Nov 17, 2017

More features, fewer choices

More features, fewer choices:

How one team tackled a clean-sheet design challenge


It often seems like the RV industry has a "me-too" complex: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a successful new model or floorplan will soon be "flattered" by any number of competitors.

So what happens when a product development team has the opportunity to truly start from scratch? In the case of the team behind Winnebago's new Class A Intent, it can be both freeing and a bit intimidating.

"It was quite a journey," commented Niles Whitehouse, Winnebago Product Manager for Class A gas coaches. "

"We did a lot of research with customers to determine what features are most important to them, and to better understand how they actually use their motorhomes. Our goal was to deliver the best customer experience possible." (See Niles give a walkthrough tour of the Intent here.)

Somewhat surprisingly, one outcome was that Winnebago took a fresh look not only at what they were building, but at how they built it.

"The Intent uses new processes, a new 100% dedicated production line, and what we call a modular approach, where the four floorplans share most of the features in common. In fact, there are very few options available on the Intent," noted Whitehouse.

"All of this lets us build more value in, take some costs out, and pass the savings on to our customers."

The second outcome, of course, is the Intent itself. The Class A gas model is characterized by its sleek appearance, well-thought-out design, and an unexpected wealth of features.

Available only in white ("more visible and reflects more sunlight," noted Product Manager Whitehouse), the Intent gives you a choice of accent stripe color.

The coach is built on Ford's F-53 chassis, and uses Winnebago's proven SuperStructure technology to surround the cab with a sturdy steel framework. That allows the Intent to have slimmer A-pillars, resulting in outstanding visibility through the expansive front windshield.

The cab is also notable for its patented dash with snap-in accessories. An aluminum channel runs along the dash, allowing driver and passenger to place accessories like cupholders and a work station right where they want them. The rear-view monitor even swivels, meaning no more neck craning to see what's going on behind you.

Other shared elements include a walkaround queen bed, exterior entertainment system (under the awning), powered bed over the cab and a sofa and dinette.

And every Intent galley includes the same residential-style refrigerator, microwave, three-burner range/oven, pantry, and double sink set in the spacious countertop.

Another example of the "clean sheet" approach is the LP tank system. Rather than a fixed conventional tank that requires a trip to a propane supplier to fill, the Intent uses up to four easily exchangeable 20-pound propane cylinders, just like the ones used to power barbecue grills.

Additional thoughtful touches include storage compartments below the entry steps, a stand-up desk, and a rear gas fill so it doesn't matter which side of the pump you pull in on.

Every Intent comes with an Onan generator and 1kilowat inverter, and is pre-wired for solar panels. The four floorplans range from 26'10" to 31'10," and feature either dual slideouts or a full-wall driver's-side slide.

It may be a coach with few available options, but the Intent includes a long list of standard features that experienced RVers will recognize and appreciate. You can learn more about the Intent here.

Trader Online Web Developer


We think it’s safe to assume you’ve heard of REI, but what we’re curious to know is whether or not you’ve heard of their #OptOutside campaign - and how exactly you plan to respond to it.

November 24, 2017 marks the 3rd year REI will be closed on the notorious Black Friday ‘holiday’ in order to live out the lifestyle they sell. They are encouraging their employees and their customers alike - actually any and all outdoor enthusiasts - to skip the shopping lines and enjoy the great outdoors. This year they are taking it one step further by encouraging you to share your outdoor adventures with the world through their campaign hashtag, #OptOutside.

Trust us, we find the sales following Thanksgiving as tempting as the next person, but not nearly as memorable as the moments we treasure with Mother Nature.

So, what do you say? Will you #OptOutside this year? We plan to.

For tips on some great destinations, check out our Nifty 50 Park List or other dream destinations on Pinterest!
Trader Online Web Developer

Unsung Southern Destinations

Head south for some warmer weather this winter!

The winter months bring with them some wonderful things - beautiful snow, hot cocoa by the fire, great holiday celebrations with family and friends - but at after a while, the cold weather can start to wear on us. But thankfully, it’s nothing a little road trip can’t fix! Head to any of these great southern destinations guaranteed to help you thaw out so you can make it through the rest of the winter months. 

1. Greenville, SC
This small town in the Upstate of South Carolina is gaining a reputation as an up-and-comer. Their downtown is cute as a button - with wide streets tree lined streets full of great shops and food choices. Adjacent to downtown, you’ll find Falls Park on the Reedy. This park is famous for its pedestrian suspension bridge that is supported on one side, giving walkers a clear view of the river as they pass. If you’re up for a bit of a longer hike - check out the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The trail is 20 miles long and runs along the Reedy River and through several city parks.

2. Naples, Florida
Snowbirds have the right idea - who wouldn’t want to head to Florida in the middle of the winter? While Naples is known for it’s high-end shopping and beautiful white sand beaches - they also have some amazing ways to get outdoors and enjoy the amazing Florida wildlife. Top on our list would be the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park that offers great hiking trails, bird watching, and even some fishing spots. Another must see spot is the Naples Botanical Gardens. If you head down there before January 3rd, you can check out their Night Lights in the Gardens display, which - as the name implies - puts the gardens into a spectacular display of lights.

3. Birmingham, Alabama
As the largest city in Alabama - we weren’t expecting Birmingham to have such an extensive nature preserve - but they do, and that’s why they made our list! The Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve has it all - 14 miles of trails to hike, several mining sites that were used in the 1950s, and even a quarry you can check out. Another must-see spot is Railroad park. This 19 acre park in central downtown was developed as a tribute to the city’s history. And if you visit before the end of the year, they have an ice-skating rink that sounds like too much fun.

4. Dawsonville, GA
This town, found slightly northeast of Atlanta, is home to one of the most spectacular state parks we’ve ever visited -- Amicalola Falls State Park. This particular park has too many trails to count, including some that mark the end of the Appalachian Trail. But - our personal favorite - is the one that leads up to the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River - appropriately called Amicalola Falls. If you make it up there - there is a great bridge that walks you across the falls so you can see the water coming and going. The falling water has a magical, ethereal quality that is not to be missed.

5. Chattanooga, TN
Found along the Tennessee River at the bottom of the Appalachian Trail - Chattanooga, TN is home to one of the amazing and incredible, Lookout Mountain. Not only can you see seven - that’s right, SEVEN - different states from the top of this mountain - but it has two other incredible destinations nestled inside it. Hidden in the depths of this mountain is Ruby Falls - America’s largest underground waterfall. The waterfall is often illuminated with interesting colored lights to add to the dramatic effect. As you continue to climb to the top of the mountain - you can make your way through Rock City, which basically looks like a garden paradise. The beautiful, sweeping foliage is a wonderfully stark contrast to the rock formations. Truly incredible.

While we can’t guarantee that all of these destinations will be sporting 70+ degree temperatures, they are sure to be warmer than some of the snowy northern destinations - and hopefully will be enough fun to keep you energized through the spring time!

Trader Online Web Developer