National RV Revives Tropi-Cal; Updates Sea Breeze Models
National RV Inc., C3451, citing a move back to basics, has resurrected the popular Tropi-Cal brand as an attractively priced triple-slideout diesel model and revamped its Sea Breeze and Sea Breeze LX gasoline-powered motorhomes. These changes were unveiled during the National RV Trade Show this past December in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Tropi-Cal, which was a gas-powered line, returns as a diesel pusher priced at approximately $150,000. The new diesel coach is built on a Freightliner XC-Series raised-rail chassis with a 330-horsepower Caterpillar 3126B engine mated to an Allison MH 3000 transmission. Two floor plans are available “” 35-foot and 37-foot “” each with triple slideouts. Standard amenities include a 27-inch TV with a VCR; an electric awning; an outdoor entertainment center; and an Onan 7.5-kw generator.
The latest version of the Sea Breeze includes two double-slideout floor plans in 31-foot and 34-foot lengths. The Sea Breeze is built on a Ford Super Duty chassis with a 310-horsepower Triton V-10 engine. It includes 50-amp shore power, a 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating, and numerous standard features, all in the $85,000 price range.
The Sea Breeze LX includes many of the same amenities found in the Sea Breeze, plus more. It is available on the Ford chassis and also on the Workhorse W22 chassis with a 340-horsepower Chevrolet Vortec V-8 engine and an Allison transmission. The Sea Breeze LX features include dual-pane windows, generous basement storage, and a 27-inch TV in the living area and a 19-inch TV in the bedroom. The 31-foot and 34-foot floor plans have double slideouts while the new 38-foot floor plan is a triple-slideout unit. The base price of the Sea Breeze LX is in the $99,000 range.
For more information about these motorhomes, contact National RV at (800) 322-6007 or visit www.nationalrv.com.
Jayco Suspends Type A Production
Jayco Inc., C9334, based in Middlebury, Indiana, recently announced that it has suspended production of its Avatar and Firenza type A motorhomes. Derald L. Bontrager, Jayco president and chief operating officer, said the move was necessary because “at foreseeable volume levels, we are unable to support the existing Class A motorhome production facilities without penalizing our more established operations.”
Jayco entered the type A motorhome market with the introduction of the diesel-powered Avatar and the gasoline-powered Firenza at the National RV Trade Show in November 2001. Mr. Bontrager said that, despite the company’s efforts, it became necessary to re-evaluate Jayco’s place in the type A market and focus more attention on the type C segment, where the company already is a major player. The downsizing also will reduce the company’s cost structures significantly, Mr. Bontrager added.
Progressive Opens New Claims Training Center
Progressive, one of the largest providers of recreation vehicle insurance in the United States, recently opened a new 30,000-square-foot training center in Tempe, Arizona, specifically for claims representatives who handle RV and other types of specialty vehicle claims.
The space provided at the new facility quadruples the capacity Progressive previously had at its disposal when this type of training was held at the company’s auto claims training centers in Cleveland, Ohio; Tampa, Florida; and another site in Tempe. The new site becomes the company’s fourth center dedicated to claims training.
More than 2,000 claims representatives each year “” up from 550 previously “” can be trained at the new facility. The hands-on training Progressive representatives receive in the facility involves the use of RVs, boats, and other vehicles that have been damaged in crashes and by severe weather such as flooding. Claims reps learn how to assess damage, prepare repair estimates, and repair the vehicles themselves so they know what goes into such work.
“Each of these products is unique, and the claims training our representatives receive is extremely specialized,” said Ben Sheridan, general manager with the company. “The training delivered in Tempe prepares our reps to handle all aspects of claims for these products so they can provide the 24-hour, in-person claims service our customers expect.” The training, which lasts from two days to one week, uses the company’s latest claims technology.
Annual In-Water Boat Show Comes To Newport Dunes
Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, C1731, a state-of-the-art RV park and marina in Newport Beach, California, will host the 30th Annual Newport In-Water Boat Show, from Wednesday, April 30, through Sunday, May 4, at its 450-slip marina. The event will feature hundreds of yachts, sportfishers, sailboats, speedboats, personal watercraft, and two large tents filled with boating accessories and equipment exhibits. Admission will be $10 per person; children 12 and under admitted free. For more information about the show, call (949) 757-5959 or visit www.goboatingamerica.com/boatshows/newport2003.
Newport Dunes has 406 RV sites and numerous amenities, such as a bayside restaurant; a grocery store; a pool and spa; a game room; a fitness center; a secluded beach; a waveless swimming lagoon; and conference and meeting facilities. The marina features a seven-lane boat launch, a wash rack, dry boat storage, and more.
Goldrich & Kest Industries LLC in partnership with Terra Vista Management acquired Newport Dunes last year and is working with the local community to determine the future direction of the 100-acre resort. For more information about Newport Dunes, call (949) 729-3863 or visit www.newportdunes.com.
KOA Names Franchisee Of The Year, Offers Explorer’s Kit
The Rose family, owners of the Petoskey, Michigan, KOA Kampground, was named the 2002 KOA Franchisee of the Year during the KOA International Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, November 17 through 21, 2002.
The campground was built by Wayne and Lorene Rose and their two sons during the 1990s at the top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and has consistently been one of the top performers in the KOA campground system. The Petoskey KOA has experienced double-digit growth since it opened.
KOA also has introduced the KOA Explorer’s Kit to help families plan their next vacation. The kit includes a 45-minute video, Travelin’ On The Lewis & Clark Trail; a disposable 35-millimeter camera; a travel journal; an Adventurer’s Brochure of must-see destinations; fun and educational family games; Explorer’s maps; and the KOA Directory & Road Atlas.
The cost of the kit is $16.95 (includes shipping and handling) and can be purchased online at www.koa.com, or by sending a check for $16.95 to KOA Explorer’s Kit, P.O. Box 30558, Billings, MT 59114.
New Smithsonian Exhibit To Show “America On The Move”
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, located in Washington, D.C., will open a major new exhibit titled “America on the Move” on November 19, 2003. The exhibition, which will encompass nearly 26,000 square feet on the first floor of the museum, will provide a multimedia educational experience on the role transportation has played in the nation’s development.
“America on the Move” will transport visitors back in time with the sights, sounds, and sensations of transportation in the United States from 1876 to the present. The exhibit will use more than a dozen vignettes to showcase the Smithsonian’s popular transportation collections in historical settings. Among the historic moments explored are the coming of the railroad to an 1876 California town, and the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs outside of cities. Featured objects will include a Chicago Transit Authority L car, built in 1959; a 92-foot Southern Railway locomotive from 1926; the Winton Touring Car, which made the first cross-country auto trip in 1903; a 1934 Trav-L Coach house trailer; and an actual piece of the famed Route 66.
The new exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s $22 million renovation of its transportation hall, now named the General Motors Hall of Transportation, in recognition of the company’s $10 million sponsorship of the project. A companion exhibit, called “On the Water: Stories from Maritime America,” will be included in the renovated hall at a later date.
OnStar Service Available In Motorhomes
Several major RV manufacturers plan to offer the OnStar system as factory-installed equipment on their new motorhomes. OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors Corporation, is a leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security, and information services utilizing the global positioning system (GPS) satellite network and wireless technology.
Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., C985; Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111; and Newmar Corporation, C4363, are among the companies that will be making this subscription service available on their motorhomes.
“New RV owners will soon be able to experience certain OnStar services currently available in passenger cars and trucks,” said OnStar president Chet Huber. “RV owners travel extensively throughout the country, and OnStar’s live advisers will be there to provide route support directions, travel connections, points of interest, as well as emergency assistance.”
The OnStar RV Special Edition makes several services available through the unit’s three-button system.
- The red emergency button connects to a live OnStar adviser and provides the vehicle’s GPS location. In this mode the adviser can request that emergency, safety, or rescue personnel be sent to the vehicle’s location or can direct the driver to the nearest hospital or other emergency service point.
- The blue OnStar button connects with a live adviser who can help drivers request roadside assistance, find a campground, or access information on travel points of interest from OnStar’s database.
- The white button connects to OnStar Personal Calling, a hands-free, voice-activated cellular phone that can be used to make or receive calls to or from third parties. This service also lets the user access the OnStar Virtual Advisor for local weather and location-based traffic reports gleaned from the Internet.
RiverPark Inc., C7180, of Elkhart, Indiana, a leading electronic equipment supplier to the RV industry, has a distribution agreement with OnStar to supply manufacturers with the hardware. The company also will assist OEMs with design and vehicle integration, product inventories and orders, and various levels of product support.
For general information about OnStar and its services, call (800) 667-8277 or visit www.onstar.com.
Fuel Cell Generators For RVs On The Horizon
Clean Fuel Generation LLC (CFG) announced in January that it has developed the first fuel cell system that uses readily available propane to produce electricity and useful by-products “” hot water, space heat, and fresh water. According to company officials, electric generators that employ this new fuel cell technology will offer improved overall efficiency and reduced operating noise.
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that directly convert chemical energy into electric and thermal energy. Cells can be stacked together to provide the required power. CFG’s fuel cell technology, which can produce from 1 to 10 kilowatts or more, is reportedly able to provide 120-volt electric power for RV electrical systems and appliances such as microwave ovens and air conditioners.
Company co-founder Nick Ballinger says the innovative design will finally make an all-electric motorhome possible. “Our technology eventually will replace the gasoline generator, the furnace, and the hot water heater,” he said. “On top of that, it will supplement holding tanks with fresh water.”
Although CFG’s patented technology utilizes propane, pending designs can be applied to other hydrocarbon fuels.
For more information about the company and its fuel cell generation system, visit www.cleanfuelgeneration.com.
RV/MH Hall Of Fame Announces Class Of 2003
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation has announced the election of its 2003 class of inductees to the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Of the 10 new members who will be inducted during the national ceremony on August 5, 2003, in Elkhart, Indiana, three have ties to the motorhome industry.
- Newton Kindlund of Holiday RV Superstores, an RV retailer in Orlando, Florida, served on the national boards of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and was a founding board member of both the Florida RVTA and the RV Rental Association. Mr. Kindlund established the first national multistore RV retail operation and founded the nation’s first publicly owned RV dealership.
- Larry McClain is the founder of McClain’s RV Superstores, C1077, which has locations in Fort Worth, Texas; Lake Dallas, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has been a member of the RVDA board for 32 years and served two terms as its president. In 1998 his company was awarded the association’s Top Quality Dealer of the Year Award.
- Gloria Telander of Wheelers Campground Directory has worked for nearly 50 years creating and improving RV campground directories. She has been instrumental in the development of every major campground directory and was responsible for creating a campground rating system where users, not in-house sales personnel, rate the facilities.
Venture Out Dealership Returns To California
Lee FitzGerald and Buddy Maltone, who originally owned and operated a Venture Out RV dealership in Bakersfield, California, until selling it to Holiday RV Superstores in 1994, have repurchased the property and its assets and revived the Venture Out name.
The seven-acre facility, situated along State Route 99, consists of a 10,000-square-foot showroom, a full parts and accessories store, and eight service bays. Venture Out also has been issued a conditional use permit for a 102,000-square-foot facility that is located just a few hundred yards from the current location, which will be used for future expansion.
Mr. FitzGerald will serve as president and CEO of the revived dealership. Mr. Maltone will act as vice president and general manager. Venture Out will carry Winnebago Industries, Thor California, Alfa Leisure, National RV, Forest River, and Travel Supreme products.