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DESERT STRIDER :
Over the last couple of months we have done quite some extensive research into the viability and desirability of acquiring 4x4 RV motor-homes into our fleet. Our thinking is that it is a natural progression of our standard camper rental rentals [caravans and trailers] of having 4x4 RV motor-homes as part of our vision of having "style and class" in our rental fleet.
The rental market is a harsh market for off-road products and camping equipment with some products excelling over a number of years in respect of quality and durability and others just cannot make the cut. In respect of off-road caravans many manufacturers through the years benefitted from our input as to what works and what does not work. We have rebuilt many caravans over the years to make them better for off-road use.
The off-road rental market is severe on its demand for quality products and most of all, durable products. Manufacturers of off-road products, in general terms, are reluctant to provide rental companies with their products due to the excessive wear and tear these products are subjected to. When it comes to a R2million odd 4x4 RV Motor-home they are quick to say that their 4x4 motor-homes are not built for commercial use but only for private use. Most of the 4x4 motor-homes we viewed are simply not expedition-ready.
So what we say is that although a "private" customer has paid about R2million or more for his 4x4 motor-home much needed to be done to get it ready for an overland expedition, especially into Africa. When we say a vehicle is expedition ready then we also say it is ready as a rental unit, because the same design faults and poor workmanship will be exposed and it does not matter if you are a private or "commercial" customer.
When you go onto YouTube or internet you will find a lot of the 4x4 RV's are built in Australia or the US. The Iveco 4x4 Daily comes with really high credentials in the field and that is why we are also looking at the Iveco 4x4 Daily as the base vehicle for our motor-home.
In most cases when we viewed new or used 4x4 motor-homes in South Africa we found the sales staff not really equipped to handle inquiries on these vehicles, especially when it comes to electronics and power supply systems - they would for example tell you that 3 x 300 watt solar panels would give you 900watts in total of PV electricity, but when you ask them whether they are talking of STC [standard testing conditions] or PTC [PV testing conditions] values they have not a clue what you are talking about. There are not a lot of customers around who will spend in excess of R1,8million of a brand-new or used 4x4 RV without asking a lot of questions. We, for instance, being in the off-road rental market for many years know exactly what the demands of our customers are and two of the most common complaints are rain and dust that seeps into the off-road caravans and trailers. It is therefor obvious that the first things we would like to look at is weather-proofing for dust and rain.
At two different dealers we made special arrangements to view their 4x4 motor-homes with the request that all batteries to be charged and all systems ready to be checked only to find that nothing was done to accommodate us - now if this is the service we are going to get from the suppliers you can imagine what problems we are going to experience with service or claims.
(Brand-new 4x4 Motor-home on the showroom floor with broken hinges on its utility boxes - and it has not been off-road yet)
At one dealer we viewed some brand-new 4x4 Motor-homes and was shocked to see that some of the hinges on the utility boxes were completely broken off - and this vehicle has not seen an off-road of a day old. These hinges are attached to the doors at the bottom of the utility boxes so they can easily fall open and break [extremely likely in off-road rental scenarios] off. With all our experience in the off-road rental market we know that this is a design fault - these doors should either have support brackets/mechanisms [if you want to use these doors as a working space, but more preferably they should be attached to the top with struts to support them.
to be continued.....