Niall Hampton

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Let's reveal the winners of Practical Motorhome's Owner Satisfaction Awards 2016 for pre-owned ’vans and their supplying dealers, plus all base vehicles

New winners feature in both categories of our annual Owner Satisfaction Awards for pre-owned motorhomes and their supplying dealers, and Renault has topped the reliability tables for base vehicles underpinning new motorcaravans for the second year running. 

In a French one-two, popular imported brand Rapido takes top spot as the highest-placed Gold Award winner, polling a very respectable 97% among respondents. 

And we welcome Travelworld to the winners’ podium, as the Telford-based dealer scored 92.5%, narrowly beating last year’s winner Meridian Motorhomes by half a percentage point to take the top spot for 2016. 

Since 2004, the Owner Satisfaction Awards have recognised the best in motorhome reliability and build quality, plus the great customer service offered by supplying dealers, as voted for by readers of Practical Motorhome

It is the only survey of its type to feature both new and used motorhomes, and since 2014, it has been generously supported by leading motorhome water and heating systems supplier Whale

There are two scoring classifications: Gold is awarded to those scoring 80-100%; Silver is awarded for scores of 60-79%. 

The winners in 2016’s survey of pre-owned ’vans 

Based on responses to our survey, there were 15 Gold Award winners for pre-owned motorcaravans this year, up from 10 in 2015. Familiar names like Murvi, Autocruise and Bessacarr all featured, alongside imported brands Bürstner and Adria

Impressive performances were recorded by WildAx and Carthago, both garnering Gold Awards after not appearing in the league tables last year, and Rapido, converting last year’s Silver Award score (76%) to an awards-topping 97%. 

Many established brands also improved their scores for 2016, trading up from Silver to Gold rankings – these included Auto-Trail, Elddis, Auto-Sleepers, Hymer, Lunar and Chausson

Among suppliers of pre-owned motorcaravans that appeared in our survey, Travelworld came from nowhere to top the league table of Gold Awards, joining other regular winners Southern Motorhome Centre (Taplow), Heart of England Motorhomes, MDG (Three Counties/Countrywide/VW Kamper Centre) and Wellsbridge Motorhomes. A previous Silver Award winner (Todds Mobile Leisure) and a new entrant (Spinney Motorhomes) – took the total of Gold Award winners to eight. 

In the Silver Award league tables, there were four winners: Marquis Motorhomes, Dolphin Motorhomes, Davan Motorhomes and Fuller Motorhomes. 

Base vehicles for new and pre-owned motorhomes 

As reported, Renault topped the satisfaction score charts for high-volume selling base vehicles underpinning new motorcaravans, scoring a healthy 92% for its Trafic and Master. SEVEL’s Fiat Ducato and Citroën Relay came next, both scoring 84%, while Ford’s erstwhile Transit polled 63%. 

For new motorcaravans riding on low-volume selling base vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter bested the VW Transporter/Crafter by one percentage point, with 94%. 

In the pre-owned market, the Sprinter came out on top, with an 89.1% score, ahead of the VW Transporter/Crafter/LT (86.5%), Fiat Ducato (84.5%), Peugeot Boxer (84.3%) and Ford Transit (83.9%). Renault’s Trafic and Master bases (81.1%) featured slightly ahead of Citroën’s Relay (75.8%). Other base vehicles (including those from Iveco, Hyundai, Toyota, Ford and the Peugeot Expert) recorded 78.16% when their scores were averaged out. 

Meet the winner – used motorhomes 

Alexis Hacques is Rapido Group’s export manager for the UK. The French manufacturer is delighted with its win, especially as Britain is one of its three-biggest export markets. 

“To receive an award based on customer opinion is particularly rewarding, and it’s very special for pre-owned vehicles as it demonstrates the long-term value and build quality that Rapido offers,” he said. 

“We build our products to make sure they can last, so it is good to see our customers confirming that this aim is met. We offer buyers innovative vehicles with cosy and warm interiors using quality materials such as maple wood, a very high level of standard equipment, as well as solid and strong construction with materials like polyester and polyurethane.” 

When asked why a Rapido ’van makes a good pre-owned buy, Alexis believes it’s a combination of quality and value. 

“Rapido has a strong reputation for pre-owned motorhomes. Many of our customers buying a new vehicle from us purchased a pre-owned one first, then became convinced by the product, the quality, the service and obviously the performance of the Rapido network. Rapido vehicles keep a high value thanks to their build quality, and people identify them as an intelligent investment.” 

And the company is committed to the UK for the long-term, he added, so buyers can continue to have confidence in the brand. 

“Our history is linked with that of the leisure industry in the UK, so we can clearly say that we are an established brand here. It’s also important to highlight that even through more difficult years Rapido always maintained a focus on the UK, developing specific models for our customers here, and maintaining our partnership with our strong dealers. Not all Continental brands show such a long-term commitment, so UK customers can be sure that Rapido will always be there with exciting products and good service.” 

Meet the winner – supplying dealer of pre-owned motorcaravans 

For the highest-scoring dealer of pre-owned motorcaravans, Travelworld from Telford can take a bow. The firm hasn’t featured in our awards for several years, so you’d think its performance for 2016 must have been a big surprise. Not so, according to sales manager Nick Barker. 

“Customer satisfaction is an area of strong company-wide focus,” he said. “Training and infrastructure investment has been continuous throughout the history of the company, with the aim of continually improving the customer experience. 

“Our strong and dedicated customer service team has the authority to make instant decisions in order to get any issues resolved properly and quickly. We also encourage customers to stay with us a few nights upon collection of a vehicle to properly test it before departure.” 

“Ultimately we want our customers to become our friends, with the goal of continuous future custom,” he added. 

Travelworld is an exclusive Erwin Hymer Group dealership, retailing new Carado, HymerCar, Hymer and Niesmann + Bischoff motorhomes from an impressive site in Telford, Shropshire. Customers come from far and wide, including 7% from Scotland, with many buyers based in touring hotspots France, Spain and Portugal

With so many high-end ’vans in stock and available to order, it's little surprise there’s a good selection of pre-owned units, too. 

“New Hymer Group vehicles naturally generate Hymer and Hymer Group products in part-exchange, but regardless of the vehicle brand, thorough pre-delivery preparation and servicing is essential,” said Nick. 

“We still also actively purchase Hymer and Hymer Group motorhomes to satisfy market demands. We carefully assess each incoming vehicle for quality and condition – auctioning, trading out or declining the purchase of all sub-standard vehicles.” 

For in-depth analysis of the Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Survey 2016 for pre-owned motorcaravans and their supplying dealers, plus base vehicles for new and pre-owned motorhomes, see the May 2016 issue of Practical Motorhome, on sale 10 March.

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