Recreational-Vehicle Manufacturing Industry Places Hope Green Technology
Local Eugene newspapers early August 2011, reported Eugene-based RV manufacturer Country Coach plans to develop a diesel-electric hybrid version of the traditional, potentially gas-guzzling recreational vehicle. But as the luxury motor coach industry fights for its very survival and with gas prices teetering at the $4 a gallon mark, that plan will unfortunately have to wait.
“I don’t expect to see the type of numbers of manufacturing in the high end that there was in the past. I don’t expect to see that ever return,” said Ron Lee. Earlier in 2011, Lee introduced a much smaller, leaner version of Country Coach, which his brother Bob Lee (legendary RV pioneer) had originally founded in 1973.
Country Coach RVs Modify Offerings to Meet Consumer Eco-Demands
Sales peaked back in 2006 at nearly 400,000, establishing Country Coach as an economic powerhouse for the region. Bring on the economic recession in subsequent years, and down went the sales of RVs across the country. With consumers demanding smaller and more fuel-efficient models, Oregon’s luxury models need to make some serious changes in order to satisfy a hungry and expectant client base.
With 22 people now employed in their parts and consignment operation in Junction City, Lee is currently at work raising funds to begin a limited trial run at manufacturing a 40-foot version of the RV for Country Coach, which would be priced between $550 and $700 thousand. Lee promised to unveil the new diesel-electric hybrid RV after three years of production, given, of course, if he can raise the money to get things underway.
Oregon RV manufacturers have long had to tip their hats to the state of Indiana, where nearly eighty per cent of the nation’s recreational vehicles are produced by only two companies, Evergreen RV and Earthbound, both of whom have successfully developed and marketed eco-friendly models.
“That’s a direction we have to go,” Lee said. “Green manufacturing processes and also more fuel-efficient vehicles — that’s something we have to do.” Local manufacturers have been noted as saying that the construction of green RVs would fit with Lane County’s eco-friendly culture.
“We are so big on solar and alternative energy,” said Shannon Nill (GM, Guaranty RV, Junction City). “I do think Oregon is a hotbed of innovations of this nature, and there’s no reason it can’t apply to RVs — it already is.”[Image Via: Country Coach, Eugene, OR]