Motor Coach Industries, Jnc.'s new conversion-ready F-Series concept shell was introduced to the public during the Family Motor Coach Association show this past July. Stylishly designed, easy to handle, and value-priced, the new conversion shell is poised to become as popular to the motorhome market as the SUV is to the automotive industry, according to Roger Talsma, director of the conversion shell department.
The 35-foot, two-axle, conversionready coach shell features options and power that appeal to today's high-end travelers. "No one else is making a topquality, two-axle, diesel-powered monocoque-construction conversion coach shell of this kind," said James P. Bernacchi, chief executive officer for Motor Coach Industries International, Inc., parent to MCI. "We 're very excited to bring our blend of quality, value, and service to this particular market.”
In addition to its easy maneuve1ing (the turning radius is 27', 9"), its two-axle design, and attractive price tag, the FSeries features a Detroit Diesel Series 50 engine, which delivers 320 horsepower. The structure was engineered to allow for future slide-outs. The floor height, which has been modified, better accommodates the conversion process. "The Torsilastic suspension provides for the best ride in the business," Talsma commented. "And the galvanized steel tubing for the body is an MCI standard."
"We think this coach will really appeal to first-time buyers who want a high-end motorhome at an attractive price," said Sandy Baker, vice president of sales and marketing for MCII.
MCI's optimism may be well placed. First-time buyers, who are typically between 45 and 75 years of age, represent a market that is expected to increase 41 percent through 2010, and motorhome purchases are surging. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association estimates that there are 9.3 million RV's on the road, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all vehicle-owned households in the United States. The high-end market is especially strong.
"They're looking for something sleek, top-drawer, yet affordable," said Talsma. "And they get the MCI warranty."
Other sectors of the tour and transportation market also showed interest in the F-Series. "The limousine market showed a lot of interest in our shell," said Talsma. "That surprised us. They seem to be the largest group looking for something better to fit their needs. How do you handle the 25-30 passenger limousine group? They don't need a 40 or 45-foot bus, and a 30-foot coach is not the answer because it's too small. The F-Series is smaller than what we offer now, with a turning radius that can maneuver in areas where limousines and vans go. The corporate market is also starting to take off, as is the RV market, where the F-12 was initially intended.”
Converters and owners of the new MCI F-Series can expect support through the existing MCI International Club, motorhome organizations, as well as through several Hausman Bus Sales and Service Centers, which are located around the U.S. and Canada. Delivery of the FSeries is anticipated for mid-2000.