CHARLOTTE — Specialty chassis designer and vehicle manufacturer Spartan Motors Inc. has partnered with a recreational vehicle maker on a new motorhome aimed at users just coming into the market.
The Charlotte, Mich.-based Spartan Motors (Nasdaq: SPAR) and Middlebury, Ind.-based Jayco Inc. showed the Embark luxury coach last week at the Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa, Fla. It’s the first new contract with a motorhome OEM for Spartan Motors since 2015, said Steve Guillaume, president of the Spartan Specialty Vehicles division.
As baby boomers retire and more millennials “embrace camping,” Spartan Motors saw an opportunity to partner with Jayco, a subsidiary of the Elkhart, Ind.-based Thor Industries Inc. (NYSE: THOR), to manufacture the chassis for the new Embark coach, Guillaume said.
The company expects to sell between 200 to 300 of the luxury coaches per year within the Jayco family of products.
“We’ve been continuing to grow as a chassis supplier and this is a natural progression for us into a horsepower segment and a gross vehicle weight segment that we don’t currently participate in,” Guillaume told MiBiz. “It’s kind of the next evolution of our growth. They have a new product offering that’s more into the entry-level diesel space.”
According to a statement, the luxury coach is built on the all-new Spartan K1 chassis with a 360-horsepower Cummins diesel engine and features independent front suspension with Bilstein shocks.
“Partnering with Spartan Motors allowed us to offer our customers a quality coach built on the premier foundation, and the superior ride, service, and support that our customers expect from our RVs,” Brion Brady, general manager of Jayco Motorhomes, said in a statement.
The Embark luxury coach will “reach a new audience” and is the first Class A rear-engine diesel vehicle in Jayco’s motorized lineup.
Guillaume described the deal as “a long-term partnership,” calling it an extension of the company’s existing work with Jayco.
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports RV shipments in the U.S. through October 2017 reached 426,932 units, up 17.6 percent from the same period in the prior year.
The industry growth led Spartan Motors to consider more RV projects, Guillaume said.
“The RV space, including motorhomes, has been really hot over the last three years,” he said, noting the company has been in the market for more than three decades. “We want to continue to invest in that space. … The motorhome lifestyle is particularly attractive to (baby boomers and millennials and) we see some positive short-term trends with the baby boomers and the longer-terms trends with millennials continuing to evolve in their RV experience.”