With so many motorhome brands and manufacturers to choose from and various acquisitions that have taken place, it can be unclear which company built which model and where each motorhome manufacturer is based. Here we unravel the various motorhome manufacturers and brands family trees – in this article, Erwin Hymer Group (EHG)
You might have thought that that shiny new motorhome you have just bought has been carefully designed, manufactured and supplied by one small family-owned company with a history stretching back many decades.
If so, you’d be right about the history, but these days a motorhome brand is much more likely to be a subsidiary of a small number of multinational conglomerates than a standalone outfit. This partly explains why many are starting to look remarkably similar – and not just because of the base vehicles they use.
If you find all this confusing, we are here to help, with a breakdown of exactly who owns what, and who is still battling it out as a solo operator out there.
Let’s start with perhaps the best known manufacturing group.
Erwin Hymer Group (EHG)
The Erwin Hymer Group, named after the founder of its founding brand, gained a much more significant profile in the UK at the end of the last decade when it acquired what had been the Explorer Group, including Elddis motorhomes. Shortly after that the German group became American when it was bought by Thor Industries. Group headquarters, however, remain at Bad Waldsee in southern Germany.
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Located in Kehl, so close to the French border that half its workforce are French, Bürstner was founded in 1958, started producing motorhomes in 1986, and became part of EHG in 1998. This season the new Bürstner Elegance became the first motorhome to feature Thetford’s new INDUS toilet system. www.buerstner.com
Carado was founded in 2006 as a budget brand for Hymer – although it has since developed to become a standalone company offering van conversions, low-profiles and A-classes. All models are produced in EHG’s Neustadt factory near Dresden in former East Germany. www.carado.com
Based in Isny-im-Allgӓu in southern Germany, Dethleffs is 90 years old this year – although it only started producing motorhomes in 1983. Perhaps its best known recent model is the Alpa – a motorhome designed mainly on the back of an idea from a customer. Dethleffs only joined EHG as recently as 2015. www.dethleffs.co.uk
The youngest member of the EHG family was only founded in 2016, but already offers the full range of A-classes, overcabs, low-profiles and (on the Continent only) van conversions. It’s rapid development is no doubt partly due to the factory’s location in San Casciano in Tuscany, the epicentre of Italian motorhome manufacturing. www.etrusco.com
ELDDIS (including Compass)
When EHG bought what was then the Explorer Group in 2017, the only motorhome brand the County Durham-based group produced was Elddis. Shortly after that it resurrected the Compass name that had lain dormant for many years. Now there is a Compass motorhome to match an Elddis motorhome in every range the company produces, including the most recent Motorhome of the Year award winner, the Autoquest/Avantgarde CV60. www.elddis.co.uk
The brand from which the whole group takes its name was founded by Erwin Hymer in 1957 and was already making motorhomes by 1961. Today’s models are instantly recognisable on the road, thanks to their ergonomic exterior, and often include innovations such as the SLC chassis developed in partnership with Mercedes Benz. Visit the factory at Bad Waldsee in southern Germany and you can take in the Erwin Hymer Museum too. www.hymer.com
Taking its name from the famous Soviet space dog, who is also immortalised on its branding, Italian brand Laika is known for its luxury vehicles that show fine attention to detail. Based, like Etrusco, in San Casciano in Tuscany, the company became part of EHG in 2000. Its state of the art new factory was opened in 2016 by then Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. www.laika.it/en
NIESMANN + BISCHOFF
We are talking serious luxury here. Niesmann + Bischoff is a niche manufacturer, producing Arto and Flair A-classes that in some cases would rival the value of your home if bought new. The launch of Smove low-profiles has brought the brand marginally closer to ordinary mortals, but you still get a highly individualised product. The company was founded in 1981 and became part of EHG in 1996. www.niesmann-bischoff.com/en
Just as Carado started life as Hymer’s budget brand, Sunlight was initially a budget brand from Dethleffs, but has since separated out to become a standalone brand with its own factory within EHG. It offers the full range of A-classes, overcabs and low-profiles, but has been directing much of its marketing attention recently on its Cliff van conversions. www.sunlight.de/en
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These days a motorhome brand is much more likely to be a subsidiary of a small number of multinational conglomerates than a standalone outfit.