Russ Garfin, director of product management for Class B and C motorhomes at Winnebago Industries, still vividly recalls back in 2006 when he showed the company’s first Sprinter-based Class C to his district sales managers.
“That was our first serious effort at a more European-style of a Class C motorhome. They all liked it but were nervous whether it would sell or not. They all said that’s pretty cool-looking – but it’s too expensive,” he recalls.
“‘It’s fun to have something new, but who’s going to buy it?’ they asked,” he says now.
Winnebago’s View and Navion – the first Class C’s ever built on the Sprinter chassis for the North American market – did attract buyers and stood for years as the top-selling brand in their class.
The rest of the industry eventually began building on the Sprinter platform and slowly caught up, however, necessitating a new review of the market. The result of that review at Winnebago is a new series comprised of the Vita and Porto, built on a Sprinter chassis that is 13 inches shorter than the View/Navion and retails for some $25,000 to $30,000 less.
“We’ve given customers another choice,” Garfin says simply. The difference between View/Navion and Vita/Porto is basically in the level of amenities offered between the two products.
“Something we still do better than anybody else is we provide more carrying capacity, so whether it’s a Vita or Porto or even a View or Navion, if you equip them the same as competitor coaches, you’re always going to find more carrying capacity in a Winnebago motorhome and that’s because we design in weight savings.
“Our styling on the 2020 View and Navion is gorgeous with all-new walnut and white interiors and an all-new front cap,” Garfin says. “From top to bottom, we’re second to none as far as appointments and in comfort.”
How will these new brands fare in the current marketplace?
“I think it was the right decision, but it’s too early to say how successful it will be,” says Garfin. “A lot of people shopping for a Winnebago motorhome on a Sprinter chassis are going to consider a new View or Navion first before they look at anything else. It’s going to take a little bit of time for the new brands to build some momentum, but we’re seeing that. We’ve made quite a few upgrades to the interiors and the exteriors on the Vita and Porto since we launched it with options like full-body paint, theater seating and hydraulic leveling jacks, which are well-received features. It really did change the position on our dealers’ lots.”
By the start of 2020, Winnebago Sprinter brands were gaining traction in the marketplace, Garfin stresses. “We are confident we will grow our share.”
Like all RVs, floorplans are king. Leading the way for Winnebago is View and Navion’s 24D floorplan, the No. 1-selling Sprinter floorplan in North America, featuring a full-size slide with a Murphy bed.
“People really like the openness of that full-size slide. When the Murphy bed is up, you have a couch and a big, U-shaped lounge so you have lots of seating and dining choices,” Garfin says.
Following the 35th Annual Florida RV Supershow in Tampa in January, Garfin reported, “We saw excellent response to our new Sprinter products, retailing the new Boldt, Vita and View models starting with the first day of the show. Our Sprinter sales well surpassed our sales at this show last year.”
“The View and Navion created the Sprinter market here – and even though the market has a ton of more competitor models, with everyone looking to mirror Winnebago’s success – we are now gaining momentum with our new products and we expect Winnebago’s identical sister brands the View and Navion will continue leading the market going forward,” Garfin says.
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