Kitchener ON. Currently, the company is working to adapt this factory which will be entirely devoted to the manufacture of its caravans.
Even if they are built on our continent, Hymer caravans will benefit from design and manufacturing technology from Germany, which in itself is already a guarantee of quality. Marketed since 1958 under the Eriba brand, the Touring series has become a European icon as well as Airstream in America. Responding to the tastes and needs of modern campers, Touring will shortly begin its conquest of the new continent. It is to be expected, however, that the variation proposed here differs somewhat from the European model.
In Europe, to increase the internal volume, the Touring has a rigid roof that can be lifted, but the sides are made of canvas incorporating mosquito nets. However, market research has shown that our neighbors, refractory to canvas walls, prefer a fixed roof. Moreover, for them, the presence of an air conditioner is a must. The caravans of the Hymer company that will crisscross our roads will therefore be adapted to the North American whims.
However, transforming and adding accessories such as a microwave oven may add weight to these caravans known for their lightness as well as their solidity. This overweight seems unfortunately the price to pay to be accepted Americans.
The models presented at Hershey and Louisville had exceptional qualities in weight. Depending on the length, their unladen mass varied from 900 to 961 kg while the weight transferred on the attachment of the car was of barely 45 kg. These characteristics, which are really not used to, ensured that a Touring could be towed by almost any car. In Hershey, the tractor used was a Mini Cooper.
Its Al-Ko chassis, incorporating an anti-separation system and an independent suspension axle, opens up a towing physics that is not known here. This concept, which prevails throughout Europe, ignores the towing standards applied by the US industry where a much greater weight is transferred to the tie. I must confess that you are particularly looking forward to a road test of this new approach to towing.
During the summer, I plan to go to Ontario to visit the plant where these small caravans will be made to learn more about this product that is likely to make waves in the industry. Until then, to make you wait and to tickle your imagination, here is a link that will allow you to get a better idea of these caravans. Even though this is the European version of the Touring, what will be offered in America should look very much like the 542 with twin beds displaying a tip in the center.