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Postcard from Dusseldorf!


There are 17 halls and this is just a quiet corner of one...


It's difficult to believe it's four years since I attended the Caravan Salon here in Düsseldorf. So much has happened in that time – from the drought and bushfires close to home to the global Covid pandemic and – on a personal level – the loss of my wife (aka Mrs iMotorhome) to cancer.

I have to say it's good to be back and with this being my third attendance, it also feels quite familiar. That doesn't, however, diminish the sheer scale and initial overwhelm when confronted with something like 2500 vehicles in 17 halls, sprawling over 25 hectares, on day one!

The Dusseldorf Caravan Salon is orders of magnitude bigger than what we're used to Downunder...


Reportedly the world’s largest RV show, first and foremost it's a German show for a domestic audience – and what an audience: You might be surprised to know that Germany manufactures more motorhomes than any other nation, including the USA – some 66,000 in 2022, compared with something like 58,000 across the Atlantic. Having said that, the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon attracts visitors from around the world and isn't just a showcase of vehicle design and innovation – it also showcases RV componentry and engineering. Düsseldorf is also the place global RV insiders visit for ideas that often appear ‘reimagined’ at home. To be fair, no other market has the combined resources – technical, financial and creative – to invest so much in research and design, and the building of myriad prototypes.

Hymer wowed the world with a crazy, futuristic Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 concept in 2018 and here is the production version, almost unchanged. More than a just a breath of fresh air, it literally throws away the rule book on RV design.


In Australia, we seem to struggle to produce more than 1000 to 1200 new motorhomes and campervans annually, which makes the genuine innovation by a small number of manufacturers all the more remarkable. It also explains why the volume builders seem to churn out the same products year after year, occasionally making a song and dance about a repositioned fridge or whatever as a great leap forward!


While the number of vehicles on display is mind-boggling, there is a lot of repetition within and between manufacturers. As in the automotive world, many RV brands seem to have a sub-brand or even two – think Hymer with Burstner and Carado, or Knaus with Weinsberg – with mostly identical models only appearing to vary in equipment levels and trim. That seems to be the way of things amongst mass-market manufacturers, but at the other end of the scale you have the small-volume builders producing everything from the largest, most exquisite and expensive A-Class motorhomes to the ultimate, continent-conquering expedition vehicles. There truly is something for everybody here, but you have to do a bit of wandering to find the gems of innovation.

Just a small corner of the Burstner stand in Hall 6 – motorhomes everywhere you turn and so many more besides...


As iMotorhome evolves I see it becoming a place to find out what’s happening at RV shows around the world. That will give us a unique position, as there are plenty of websites, social media pages and magazines catering to local markets and interests. And starting with Dusseldorf, you’ll see much more video content from shows I can attend, as a moving picture is worth many thousands of words.


Finally, rather than bombard you with email updates, be sure to regularly check the website and new Facebook Page; the latter necessitated since being hacked in late 2020. Both will continue to evolve, so please give iMotorhome a big ‘Like’ and be sure to tell your RVing friends. There’s a long road ahead and it will be good to travel with like-minded enthusiasts. See you out there!

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gscohens
gscohens
Aug 28, 2023

Richard thanks for the post. Some years ago I attended the biggest marine show in Europe at the same venue, It was Feb right in the middle of winter. The Germans do trade fairs better than any others imo. Have you considered Youtube rather than Facebook? I found Facebook difficult to delete all the rubbish to get to where I wanted to be so I pulled the pin and found Youtube a much friendlier place. Have bratwurst mit brot for me. Cheers Gary

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G'day Gary, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, the trade fairs over here are on another level and yes, I do/will be using Youtube, as well as the website. There has long been an iMotorhome Youtube channel, but it's covered in digital dust and cobwebs (even worse than the website!). Fortunately, I've got the virtual vacuum cleaner out and will get on to it shortly! Oh, and did you just enjoy the bratwurst mit brot? I did! Burp...

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Hi Richard. Thanks for the report. Very interesting.

In Australia, house builders are being urged to cease using LPG for heating and cooking because of pollution and health risks. However there is no sign of reduction in the release of RVs with gas cooking equipment. Is there any sign of change in this area at the show?

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Hi Ray. Thanks for the question, it's a good one. I think globally you'll see LPG phased-out of RVs, replaced by induction cookers and electric, on-demand hot water systems, as lithium battery capacities increase and prices fall. There will be a place for LPG for a time, along with diesel-fired cookers and hot water systems, but eventually everything will be electric. Most mainstream vehicles here still seem to be in the LPG system, but many of the smaller, niche manufacturers are certainly embracing an electric/solar future. I'll also start asking around to see what insiders say. Cheers!

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