Fleetwood RV challenges conventional wisdom with this concept coach, which would usher in the next generation of RV design in hopes of appealing to RVers who enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle.
By Lazelle D. Jones
Bob Dylan’s protest anthem of the 1960s, “The Times, They Are A-Changin’,” was embraced by young listeners of that generation as a call to action. Fleetwood RV has endeavored to bring that mode of thinking to the RV world with its Nex-Gen ASV type A motorhome. This concept coach represents a radical departure from traditional motorhome design.
Although the coach is not in production at this time, its arrival on the RV scene in late 2000 created a stir that endures to this day.
“Fleetwood designed the Nex-Gen ASV concept coach in order to test consumer reaction and determine consumer demand,” said Bob Rogers, consumer marketing manager for Fleetwood RV. According to the company, the Nex-Gen ASV concept was received favorably by Fleetwood’s dealers, as well as by consumers and those in the RV industry.
With younger, activity-driven consumers looking hard at the motorhome lifestyle, and with RV enthusiasts in ever-increasing numbers gravitating to fitness- and action-related sports, the time has come for a whole new generation of recreation vehicles to support these kinds of needs. Fleetwood’s Nex-Gen ASV is designed to support the activity-driven enthusiast while also providing a domicile replete with all the creature comforts.
When trying to describe the Nex-Gen ASV, a good place to start is by defining the ASV acronym that comes attached to the name. It means “Activity Support Vehicle.” Whether one’s interests include biking, surfing, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, hunting, off-roading, boating, jet-skiing, or snowmobiling, the Nex-Gen ASV is designed to facilitate those who pursue any of these lifestyles.
First, the Nex-Gen ASV can get enthusiasts of these activities and all of their toys where they want to go. Second, it supports primitive, stand-alone camping and does so without compromising on amenities. The choice of exterior and interior surfaces and materials make the Nex-Gen ASV look good, even when it’s been subjected to dirt, mud, water, and food and beverage spills. The interior and exterior surfaces can be cleaned easily after a weekend of tracking the outside world inside. Through the use of fluorescent colors and creative graphics, and with bold new exterior lines that will challenge the most stoic individual to a second and even a third look, the Nex-Gen ASV makes a visual statement.
Fully equipped, the Nex-Gen ASV concept coach would have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price in the $80,000 range. The concept motorhome is 29 feet long and 102 inches wide, and it is designed to be available with either a Workhorse P32 chassis (with an 8.1-liter Vortec V-8 engine) or the Ford F-450 chassis (with a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine). It has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 17,000 pounds.
The exterior of the Nex-Gen ASV concept coach has several distinct design and functional features that are immediately apparent. Beginning at the front of the vehicle, Fleetwood has included four black PIAA competition-style running lights above the front bumper. These lights can be adjusted manually to project illumination where it is needed. Not only do they take the looks of the Nex-Gen up another notch aesthetically, but they also light up the road in places where standard headlights never shine. The frame to which these lights are mounted is fashioned from heavy-gauge welded tubular steel and finished in a bright anodized color. This look finds its way to the rear bumper and the universal sports rack that can carry kayaks, surfboards, bikes, or other toys. This same rugged industrial look is also found on the roof, and one gets there via perhaps the most substantial ladder ever used on an RV. The roof platform is designed to accommodate above-the-crowd viewing and comes equipped with waist-level rails that surround the platform and fold down when not in use. Accenting the roofline forward of the viewing platform are stylish anodized tubular steel rails; adjustable black docking lights that match the running lights up front are mounted here. There’s also room for a cargo carrier to be attached.
What Fleetwood has intentionally done in this concept vehicle is to present a rugged, high-tech, industrial appearance that gives the Nex-Gen ASV its individuality. In addition to its lines, bold graphics, bright colors, running lights, and large exterior rails, small things such as the lugs that hold the trim around the wheel wells are boldly accented in stainless steel. Even the recessed areas that surround these lugs are accented, drawing attention to them instead of disguising them.
Hidden exterior features include a plethora of storage bays. The rear bay provides vehicle-wide pass-through storage. The bays are rotocast-formed structures that can be cleaned easily. The insulated aluminum bay doors are outfitted with pneumatic struts to hold them open. The holding tanks are heated so that parking or staying in cold-weather venues such as ski resorts is possible. Capacities for the fresh water, gray water, and waste water tanks are 50 gallons, 29 gallons, and 24 gallons, respectively. The LP-gas tank holds 24 gallons, and the LP-gas-fueled water heater holds 6 gallons. The fuel tank on the Workhorse chassis has a 60-gallon capacity, while the tank on the Ford chassis has a 75-gallon capacity. Both should yield a respectable driving range between fuel stops of 400 to 500 miles.
The interior of the Nex-Gen ASV reveals a marked departure from conventional type A design and functionality. Low maintenance, utility, and comfort are emphasized. As noted, the Nex-Gen ASV is targeted at action-seeking outdoor sports enthusiasts who typically get away to enjoy their favorite activities over a long weekend. They may not be concerned about the “dirt factor.” This is underscored and evidenced by the interior appointments and the floor plan.
For example, the interior floor (fore and aft) is dressed with slip-resistant textured PVC covering designed to withstand damage or permanent soiling from water or dirt tracked inside. Custom-made floor mats embossed with the Nex-Gen ASV logo can be removed and taken outside for cleaning. Immediately inside the unit, to the left of the stairwell, is a cubby where wet shoes or boots can be stowed. To the right of the stairwell is a permanent place for the patented SoftPac cooler that is standard on the Nex-Gen ASV.
The fabrics used are not the traditional patterns found in many RVs. Instead, they have been selected to hide dirt, wear well, and clean up quickly. The same industrial appearance found outside characterizes the interior decor. Tubular brushed furniture framing is used. The windows adjacent to the dinette (which converts into a bed) and above the sofa-sleeper are noticeably large. For the driver, this makes the coach unusually friendly when it comes to checking for clearance or traffic on the sides of the motorhome.
Attached to the backs of the two cockpit seats are “grab and run” backpacks for hiking, biking, or other activities. The backpacks are part of a larger SoftPac system that allows the user to store personal items in their compartments and then hang the SoftPacs on the coach walls, in the bathroom, or on the backs of the captain’s chairs inside the vehicle. This system also expedites unloading when an adventure is completed. The overhead storage areas use cargo nets instead of doors, allowing those on board to see what they need and get to it in a hurry.
The galley includes a 5.5-cubic-foot refrigerator-freezer that’s large enough to accommodate a three-day to five-day outing. The television sits aft of the stairwell, above the refrigerator. Forward of the stairwell is a built-in charging station for the four hand-held two-way radios that would come with every Nex-Gen ASV. The intent of including the radios was to let people or groups that become separated during the pursuit of their favorite outdoor activity to stay in contact.
The galley cabinets and stainless-steel sink feature curves and lines that also are a departure from conventional RV design. The cubby where silverware and utensils are stowed swings down from the bottom of an overhead cabinet. It comes with removable trays to accommodate outside barbecues or tailgate parties. Pegboard attached to the walls is finished in an industrial chrome-type look and includes jet-black pegs, allowing the chef to decide how he or she wants to configure storage in the galley.
The Nex-Gen ASV also features what Fleetwood characterizes as the “great room,” the area in the rear of the coach where the bedroom in motorhomes is typically found. The great room features a U-shaped seating configuration, with a table in the middle that swivels. This area can accommodate four or five people for a game of cards, eating, or planning the next day’s adventure. It quickly converts into a queen-sized sleeping area. The center-aisle bath features a large private water closet and a large shower with door.
The cockpit maintains the uncomplicated, no-frills appearance found in the rest of the coach. Its design is functional, with instrumentation and switches held to a minimum. A pod positioned near the center of the dash and slightly aft includes the sound system and an optional global positioning system (GPS). A DVD/CD home theater system with surround-sound would be included as standard equipment.
The Nex-Gen ASV concept coach seems just the ticket for those “who go boldly,” whether for an ultra-active kayaking trip or a weekend at the races.
Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., P.O. Box 7638, Riverside, CA 92513; (800) 444-4905. For additional information about the Nex-Gen ASV concept coach and to receive product updates via e-mail, visit www.fleetwoodrv.com and complete the Nex-Gen ASV survey found in the “Innovation” section.