The boss of Bailey Australia has hit back at suggestions the cutting-edge, British-built caravans are not tough enough to withstand Australia's harsh road conditions.
Bailey Australia's Adrian Van Geelen said while the recently introduced, three-model range of Bailey on-road vans have yet to be proven Down Under, they have a serious reputation for ruggedness and durability overseas due to having been subjected to a number of van-busting endurance tests.
Van Geelen was responding to comments from Caravancampingsales.com.au reader, Arthur Gray, who wrote via email: "Where can I get an unbiased appraisal of the Bailey as well as other caravans of a similar type ie. European or mono construction units?
"The majority of Australian caravan dealers when asked about these vans are scathing, bordering on downright rude, when asked to rate the finish and design of European vans against Australian-built units that can be rather shoddy in their finish, even when dressed up for caravan shows," Gray said.
"One comment made at the recent Wollongong show was that a European van only has a life of three years under Australian conditions. Are they right or are they frightened of competition?"
Van Geelen said that Bailey Caravans has a proven track record, with a distinguished 64-year manufacturing history and current annual production of up to 12,000 RVs in the UK.
He said an Australian-spec Bailey Unicorn caravan recently successfully completed a marathon endurance test on Germany's punishing AL-KO test track, which has been described as a "caravan graveyard".
While all Bailey Alu-Tech models are required to undertake gruelling tests at the UK's Millbrook Proving Ground, it was felt that additional torture-testing was required in order to satisfy the demands of the Australian market.
A Bailey Unicorn Cabrera, featuring an AL-KO chassis, Alu-Tech bodyshell and GRP outer skin, successfully completed 1000 laps of the track which, based on AL-KO calculations, simulates a performance of 100,000km of usage.
The 1km long circuit in Markbronn, Germany mimicks some of the worst driving surfaces an on-road caravan is ever likely to experience, including teeth-rattling sections of potholes, paving stones and rumble strips.
According to Van Geelen, "It's the first caravan in the world to do it and survive."
Bailey Australia has further plans for extensive 'real world' testing on Australian roads in coming months, with the aim to clock up around 10,000km over a series of trips on one test van.
"We've already done hundreds of kilometres of gravel (road testing in Australia) so far, and we've had no issues," he said. "But we'll be sticking mostly to the blacktop, as the vans with their limited road clearance are not designed specifically for off-road.
"I don't think we're going to have any problems proving that our van is acceptable for Australian road conditions. But we still don't want it to go off-road, and it doesn't need to go off-road," Van Geelen said.