Since their introduction on the West Coast in the 1990s, toy haulers have rapidly become a nationwide phenomenon, particularly among motorcycle enthusiasts. We at Mid-State RV Center have watched as people interested in toy haulers went from a niche in our customer base to now being a key segment.
Early toy haulers were little more than cargo trailers fitted with a ramp door. They didn’t really take off until they included basic living quarters, and elements that appeal to the motorsports audience. Now, however, the product has evolved far beyond that to boast all the comforts and conveniences of modern recreational vehicles.
“When they first came out were all about diamond plate and racing flags, basically man caves on wheels,” says Darin Mai, a factory rep for Forest River’s XLR line of toy haulers.
Mai says that when manufacturers started incorporating aesthetic improvements that give modern toy haulers “a more residential fit and finish,” they gained mass appeal.
“We’ve been able to draw in what I call ‘action campers’ – folks who don’t just go somewhere and park their camper and look at the ocean,” he says. “These are people who want to take their ATVs, their motorcycles, their mountain bikes with them.
As a result, Mai says XLR has been able to attract RVers who previously owned traditional travel trailers and fifth wheels, but want the versatility of the toy hauler.
“They get to take more stuff with them,” he says.
Even motorhome owners are finding out that towable toy haulers are a better fit for their lifestyle, because rather than towing an enclosed trailer behind their motorhome, towing a toy hauler with a pickup truck gives them a “drive away” vehicle once they’re set up at the campsite. Otherwise they’d have to raise jacks and unhook their motorhome to run into town for groceries or adult beverages.
XLR is the only toy hauler manufacturer that makes a product for every segment of the toy hauler market. From 42-foot fifth wheel car haulers down to 24-foot travel trailers, XLR has you covered with their Thunderbolt, Nitro, and Hyperlite lines.
By contrast, Forest River’s Work and Play line of toy haulers have done extremely well through the years with very little change to the actual product.
Work and Play has been the top-selling toy hauler for seven straight years and there’s no sign that anybody is going to steal their crown.
Because nobody else makes a product quite like the Work & Play toy hauler.
Ed Salomon, factory rep for Work and Play, spells it out in bullet points:
· “We are the only manufacturer that uses a one-piece aluminum roof, instead of a rubber roof.”
· “We are the only manufacturer that has payload capacities between 5,000 and 7,000 lbs.”
· “We are the only manufacturer that has their chassis built at a motorhome chassis plant rather than at a towable chassis plant.”
Salomon points out that those chassis are the reason Work & Play haulers can handle heavier cargo –not only do they have larger axles than are found on competitors’ products, but also the chassis have steel cross-member I-beams that are 16” on center, rather than 48” on center.
“The construction aspect is what makes (Work and Play) different,” Salomon says, adding that because the Work and Play stands lower to the ground, it’s easier to drive bikes and other toys because the transition at the ramp entrance is lower profile.
One other factor separate Work & Play from other toy hauler manufacturers , and that is Fiberglass Reinforced Plywood, or FRP for short.
“Our FRP sidewall is manufactured by Crane Composites, who provides the exact same sidewall to manufacturers of million-dollar motorhomes,” Salomon said. “Nobody else uses this kind of sidewall.”
He said some of the hottest-selling Work and Play floor plans are the half-ton towable 18EC and the V-nose “Toro” models. All that top-notch construction is paired up with a product that comes “loaded” with standard features that other manufacturers only offer as options.
Rex Gambill is digital marketing manager for Mid-State RV Center, Georgia’s largest RV dealer. Located in Byron, Ga., Mid-State RV is among the top toy hauler dealers in the Southeast, and is the number-four Work and Play dealer in the world.
Have you heard of the new trend?
They’re called “tiny homes” or “tiny houses,” and they pack everything you need into a small space. Many of them come on wheels so you can move them from place to place.
A recent article in The Macon Telegraph entitled “There’s no place like a tiny home” (Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014) breathlessly described a tiny home that “includes a loft for the bed, a full-size shower and toilet, a fold-out sofa bed, a flat panel TV, a small-sized refrigerator, a stove top, a built-in microwave, an A/C unit and a gas-powered fireplace among its amenities.”
Could be me, but this sounds suspiciously like a travel trailer.
But maybe it’s different:
“The house weighs about 7,500 pounds and can be hauled with an SUV or pickup truck, Ryals said. Its dimensions are 22 feet long by 8 1/2 feet wide by 13 feet high.”
Nope, still sounds like a travel trailer. A small one.
“ ‘It’s all street legal,’ she said. ‘It’s classified as an RV. (Tiny homes) are a little bit of a gray area right now.’ ”
Hmm. A gray area? I say, if it sounds like an RV, looks like an RV, pulls like an RV, is classified as an RV, it just might be an RV.
Now, truthfully, I have nothing against fellow small business owners who sell a product that’s similar to what we sell, and I wish them all the success in the world. The more the merrier!
But this “tiny home” – while admittedly appealing – is no bargain compared to some of the RVs we have on the lot here at Mid-State RV Center.
For instance, a travel trailer that approximates the dimensions of the tiny home in the news article looks something like this:
That’s a few feet longer, but thousands of dollars cheaper than the tiny home priced at $28,500 (according to the article). And yes, it has all of the same features as the tiny home.
You may ask, how much RV could one get for that kind of money?
Well, how about a destination trailer? These are travel trailers, typically longer than 35 feet, that are designed to be placed semi-permanently on a site such as a campground or lake lot.
What if I could show you a 40’9” destination trailer that we can sell for almost the same price as a 22’ tiny home?
Because here it is:
Not bad, eh? Sure, maybe it’s not as cute as the tiny home, but it’s almost twice as large, and probably a lot easier to finance. No “gray area” here … we’ve been financing travel trailers over 25 years.
Yes, I know that travel trailers are not meant for full-time living, so yes, that’s a significant difference between the tiny home and an RV. But different strokes for different folks – the fact remains you can get a whole lot more RV for the same money as that tiny home.
So if you’re intrigued by the idea of a tiny home, come take a look at what else is out there. A travel trailer RV might be a better fit for your needs, and your budget.
Cliff Hatfield, one of our product specialists, was on hand to greet families and share information about the motorhome, RVs, and camping in general.
To qualify, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that:
*An RV with full facilities can qualify as a "dwelling unit" under the IRS code section 280A(f)(1). The U.S. tax court case of Haberkorn v. Commissioner, 75 T.C. 259 (Nov. 12, 1980 filed) gives further guidance on the tax deductibility of RVs. Taxpayers many not claim the interest from more than two qualified homes on their tax returns. Ask your tax adviser for more information.
By Tony Sippel, RV product manager at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation
As vehicles meeting 2010 EPA emissions requirements are hitting the market, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) has begun to receive feedback from our motorhome dealerships and potential customers. We’ve noticed that people are often confused about what exactly diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is, how it works and how it fits into the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.
DEF is a solution stored in a tank, which is injected into the exhaust stream, reacting with the Nitrous Oxide (NOx) in the SCR catalyst, forming harmless nitrogen and water. Let’s take a moment, though to further dispel the myths and fully answer questions regarding DEF.
MYTH: SCR technology does not meet EPA 2010 emissions regulations.
FACT: The EPA has approved SCR technology for 2010 emissions regulations. SCR technology is a long-term solution, working to reduce fuel consumption directly tied to carbon-dioxide emissions and significantly decreasing the amount of noxious gasses in the exhaust.
MYTH: DEF is corrosive, hazardous and unsafe to handle.
FACT: DEF is two-thirds water. It is an organic, nontoxic compound made of 32.5 percent urea and 67.5 percent de-ionized water. DEF is carefully regulated by the American Petroleum Institute. Also, urea solution is not flammable and is not deemed “hazardous” by any United States or Canadian transportation authority.
MYTH: Urea becomes toxic at 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
FACT: According to James Spooner, vice president and general manager at Colonial Chemical Company, urea does not become toxic at any temperature. At 122 degrees Fahrenheit, DEF will still meet ISO specifications of less than 0.2 percent ammonia for at least 35 days. At that rate, it would take more than two years to reach the ammonia level of household ammonia, which obviously is not classified as toxic.
MYTH: DEF solution is a significant added expense for vehicle owners.
FACT: The industry is expecting the cost of DEF solution to be parallel with the price of fuel, fluctuating between $2.50 and $3.50 per gallon. Just 2.5 gallons of DEF will yield more than 800 miles of travel. FCCC uses 10 and 13 gallon tanks. Drivers should expect to refill their DEF tank three times a year. Also, through extensive testing, Cummins Engine realized a 5 percent to 9 percent fuel economy advantage with SCR over the alternative in-cylinder EGR solution, which amounts to significant savings over time.
MYTH: Refilling the DEF tank is a hassle for vehicle owners.
FACT: The DEF tank is as easily accessible to drivers as the gasoline tank. Think of it this way: Refilling your DEF tank is like refilling your windshield wiper fluid. It’s something that is completed a few times a year, taking no more than five or 10 minutes.
With so many myths out there, it’s easy to see why motorhome dealers and drivers have questions about DEF and SCR technology. We hope this has helped clear up any confusion on the topic you may have experienced. If you do have questions or would like more information about DEF and SCR technology, please visit www.factsaboutscr.com or post your questions here, and I’ll be sure to follow up with you.
Jeff and Lisa Leggett of Cobb, Ga., bought a travel trailer from me last month.
As it turns out, Lisa's cousin Eric Boe is the pilot of the Shuttle Endeavor, which launched Friday, Nov. 14, 2008. Jeff and Lisa attended the launch, and shot video footage from the family viewing area.
Thanks to you both!
In Europe, RVs are called "caravans."
Whatever you call them, I have never seen anything quite like the Mehrzeller.
Below is the text of a press release from the Austrian company that is selling these unique campers.
Caravans are cool again!
Mobility and living on the move are very important themes of our fast-moving age. People want to be mobile but at the same time, have a strong desire for a lasting home and their own personal four walls. In the camper market there is strong demand for new design and personalized, tailor-made solutions. Individualist tourists want a caravan that is made just for them.
The solution to the problem is offered by the “Mehrzeller” – the multicellular caravan. Using the online Configurator, every user sets up a design that is unique, their own layout that they can identify with. The configuration is generated by a computer using the customer’s inputs, and then the final design is done by parameters from the architects to yield an attractive and practicable result. The caravans are produced using the principles of “mass customization”: this allows both the individual wishes of the customer to be accommodated while producing the caravan with series methods. The cost of producing these unique caravans is only marginally more than a conventional mass-produced model.
The Mehrzeller thus introduces a new generation of mobile living. The project, which began as a degree project in Architecture at the Technical University of Graz, can be realized thanks to the support of many respected companies such as Design Composite, Alko, Truma, Dometic, Waeco, Alphatronics, Alugas, Jokon, Fiamma, Cleversolar, Simona, Moralt, Reimo, BMW and others.
The prototype of the Mehrzeller is being presented to the public for the first time at the Caravan-Salon 2008 in Düsseldorf from 29.08 - 07.09.2008 in Hall 15, Stand A48. There’ll be another opportunity to see the prototype at the Caravan Salon Austria from 15 -19.10.2008 in Wels.
For further information, visit www.mehrzeller.com
Heartfelt thanks to Travis and Wendy Mullis of Cleveland, Ga. They bought a 2005 Coachmen Catalina 730TBS travel trailer. And even deeper thanks to previous customer Michael Mazarky for referring Travis to me!
There is no greater praise than for a customer to refer his friends to me. I am humbled!
RESTON, Va. — Despite record-breaking fuel prices, typical RV trips remain the least expensive type of vacation, according to a new study comparing vacation costs.
PKF Consulting, an international consulting firm with expertise in travel and tourism, found that “typical RV family vacations are on average 27 to 61 percent less expensive than other types of vacations studied.”
Even factoring in RV ownership and fuel costs, the study reveals that RV family vacations tend to be significantly less expensive than other types of vacations.
“This study re-affirms what RVers have long known, that RV vacations deliver greater economic value compared to other types of vacations,” says Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “RV vacations continue to be the most affordable way for a family to travel because of the tremendous savings on air, hotel and restaurant costs. And these savings offset the cost of fuel.”
PKF analyzed major costs that would be incurred by a family of four taking eight different types of vacations for three, seven, 10 or 14 days to such popular travel destinations as the Grand Canyon, Cape Cod, and Napa, Calif.
“On average, RV vacations were more economical than the other types analyzed in all but one case,” says Kannan Sankaran, PKF’s lead researcher for the study. “Even as fuel prices increase, our findings show that almost all RV vacations are still significantly less expensive than non-RV ones.”
Fuel prices would have to more than double for typical motorhome vacations to become more expensive than other forms of travel, according to PKF Consulting. The study also shows that fuel costs would have to more than triple for trips in lightweight travel trailers or folding camping trailers to be more expensive than the least expensive non-RV vacation. Almost 80 percent of the RV market consists of towable RVs, including lightweight units which can be towed by car, van or pickup.
RV owner John Bargo, a computer operator from Milwaukee, Wis., agrees with PKF’s findings. “When you figure the cost of driving in a car, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, it’s a lot more expensive than bringing your lodging and food with you.”
Dennis Silipena, a 55-year-old service and parts manager from Hammonton, N.J., also appreciates the affordability of RV travel. “I’ve owned an RV for 25 years and I’ve enjoyed significant savings over other types of vacations. I pay $30 to $40 to stay in a campground rather than $150 to stay in a hotel. And it’s a much nicer experience staying in my RV.”
The study showed that a family of four traveling from Phoenix, Ariz. to Napa, Calif., with their folding camping trailer for 10 days, staying in campgrounds at the local average of $33 per night, would save 52 percent, or $2,379, over the same trip taken by car, staying in hotels averaging $122 per night and eating in restaurants. Taking the same vacation by a Type C motorhome would save $1,704, or 37 percent, over going by car.
A week-long family vacation towing a conventional travel trailer from Salt Lake City to the Grand Canyon compared to the cost of taking the same trip by airline, renting a car and staying in a hotel would be $2,647, or 65 percent less expensive.
Shorter getaways by RVs were also found to be more economical. For example, a family taking a three-day vacation from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Lancaster, Pa., would save $323 or 31 percent by towing a conventional travel trailer, rather than going by car, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. The savings would be even greater — $889 or 52 percent — for families taking the same trip by a Type C motorhome rather than flying.
Among the RV vacations analyzed by PKF, even those taken in an ultra-luxury Type A diesel motorhome were less expensive than flying and staying in a hotel. Only a family taking a vacation by personal car with hotel or renting a condo and cooking for themselves would spend less than a family taking a trip in a Type A motorhome. “Owners say the added space, comfort and convenience while traveling justify the investment in a Type A,” noted Coon.
In addition to major expenditures required from the start to finish of each vacation, PKF factored in an estimated cost of ownership of the RVs analyzed: a folding camping trailer, conventional travel trailer, and Type C and Type A motorhomes. Research included documenting average ownership periods, residual values, annual days of use, insurance and applicable interest deductions.
“RV vacations are a great way for families to spend time together and bond,” said Coon. “Whether it’s in a luxury motorhome or a basic folding camping trailer, RV vacations offer value that lasts a lifetime.”
The PKF study considered only quantifiable economic factors, not the comparative quality of each vacation. As a result, the convenience, flexibility and quality family time cited as major benefits of traveling in an RV could not be addressed.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (rvia.org) is the national association representing more than 500 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.
SOURCE: RV Industry Association press release
I also enjoyed meeting Mike's dad, who joined Mike for the walk-through orientation. Pictured are (from left) Michael Mazarky and Mid-State RV Center's quality assurance coordinator, Dan Bellamy.
Mike and Myra Mikos of Oviedo, Fla., pose in front of the stunning 2009 Gulf Stream SuperNova 6400 diesel "super C" motorhome they purchased this week from me here at Mid-State RV Center.
Mike Mikos, owner/operator of KEM-Performance Inc., has a well-deserved reputation in the industry for his expertise in tuning and calibrating diesel engines, including the International 6.0L VT-365 under the hood of his new SuperNova. No doubt he'll be juicing it up to enhance fuel economy!
I would also like to thank my fellow product specialist Dennis Price here at Mid-State RV Center, as well as Paul Genovese with Gulf Stream Coach, for their assistance in getting a new SuperNova delivered from Indiana to the customer within 3 days. Extra special appreciation is directed toward the heroes in our Service Department - including Gary Scarbrough and Chuck Shadron - for helping get this unit prepped for delivery in record time.
My deepest gratitude goes out to Myra and Mike! All the best, guys.
The Bridgemans (pictured from left, Tammy and Shawn) traveled a long way to get this toy hauler, but they definitely got a deal. I'm glad they agree with me that Mid-State RV was worth the drive!
I just wanted to publicly thank Mr. Jack Iversen, who recently answered a technical question I had about flat-towing a Honda Odyssey. He has a 2006 Honda Pilot and he flat-tows it, although he cautioned that Honda is only saying that the CR-V can be flat-towed.
Anyway, a tip of the hat to RV buddy Jack Iversen!