Workhorse to Re-enter RV Chassis Market

With RV demand growing stronger, the Workhorse Group plans to re-enter production of Class A motorhome RV chassis at the Workhorse Union City, Indiana plant.

workhorse logoPlans call for delivery of RV chassis in 2015.

The Workhorse nationwide network of over 400 dealerships will support and service the motorhome vehicles.

Workhorse has been recognized as a leader in RV Chassis throughout the strong RV marketplace of the mid-2000s. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) estimates RV volume was nearly 33,000 units per year in 2007, dropping to 5,900 units in 2009, and has been on a steady incline, with Class A Motorhome 2014 volume of over 21,800 units per year.

The steady growth back to strong current RV volumes, coupled with industry demand and interest, has resulted in the Workhorse brand re-entering the RV Chassis Market.

“Our RV manufacturing customers have always relied on the dependability and performance of the Workhorse RV chassis,” said Stoney Steenekamp, President of AMP Trucks Inc., a subsidiary of Workhorse Group Inc.

“Today, we believe the RV market is strong once again. With the growing demand we have recently seen, it just made sense for us to begin entering back into production.”

Over the years, the Workhorse brand established itself as a leader in building RV chassis, with dependable product solutions and strong support through a network of more than 400 dealerships and service centers across the country.

Workhorse intends to ramp up production of the Class A Motorhome chassis at the Workhorse Union City plant which is currently in limited production of the Workhorse E-GEN vehicle, an EPA-approved electric truck chassis with onboard generator for the medium-duty truck segment. The E-GEN vehicle allows fleet operators to choose gasoline, electric, propane, or CNG fuel options.

Prior to leaving the motorhome chassis market, Workhorse manufactured the W16D diesel chassis
Prior to leaving the motorhome chassis market, Workhorse manufactured the W16D diesel chassis

The Workhorse RV Chassis line will be an improved design, offering both 6.0L and   powerful 8.8 liter gasoline engines, coupled with an Allison transmission. The 8.8L engine is designed to match diesel towing ability and mileage.

“It gives us great delight to once again take our place in the RV Chassis market,” said Steenekamp.

“We believe the demand is there, we will be building an improved RV chassis line, and we fully expect our Workhorse W-16 and W-22 Class A motorhome chassis to quickly be recognized as leaders in the category.”

Details

Workhorse Custom Chassis

Previously a division of Navistar, the Workhorse brand along with the Workhorse Union City, Indiana assembly plant, and network of over 400 dealerships was sold to Workhorse Group Inc. in 2013.

Workhorse Group Inc. manufactures electric drive systems for medium-duty, class 3-6 commercial truck platforms, and can equip its Workhorse chassis with electric, gasoline, propane, or CNG engines.

The company is re-entering the RV Chassis market and will also be building Class A motorhome chassis at the Workhorse Union City, Indiana plant.

Website: www.workhorse.com

http://www.workhorse.com

Worth Pondering…

The RV lifestyle is like nothing else.

It’s leaving home, exploring America, and yet bringing your home along with you!

Stopping at a wayside picnic area, preparing lunch in your kitchen.

It’s sleeping in your own bed every night, yet waking up to a new vista each morning!

The sounds of a crackling campfire; of a mountain stream, of frogs, and crickets.

It’s families drawn closer; it’s retirees being rewarded for many years of labor.

—Loren Eyrich, Two-Lane Roads

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AMP Acquires Workhorse from Navistar

Cincinnati-based AMP Holding Inc., through a newly formed subsidiary, Amp Truck Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Workhorse brand, logo, IP, patents, and assembly plant from Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC, a wholly owned affiliate of Navistar International Corp.

workhorseWorkhorse was the first chassis manufacturer to design and build a chassis specifically for the Class A Gas motor home market.

AMP plans to produce step-vans and other vehicle types using the former Workhorse Custom Chassis plant in Union City, Indiana, according to a news release.

The parties expect to close the acquisition on or about March 13.

A specific timetable to re-open the Workhorse plant will be announced as the transition occurs and order backlogs are established.

With this acquisition AMP will be positioned to be the first truck OEM in the United States to offer a range of alternative fuel vehicles produced in an automated assembly plant.

By offering an all-electric Workhorse chassis along with gasoline powered, and alternative-fuel powered models, AMP will become a premier OEM capable of building alternative fuel vehicles for the commercial market.

AMP’s vehicles will be sold and supported through the existing Workhorse network of 440 dealers.

“Our acquisition of the Workhorse assets will enable us to continue producing the premium-quality chassis that Workhorse is known for while giving us the perfect platform for our battery-electric power-train technology,” said Steve Burns, CEO of AMP.

“It makes good strategic sense for us and we expect to be well positioned to meet the ever increasing demands of the market.”

Details

MP Holding Inc.

MP Holding Inc. is a development-stage company.

The Company is engaged in design, manufacture and sale of modified automobiles and commercial trucks with an all electric drivetrain and battery system.

The Company is developing its operations through a sale, design, and manufacturing facility located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

AMP Electric Vehicles, Inc. (AMP) converts internal combustion engine based vehicles to all electric powertrains, provides original equipment manufacturers (OEM) with AMP designed and integrated modular electric components and provides electric powertrain engineering to end-users.

Worth Pondering…

All things are possible until they are proved impossible—and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.

—Pearl S. Buck

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Workhorse to Cease Operation in October

Lisle, Illinois-based Workhorse Custom Chassis is going out of business and is due to shut down in October, though Navistar International Corp., its owner since 2005, is saying little about it.

Spokesman Steve Schrier confirmed the news and responded to questions by referring to statements in the company’s recent 10Q disclosures to the federal Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), reports Truckinginfo.com.

Workhorse stopped making its W42 and W62 van chassis early this year, one competitor said, and final production is apparently imminent of motorhome chassis. Production should wrap up this month, a worker at the plant in Union City, Indiana, said before directing further questions to Navistar headquarters.

However, Navistar’s eStar electric van, though managerially connected to Workhorse, remains an active product, Schrier said. Introduced in 2009 with the help of a federal grant, eStar captured early sales from several customers for use in California, which encourages use of zero-emissions vehicles with its own grants.

Nonetheless, “the commercial viability of electric vehicles is what drives sales in this market,” Schrier said.

With no engine or conventional drivetrain and the comparative simplicity of electric components, maintenance and operating costs are very low, even if purchase prices are high.

And although A123 Systems, which supplies batteries for the eStar and other electric vans, has been struggling financially and currently is the subject of a controversial investment proposal from a Chinese firm, “individual suppliers are not impacting our eStar business,” Schrier said. About 100 were built at the Navistar-Monaco plant in Wakarusa, Indiana, last year.

Workhorse was started in 1998 by investors who took over production and sales of General Motors’ popular P-series Stepvan chassis when GM dropped it, Truckinginfo.com reports.

GM gasoline and diesel engines powered vehicles which, like competitors’ chassis, got bodies from outside suppliers. Large delivery fleets like FedEx, UPS, and Frito-Lay were among its customers.

Navistar acquired Workhorse seven years ago and it seemed a good fit, as Navistar diesels would find another outlet, even if emphasis was still on gasoline.

It also seemed that the new subsidiary might be strengthened through its association with a big corporation whose history from the 1930s into the ’60s included the popular Metro van.

For a short time Workhorse offered an integrated chassis-body product called MetroStar.

The Great Recession a few years later hurt both parties, and Navistar executives’ losing bet on their non-SCR “in-cylinder solution” to diesel emissions limits contributed to heavy financial losses. These prompted serious cost-cutting.

Two financial reviews showed that Workhorse could not recover investments in it, the 10Q statement said. So earlier this year Navistar ordered Workhorse to stop accepting orders for W-series chassis and to begin to “idle” the business. It has taken a $10 million charge as part of shutdown expenses.

Workhorse R Series Diesel Chassis

Schrier said Navistar would continue to provide warranty and parts and service support for existing Workhorse chassis.

Executives at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), a major competitor, said one result of Workhorse’s closure has been more interest from customers in gasoline power, something Workhorse specialized in.

FCCC last year began offering General Motors’ 6-liter Vortec 6000 gasoline V-8, the same engine that Workhorse used toward the end.

Until late last week, Navistar’s website listed Workhorse as one of its truck brands and offered a link to the Workhorse site. A newly redesigned website now lists only International and Mahindra International as Navistar’s truck brands.

But Workhorse’s site as of this writing is still active and describes the W series commercial and motorhome chassis, and gives no hint of their demise.

Worth Pondering…

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.

— T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

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Thor Serrano: Top 10 Diesel

Elkhart, Indiana-based Thor Motor Coach Serrano has moved into the “Top 10” list of best selling diesel motorhomes as of August 2011, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. (SSI), Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In a Tuesday (November 15) news release, spokesmen for the Thor Industries Inc. subsidiary indicated that the diesel-powered Serrano has increased by 20% in overall retail sales, which equates to a market share increase of 18.3%.

“Our fuel-efficient Serrano continues to be a hit with motorhome enthusiasts and has had great appeal with consumers looking to buy gas or diesel models,” said Adam Gudger, Thor Motor Coach’s Serrano product manager. “We have recently introduced two great new floor plans which include a 34-foot bath-and-a-half model and a 33-foot model with a full-wall slide and an option for a stackable washer and dryer.”

The 2012 Serrano product offering includes five floor plans ranging from 31 to 34 feet. Built on the Workhorse W-series chassis, the Serrano’s power comes from a Navistar MaxxForce diesel engine rated at 230 hp with 620 foot-pounds of torque. With a gross vehicle weight rating starting at 20,500-pounds, consumers will find the Serrano has a great power to weight ratio—lower weight overall weight, plus big torque output, equals a smooth running motorhome aimed at conserving fuel.

“Consumers are looking for a fuel efficient diesel with the power to handle mountainous terrain and the Serrano provides these diesel benefits for the price of a typical high-end gas unit,” said Gudger. “Users are getting significant fuel economy increases compared to gas motorhomes while the 36 percent increase in torque keeps the engine running quieter and more efficiently than comparable gas powered models.”

While the Serrano shines on the outside, a host of new interior features make it feel just like home, he added. The new MCD solar and blackout roller shade with ClearView technology, helps keep solar light and heat out of the coach during the day while providing complete darkness for sleeping at night.

2012 Thor Motor Coach Serrano motorhome exterior. (Credit: thormotorcoach.com)

Custom hardwood fascia for the slide rooms adds a finished look in the Serrano’s living area and bedroom while optional heat pumps for the air conditioners take the chill out of the interior on cool mornings and brisk evenings.

Three new exterior paint packages along with two eagerly awaited interior decors packages complete a subtle, but substantial, transformation in the Serrano, said Gudger.

The front engine, diesel Serrano offers European exterior styling with the interior comfort.

Serrano’s key design elements include:

  • Aerodynamic front cap reduces wind resistance and improves mileage
  • Easy to drive, well balance Workhorse W20D Chassis designed specifically for motorhome use
  • Front Engine Diesel (FRED)
  • European-inspired exterior
  • Oversize exterior MEGA storage compartments

 Details

Thor Motor Coach, Inc.

Thor Motor Coach is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Thor Motor Coach was formed when Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International strategically merged in late 2010. For over 23 years Damon and Four Winds have been building many of the most recognized brands of motorhomes.

2012 Thor Motor Coach Serrano motorhome interior. (Credit: thormotorcoach.com)

Thor Motor Coach manufactures Class A Front Engine Diesel motorhomes (Serrano and Avanti), Class A Diesel Pusher motorhomes (Astoria and Tuscany), Class A Gas motorhomes (A.C.E., Hurricane, Daybreak, Windsport, Challenger, and Outlaw), Class C motorhomes (Four Winds, Chateau, Siesta, Siesta Sprinter, Citation, and Citation Sprinter)

Factory Tours

Thor Motor Coach conducts factory tours Monday through Thursdays at 3:00 p.m. EST; no appointment is necessary. For more information about tours, call (574) 584-3655.

Address: 701 County Road 15, Elkhart, Indiana 46516

Phone: (800) 860-5658

Website: thormotorcoach.com

Worth Pondering…
We owe a lot to Thomas Edison—if it weren’t for him, we’d be watching television by candlelight.

—Milton Berle

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