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French firms leading the way as campervan sales soar

Campervan and motorhome sales rose 14% last year in a continuing series of sales increases that saw French maker Trigano lead with a 40% market share.

Two other French firms are in the top four, with Rapido and Pilote split by German firm Hymer.

The giant PSA of Peugeot and Citroën also sits in a mighty position across Europe as it is the second largest supplier of base models and engines for camping-car conversions.

PSA owes that largely to Citroën, where a seven-fold sales increase since 2014 sees it No2 in the European market behind long-term leader Fiat.

Last year it overtook the American Ford.

Pascal Bélot, PSA’s international manager for camping-cars, told Connexion that improvements in fuel consumption and emissions had helped it achieve the greatest growth in the market with clean vehicles that were good to drive.

“In 2014, Fiat had 75% of the market but today it has fallen to 62% and it is still falling. We are targeting this with new engines that offer more torque – the key desire of camping-car owners – and we aim to sell more Jumper-based models.

“Today there are two markets, with the small van market dominated by the VW California and this market is hugely dynamic.

The smaller the van, the more dynamic the market.

“Across the market, sales are stable but in small vans sales are exploding, with the 30-year-old California way out in front.

“We are on 10% and in third place but our Space­Tourer is now a key van for Pössl, the German van conversion market leader, and its Campster is now a credible alternative to VW as a day-to-day van.

“It is more modern, cheaper to buy and use, more compact on the outside and better and quieter to drive.”

VW, on the other hand, is happy with California sales but looks to extend the range beyond the simple campervan with the arrival in showrooms this month of its Crafter-based Grand California.

This is the maker’s first motorhome and, at 6.8m long, it has room for a 170cm x 200cm bed, plus bathroom and toilet.

Philippe Jourdain, VW’s head of products, said: “We’ve had lots of experience since the very first Combi and we have customers who like us.

Our prices are strong but they stay strong in the secondhand market as people like and want our campervans.

 “Now we are looking at a different customer – retired people who have more time to devote to long journeys and want their comfort – and the Grand California is a complete new line. It offers more of a ‘house on wheels’ than the California, which is more of an everyday vehicle.”

Pricing is likely to start at around €70,000 for the base model.

See also:

Agri-tourism network gives taste of the country

Holiday across France with go-anywhere vans

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