Motorhome-World started in 2001 with the development of the Discoverer range of motorhomes. Back in those days, the factory under the watchful eye of Managing Director Dennis Bouwers, was producing units only for the Bobo Campers rental fleet.
It wasn’t long before Dennis realised there is also a market for private custom vehicles, and over the years Motorhome-World gradually increased their market share in the private market as well.
Today, Motorhome-World has a large following in the new motorhome market from the private individual. In fact, in 2017, they produced more new motorhomes for private clients than for the rental market.
Caravan & Outdoor Life visited Dennis Bouwers at his factory in Atlantis (Western Cape), to talk a bit about Motorhome-World, as well as the South African motorhome market, and new developments on the horizon.
What types of motorhomes do you manufacture?
We build on-road and off-road motorhome variants. The on-road motorhomes are built mainly for tarred roads but do just as well on good gravel roads, handling long distance travel with ease and affording customers a comfortable and luxury way of travel.
Our off-road 4×4 motorhomes are built to handle the toughest conditions Africa can throw at them, yet their interiors are just as luxurious as the on-road versions.
Approximately how long does it take from start to finish to complete a motorhome?
What you can see on the production line is just the final stages of production. Before we start placing screws to wood, there is a whole hardworking team of specialists working in the background, preparing for this day. Depending on the model and customization, this preparatory work can take up to 5 months or even more than a year.
We work closely with all our customers to ensure all their requirements are fully met. If we think the customer is making a mistake by requesting a certain design or change to a design, we will give our input to try and steer them in the right direction because we know motorhomes, and what works and what doesn’t. But, we will always try and accommodate our customer’s needs and we will always entertain their ideas and give them serious thought.
For our standard models, the actual assembly can take from three weeks for a Discoverer 4, to seven weeks for the custom-built Discoverer Xtreme.
How big is the motorhome market at present?
In Europe and America, the motorhome market is massive, but in comparison South Africa is very small.
To give you an idea, let’s look at the past decade or so. Motorhome-World has been the largest motorhome manufacturer since 2006, when we surpassed the 60 units a year mark in terms of manufacturing. In 2007 we did more than 80 units.
Then the stock market crash occurred and the sale of luxury recreational vehicles such as motorhomes plummeted. Luckily we could take the necessary steps to keep the business afloat. We restructured and began manufacturing in a completely different way. So, from 12 units in 2009 we are now back up to 45 units in 2017.
So the market is still small, not only compared to overseas, but also when compared to previous years. Thankfully, the volumes have been increasing over the years since 2009.
How is the motorhome rental side going?
The rental side has always been good and has never declined, with much of our business coming from overseas clients. The European people eat, drink, go to sleep and go on holiday. That’s their cycle.
Holidays are a necessity of life and an integral part of their existence.
How can we grow this market in South Africa?
That’s a tough question… What we need to do is grow the popularity of the lifestyle, of camping with a motorhome. The caravan industry is already part of South Africa’s history, but a motorhome holiday are not nearly as popular as it is in Europe.
Promoting the lifestyle we do by exhibiting our products, having our clients share their experiences, and working with industry influencers such as Caravan & Outdoor Life.
Also, if I listen to the potential customers at trade shows and at our office, their decision to purchase is often driven by price. In the current economy, people are getting less for their money than they used to, tariffs for everything have increased and salaries can’t keep pace, meaning less disposable income for luxuries per household.
Clients often query the price of our motorhomes, but explaining that it is approximately the same price as buying a luxury vehicle and caravan, helps bridge the gap in their thinking.
We are positive that our quality products will remain buoyant in any market.
To contact Motorhome-World’s head office, simply fill out the form below.