A’van, arguably Australia’s second-largest RV manufacturer will fire a rocket through the domestic RV market when it previews its new German-sourced, but soon Pakenham, Victoria-built range of Knaus caravans and motorhomes at the upcoming Victorian Caravan & Camping Show that opens at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse on March 6.
What will make the ‘Knaus by A’van’ models distinctly different to all other British and European vans previously and currently sold in Australia is that their ultra-modern unitary bodies will be fitted to more beefy Australian galvanised steel chassis, giving them added ground clearance and greater local buyer appeal.
They will also feature slightly larger wheels and tyres, below-floor Australian-sized water tanks, Australian dust-proofing technology, come with a rear steel bumper and will be equipped with Al-Ko 10-inch electric brakes, which will allow them to be optioned with Al-Ko’s new ESC Electronic Stability control.
Pricing for combined shower/toilet ensuite Knaus by A’van caravans is expected to start in the high $30,000 bracket and extend up to the mid to high $60,000 range, mirroring similar fully-imported vans from British-built Bailey and Swift.
The deal to make Knaus caravans and motorhomes in Australia has been three years in the making and was brokered by A’van founder Jeff Van Baardwyk with the Dutch investors who own the Knaus Tabbert company that is currently one of Europe’s largest RV manufacturers, with an annual output of around 50,000 units.
It will be Knaus’s first serious step into the international market, with others to follow and the vans displayed at the Melbourne Show are the first ones the company has built with a left hand entry for a right hand drive market.
Three of the four Knaus vans being displayed at Caulfield – the Australian range-topping 23ft 6in internal length and stunningly-styled Eurostar 590, the similar length mid-range Sudwind 590 and its smaller brother 17ft 9in Sudwind 450 – will be shown on their European Al-Ko chassis to gauge public reaction.
However an 18ft internal length Sport 460 will be displayed on a modified A’van chassis.
A’van managing director, Scott Van Baardwyk, who with his elder brother Jeffrey now runs the business started 21 years ago in Hallam by their parents, Jeff and Marion Van Baardwyk, believes that the majority of buyers will want their Knaus caravans Australian built on site at A’van’s current 22,000 square metre factory in Pakenham, Victoria.
“To most Australians, the local chassis looks more substantial and better suited to our conditions,” he said. “They will also like the fact that it will incorporate under-floor water tanks, a rear bumper and will have the sort of hitch that they are used to”.
He does not believe that the weight penalty of around 100kg per single axle model and an estimated 200kg per tandem axle van will be a barrier for buyers.
“We will still be offering high-quality German-designed, but Australian-built caravans mounted on a locally designed and proven chassis weighing as little as 1100-1200kg,” he said, estimating that the top of the range 24ft 6in internal length tandem axle Eurostar will weigh in at just over two tonnes on a local chassis.