RVing: European Style

Observations from Dusseldorf

Don Cohen Don Cohen  |  09.15.2015

The annual Caravan Salon show in Dusseldorf is at once exciting, impressive, and a little overwhelming.  In no particular order, here’s a collection and photos that I gathered during my visit.

Dusseldorf is a very pleasant city on the Rhine.  Below is a warm Sunday morning.

Dusseldorf Rhine Sunday

Typical of many German cities, much of Dusseldorf was destroyed during the war and much of the post-war architecture of the 50’s and 60’s is very drab. However, modern architecture is finding greater favor these days and adds a degree of whimsy and astonishment.

Dusseldorf Climbing Guys

These apartments were designed by American architect Frank Gehry.

Gehry Apartments 2

Gehry Apartments

It’s about a 20 minute light rail train ride from downtown to the Messe fairground complex.  This is the station at the complex.

Outside Entrance Hall

And now, onto the show floor.  Rear beds are pretty high.  And the reason for this is basement storage (see next).

Raised Rear Bed

Bike and scooter storage is a big plus as most rigs don’t tow cars, but many owners still want mobility when camped.

Bikes Stored in Rear

Thin is in!  These vertical designed refrigerators were very popular in the new models. This display will give you a good sense of the capacity and it certainly attracted the attention of three of the Winnebago team.

Thin Fridge

Slideouts are rare.  They’re usually found only on the Class A coaches and even then are sparingly used.  This Adria rear slideout was very novel and high enough to preserve underneath storage.

Adria Small Rear Slide

Full tilt up rear hatches are popular.  These also serve as an awning.  Note the internal sliding screen pulled half-way across the hatch.

Full Rear Hatch Wider View

Europe’s RV unit sales may be bigger the the US, but we’ve got a more highly developed selection of campgrounds.  Many European campgrounds offer 15 to 20 amp service, and often a central dump station and limited water hookups.

We stopped at one international RV camping firm who booked trips throughout the world: including Iran.  The representative from that company said that many clients enjoy RV travel there, but also laughed and added, “You might want to put some German flags on your vehicle if you go.”

Camping Locations Display

The language is different, but the interest in accessories is the same. Generally, it seemed like many of the people attending were a little younger than their North American counterparts.

Crowds Around Accessories

It looks like a mattress store, and it really is.  Froli does a lot of interesting things with plastic molding and foam.  Winnebago is using their clever spring system in the Travato.

Froli Mattress Display

Perhaps the most American look at the show.  It’s a camper-type unit on a VW truck.

VW Truck Camper

And what do European park models look like?  A lot like American ones.

Park Models

Now that’s a display! Take a close look and you’ll see that beyond the arched platform over the VW camper (complete with chrome edging) they also built a temporary grid of panels and spotlights.  These trade show techniques are used in many other types of American industry shows, but not by the RV industry.

Fancy VW Display
And the final photo is also a quiz.  What’s missing from the picture below?

Morelo Class A

Big swirls!  With very, very few exceptions, European RVs are painted white with simple paint highlights.  This Morelo Class A is an expensive one and indicative of the general design scheme found throughout the European coaches.

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  1. Janna Caughron Posted on 02.27.2018

    We rented a camper and toured Sweden, Norway and Finland back in 2015. We loved the quality and well thought out floorplan but detested the electrical hookup and the cassette black tank.

    Dumping raw sewage into an open Janitor’s sink is disgusting and I would bet a human health hazard. Can one get hepatitis by airborne germs? Electrical cords that are not hardwired into the rig and run haphazardly across access roads and campsites is just plain odd. I can remember as a kid, living in Germany, when people went camping tents were pitched in lines right next to each other. Now many campgrounds are just free for alls. Very strange.

    We owned a 2006 29 foot Safari Trek until January 2018. It had a queen bed that lowered from the ceiling in the living room. We had terrific floor space, great storage, a large bathroom containing the large hanging wardrobe and clothes drawers, a kitchen that 2 people could work in simultaneously, large windows, with high quality workmanship and materials. Due to engine problems that Workhorse refused to diagnose, we finally traded it in.

    No North American manufacturer is making a coach less than 30 feet with the drop down bed or a murphy bed with a usable kitchen. We looked and researched and nothing compared to the Trek. In January 2018, we purchased a Winnebago 28N Sunstar LX for the same price we had paid for the Trek back in 2006. Quality of construction and materials are obviously what suffered with the goal to cut costs. There are things we really like about the Sunstar – great storage inside and outside, tank dump separate from fresh water fill, drives much quieter, etc, but there are things we really miss about the Trek. We had so much more interior room even with the slides pulled in. We have to deploy the slides to be able to use the kitchen and bedroom in the Winnebago.

    We would love to see a blending of the best of both European styling, workmanship, and floor plans with American fuel, water, gray/black tanks sizing and dumping, and the hardwired electrical hookups. We want a short rig less than 30 feet that is a 4 season coach. We just don’t understand why North American manufacturers keep turning out the 45 monsters. We like to have the capacity to dry camp for 5 days (with daily showers) in the National Parks and US Forest service campgrounds that generally have very small campsites and length limitations.

  2. David Kannas Posted on 08.24.2017

    I have noticed over the years of watching the Tour of France on TV and actually pity the people who are driving monster rigs. Our View gets around cities and through the forest roads with no problem. Europe has it right when it comes to size.

  3. mel smith Posted on 05.24.2017

    L absolutely hate the swirly curly whirley paint jobs. How did that get started anyway?. Our 2006 View 23J doesn’t have them thanks
    Winnebago! Glad to see others agree!

  4. Roman Posted on 02.18.2017

    There is a major reason why RVs in Europe are smaller, compact and perhaps more innovative in the use of new technologies. It has to do with the actual weigh of the car. Just to start with; our C class (non commercial) driver license allows us to drive any 2-axle vehicle with GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) up to 26,000 lbs (almost 12 metric tons). Equivalent driver license in EU is a class B (non commercial) with maximum GVW 3.5 metric tons that is 7,700 lbs only! Some of the larger SUVs are heavier that this! In EU to drive anything over this limit you must own a class C (commercial) license and comply with many restrictions, toll roads and special rules many unique just to a specific county. You think having a commercial DL in US is a pain, try in EU! You do not get any special treatment for a heavier car only because it is a personal RV, just like we get here in US. This is why the manufacturers in EU build the RVs lighter, smaller and no slidouts, they have be under 3.5 metric tons or 7,700 lbs!

  5. ed creugers Posted on 09.10.2016

    we live in europe and have a minni winnie from 1996.
    we want to buy a new minnie winnie again . but winnebago made them to big the last years . the new class c rv is no longer alloud in the eu.
    max. 2.55 m. width. i think thats not smart.

  6. Mark Bony Posted on 08.21.2016

    I agree that a simple yet elegant paint schemes are all we need…no bright gaudy graphics please. I would actually pay extra to have that option.

  7. Chuck Borcher Posted on 06.21.2016

    We did an RV trip in Europe a couple of years ago. Thank you very much, but I like what we have in in the US of A. I like roads wide enough for my class A. I like air conditioning (at least 30 Amp service) – in Europe our coach did not even have a ceiling fan/vent. In Europe, we ran extension cords for electricity, and water at the site was a luxury. I will take full hook-ups as the rule and boondock once in awhile. There was nothing like take our “cassette” to the dump tub. I also like my large refrigerator (with icemaker) and microwave/convection oven. Yes I am spoiled and enjoying every minute of it.

  8. Andrew Williams Posted on 04.11.2016

    The European rv designs are far superior, innovative, high quality, and efficient to what is produced in the U.S.A. why is that? Winnebago has introduced some. One called the Galileo never got off the ground. :-(

  9. Lisa D Posted on 10.25.2015

    Douglas Spear – I’d get an M in a heartbeat if they put in a drop down bed (like in the Trend/Viva). It’s the solution to the bed issue IMO. Of course, if they slapped the J’s U-Booth in the M, I’d be all over that also. Sadly I keep reading they are discontinuing the M.

    Regarding Europe/overseas, I don’t think we’ll see anything like what they do there in our lifetimes. If one ‘really’ looks at Youtubes/sites of Euro Caravans/Motorhomes… well, they are so far removed what mfrs do here – it’s a different ‘planet’.

    But really when I buy a $100k Navion, do I really get a black plastic thermostat with tiny plastic sliders for my heating system? Yes, yes I do.

  10. Judy Howard Posted on 10.08.2015

    Europe! I guess I will write a new book to follow my COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST for those across the pond. Their Rvs have some nice features .

  11. Douglas Spear Posted on 10.07.2015

    As the proud owner of a 2015 Winnebago View 24M, I would love to see a combination day seating arrangement that converts to a fold down queen mattress murphy bed instead of the current folding sofa/bed..otherwise we love our View! Thanks

  12. n swanson Posted on 10.07.2015

    Love the bike storage. Would be great for our travel trailer. Looks easy to put in and be safe from all the elements. Hope you consider adding this to your line esp. on a smaller travel trailer as we like simplicity.

  13. Hodge Posted on 10.07.2015

    I would like to see a lot more choices in the compact/fuel friendly RV segment. 40 ft RV’s are just not in my ballpark, unless I decide to go full time. Even then, the fuel expenditure is a real deal breaker.

    The rear garage for bikes is brilliant. I also like the rear hatch idea, although it’s obviously not compatible with the bike garage. (Or is it?)

    Agree with other posters about paint jobs and solar panels: U.S. RV’s need to lose the “slicky slashes and disco dots” paint jobs.
    Solar panels as a factory standard coupled with dimmable L.E.D lighting is also on the wishlist.


  14. frank carcich Posted on 10.07.2015

    Bring back the setup of a vw Westphalia in the u.s. It lasted a long while and is still being seriously used in Europe but not in u.s. Great for people that have no rv parking and love to travel but cannot afford parking storage elsewhere

  15. david greer Posted on 10.07.2015

    I think if Winnebago did a View/Navion with a rear garage it would be a big hit in europe

  16. Robert Brown Posted on 10.06.2015

    I, too, am not a fan of the night marish swirling paint jobs popular here in the U.S. The Holiday Rambler Trip had the right idea back in 2011 and 2012. Simple straight lines accentuating body lines in complementing colors.
    The hatch covered space in the back for hauling our bikes is a stroke of genius. Do it on Winnebagos and you will be heros.

  17. W Yoggerst Posted on 10.06.2015

    I too like the rear hatch. My old Brave at least has a rear window. I back into my beach campsites and would love to see large rear windows that open with screens. Windows seem to be getting smaller, I don’t like that.

  18. Laura C. Posted on 10.06.2015

    There is a big difference between what older couples want and what families want. I’d love to see designers stop trying to make one floor plan to satisfy both. Older folks don’t want booth dining and extra beds. They want comfortable lounge designs and simplicity. Families need lots of beds, darker colors and durable surfaces.
    I love that rear large door idea and screen doors that retract. Nothing worse than trying to look out doors while traveling, through a screen.
    Most folks now want solar from the factory, quit making us add it on.

  19. Bob Duthie Posted on 10.06.2015

    I don’t see any swirls on our 2016 Trend 23B, or a slideout. Winnebago is learning from Europe starting with the View/Navions in 2006. Our 2007 View had no slideout and I received an award at the last View/Navion Rally for never having a slideout failure.

  20. Dick V S Posted on 10.06.2015

    Love the simple elegance of the exteriors. We don’t all want the “look at me” crazy swirl paint jobs Winnabago is hanging onto. Perhaps a midyear change could be found appealing.

    Also, perhaps reconsider a TV cabinet and table to replace the booth in the Aspect. If your engineers still can’t figure it out have them email me and I’ll explain it to them.

  21. Roger D Posted on 10.06.2015

    Love the high bed in their small Class C. Beautiful bedroom and tons of storage. Hope we can see that in the View someday. The Via already benefits from slightly higher beds yielding a large storage compartment underneath.

  22. Lisa D Posted on 09.17.2015

    What I would give for for that model with the rear hatch and screen. And the rear storage (but would want a rear window in that one above the beds).

    Oh the pretty creamy elegant classy zen paint schemes.
    Lovely Light uncomplicated interiors
    The great Windows
    The innovation/thoughtfulness.

    I’m counting on you Winnebago to pull this off in this Country and be the Apple of the RV manufacturers.