As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country this spring, Newmar was faced with a choice: Scrap the annual dealer show at which the company unveils its next-year models or come up with another way to get dealers excited about its new offerings.
The show originally had been scheduled for the Indianapolis Convention Center with the theme of “A Lap Ahead” – emphasizing how Newmar’s growth over the past decade had put it near the top of the standings of the Class A motorhome segment.
Keeping with the theme and building on technology, the manufacturer was able to pull off an online version of the show that may have had as much – if not more – impact than the planned show, given that many of the dealers viewing the presentation likely were cooped up at home or otherwise practicing social distancing from customers and their own employees.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Sammut came tooling onto the scene of Newmar’s video presentation wearing an Indy 500 uniform while riding in a golf cart rather than a race car, a nod to the planned Indianapolis Convention Center location. Company President Matt Miller subsequently trumpeted the company’s vision for the future now that it is owned by Winnebago, and also unveiled the impressive lineup of new offerings that has become expected of the luxury motorhome manufacturer.
“It is our goal that this virtual experience highlights the changes and enhancements for our 13 brands and gives you comfort that Newmar views business as usual for our dealer network,” Miller said.
End – & Beginning – of an Era
Business as usual is a relative term in the times of a pandemic, but Miller mostly attempted to assure dealers that the sale to Winnebago last year didn’t mean the end of the family method of doing business.
He said it had become apparent that there would not be a third generation of Millers to lead the company whenever he decides to call it a career. (Miller took over the company from his father Mahlon Miller, who was a founder.)
Miller also said he had learned that the skills needed to run a multi-million- dollar company were different from those needed to run a billion-dollar company – which Newmar soon could grow to become.
However, the Miller family still wanted to join forces with another company that shared its values, goals and desire to lead the industry in quality and customer service, according to Miller.
“Eventually, we came to the conclusion that Winnebago was our best choice,” he said. “We expect to elevate the customer experience even more that we would have on our own.”
Miller used the “A Lap Ahead” theme to emphasize that Newmar wasn’t going to coast now with new owners or that it expected to win the race just because it was experiencing growth.
“We’re A Lap Ahead and we want to continue to outpace those who follow us,” he said. “We’ve got our gas pedal stuck to the floor and we have no intention on letting up.”
Meanwhile, Sammut shared some details from Statistical Surveys that helped underline the kind of growth that led Newmar to seek partnership.
Since 2008, the company’s share of the market has grown exponentially to the point where, in January 2020, the company held an 15.2 percent share of the Class A market according to Statistical Surveys, compared to a 4.5 percent share in 2008. That includes an 8.2 percent share of gas-powered Class A’s compared to 2.4 percent in 2008 and, more tellingly, a 26.5 percent share of diesel motorhomes compared to 6.4 percent in 2008.
A Peek at 2021
Sammut also detailed changes for 2021 models.
All Bay Star and Bay Star Sport motorhomes will be built on the Ford F Series Class A motorhome chassis.
Meanwhile, several lines, including Bay Star and Kountry Star will include wheelchair accessible floorplans. Also, the Dutch Star will have a new optional Air Chair to provide entry assistance.
“For those customers who have difficulty climbing in and getting out of motorhomes but don’t really need the use of a large wheelchair lift, the Air Chair presents a safe and easy solution,” Sammut said.
However, receiving the most attention this year was Newmar’s top-of-the-line Class A diesel pusher, the King Aire.
“It underwent a lifecycle change to create as much distance between it and other Newmar brands as possible,” Sammut said.
Changes include luxury appliance brands such as Viking and Miele. Samsung 8K TVs will be in the front living area with QLED Samsung TVs in other locations. The kitchens feature European-style cabinetry with flush-mounted flat-panel doors and quartz countertops. Williamsburg furniture with real leather highlights the living areas as well as 85-1/2-inch ceiling heights.
Even the entry door features full real leather and has added a framed window. The entry around the steps includes the same tiling as is featured in the coach’s bathroom.
The King Air is built on a Spartan K3 chassis.
The motorhome’s exterior features blind-spot monitors at the front, center and rear to help the driver know if there are vehicles where he can’t see them.
Inside the underneath storage areas, they are no longer unfinished, but are instead coated with marine-style vinyl to be rot-and water-resistant as well as skid-resistant.
The coach includes dual inverters and lithium-ion batteries with 30 kilowatts of power to help increase dry-camping capabilities.
Newmar’s website is soon to include sales support information for both 2020 and 2021 models.