Toy Haulers – caravans with a rear-opening storage space at the back for bikes and recreational equipment are growing in popularity. SEB STEVENS takes a look at a Queenslander aiming to build the best.
While Victoria continues to be Australia’s RV manufacturing hub, companies like Zone, Seachange and Sportscruiser are proof of the innovation continuing to emerge from the Sunshine State.
The clever Queenslanders are taking a new approach to building caravans, in each case taking products and experience from the boating industry.
By using innovative materials and cutting edge construction techniques, they’re able to manufacture sleek and stylish looking products that are strong, durable, lightweight and competitively priced.
Dave Biggar, Director and founder of Zone RV started out with the aim of introducing his company’s Cure Composite panel into the mobile accommodation industry. With a solid understanding of composite material manufacture from years of building catamarans and racing yachts, Dave could see the potential for similar construction methods in the caravan industry.
Managing Director of Zone RV Matt Johns soon joined the team bringing a strong design background with him. Also an experienced professional sailor, he’s responsible for designing all Zone RV products.
More recently, Zone RV welcomed new General Manager Marty Bell to the team – bringing over 16 years of industry experience with him. Marty once owned a luxury coach building business in NZ before managing an off road caravan manufacturing business in Australia.
The Zone team originally started out with a business model not really seen in Australia for 50 years – putting together Do It Yourself Kits for buyers with the time and skills to put together their own caravans.
Unlike the business model of last century, Zone’s kits came complete in flat pack form with all the bits and pieces required. It’s the world’s first “Caravan Flat Pack”. They even established a network of tradespeople around the country you could turn to if you didn’t have the time to assemble the flat pack yourself.
“We recognised a gap in the market where skilled –often, but not always retired customers were keen to save money doing some or all of the construction themselves. We decided to offer stages of DIY to suit all skill levels and budgets both financial and time based,” Matt says.
But as anyone who has bought Ikea furniture can tell you, flat pack assembly isn’t always guaranteed of a great outcome and therefore isn’t everybody’s smorgasbord.
Zone quickly realised demand was there for factory completed models too which led to the opening of a purpose built facility in Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
Now all of the design and construction is carried out in the Zone factory, with the composite panels made nearby at Cure Composite’s manufacturing facility. The Cabinetry is outsourced to a separate specialist with over 15 years of marine and transport industry experience.
Zone RV’s are constructed using full composite material bodies, floors and moulded fibreglass fairings with alloy extrusions. The composite construction eliminates the need for timber framing, heavy insulation and cladding which all add to the RV products overall towing weight.
The body is bonded together – not screwed or bolted, eliminated potential rusting or failure of mechanical connections. This technique creates a completely water and dust proof interior.
Zone does not rely on overlapping the panels and then gluing them together for strength. Instead it uses what it says is a unique extrusion join which creates four times the bonding surface and therefore significantly increases their product’s strength – whilst still keeping weights down.
Zone’s Toy Hauler is a very practical, stylish and user-friendly unit. With 1.5 tonnes of available ‘hauling’ capacity there is well and truly enough room to take all of your favourite toys with you wherever you go. The full-length rear loading tail gate drops down to allow you drive your motorbikes or quads right up into the garage area. There are anchor points located along the floor to secure a wide variety of items in transit.
The toy storage area also doubles as the bedroom – at the push of a button a double bed descends from the ceiling so you can have a comfortable night’s sleep after the day’s activities. This innovative space saving feature leaves ample room inside the Toy Hauler for a full kitchen and even a separate shower and toilet. With 300L of fresh water capacity and a Suburban instant hot water system you can be sure that there will be plenty hot water for many days in the bush.
A 230L fridge will keep all your food and beer (the most important part) cold for days thanks to the 400Amp hour battery bank and 100W Solar panel mounted on the roof. The 3000W pure sine wave inverter will come in very handy when free camping– allowing you to use all your 240V appliances when not at a powered site. If you plan on using the inverter often then the optional extra of more solar panels may be the way to go.
Still in the kitchen area, a triple cooktop oven and microwave give you the freedom and versatility to be able to cook a proper meal every night you are away. And there’s no need to skimp on groceries due to the generous sized full height pantry unit measuring 500mm wide x 600mm deep.
A 26” flat screen TV is mounted to an arm in the garage come bedroom area, which allows you to watch TV in bed. You could also listen to your favourite music relaxing under the shade of the roll out awning thanks to the Fusion stereo with external speakers.
Moving forward, Zone is planning to focus on creating a range of alloy chassis off-road caravans while continuing to focus on delivering some of the most luxurious tit outs in the market.
Learn more about Zone RV: zonerv.com.au