Russia was formed in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, while China has a very long history and is now the most highly populated country in the world, with 18 cities of over 10 million inhabitants. Russia is the biggest country, though, at over 17,000 sq km – more than 11% of the Earth’s total land mass. In both Russia and China, motorhomes are popular, with a thriving industry in both countries.
Twenty years ago, I was approached to advise on developing the network of government-managed high-facility campsites and stopovers in China (family commitments prevented him from accepting).
Back then, they had two official campsites. By 2017, they had 825, and aimed to have more than 1000 by 2023. Regular escorted overland motorcaravan trips to the Silk Road take place. Commercial vehicle manufacturer SAIC rents out ’vans through the RV2Go platform.
SAIC in UK
Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation (SAIC) was formed in 1955 and has grown to be China’s largest LCV manufacturer. Nowadays, they have made serious inroads into the UK market with their Maxus range of diesel and electrically powered vehicles.
These are sensational value for money and (crucially) reported to be great to drive. Surely UK van conversion companies should be considering building on these?
Guangdong the company (based in Guangdong province) makes a range of Ecocampor fixed and demountable motorcaravan bodies. Most demountables have the door in the rear, but this one is designed for flatbed pick-ups – hence the side door. Bodies are available online from $8000 plus shipping and any import taxes due.
Skilful GRP moulding
Eagle-eyed motorhomers will recognise the base vehicle as a Maxus V80C. This is the first production Luton overcab motorhome from the Hebei Caravan Trailer Company Ltd. Their skill in GRP moulding is obvious. It was developed for their very stylish trailer caravans and adventure trailer bodies. These luxurious motorhomes have a generous standard specification, and even include a plumbed-in washer-drier as standard!
The ‘forehead pop-up’
Qixing Camp has a huge facility in Suizhou, Hubei Province. They manufacture a wide range of different types of motorcaravan on both domestic and European chassis-cabs and pick-up trucks.
It is rumoured that a big A-Class RV is currently being developed on US underpinnings (take a look at my guide to the RVs of America to get an idea of US ‘vans). The elevating overcab roof on the pictured Iveco is known as a ‘forehead pop-up’.
The Lada Niva 4×4 base vehicle first appeared in the UK over 40 years ago and you can still buy a new one today. It has been rebadged as a Lada Bronto because there is an all-new Niva ready to start production. It was rumoured that this Autodom by Moscow-based Lux Form would retail in Europe at around £18,000 and in the UK (RHD) at under £20,000.
King can demountable
Another project delayed for export is this dismountable by Novograd-based Igor Khrisanov. Shown below is a prototype designed to fit on a (Ducato-sized) ‘king cab’ pick-up. Others have been developed for standard- and double-cab variants. Coachwork is in moulded GRP. The motorcaravan body can be bought as a bare (glazed) shell or fully fitted out.
Many of Russia’s commercial vehicles were originally designed for use by their armed forces. They are highly sought after when sold out-of-service, by both commercial and DIY converters (including some based in the UK pre-2020). Pictured below is a Kamaz 6×6 expedition motorhome towing a four-wheeled ‘drawbar’ (steering) trailer!
Another successful realisation by Lux Form, this time on the more modern Lada Granta chassis-cab (developed with help from Renault).
Ladas are made by AvtoVAZ in Tolyatti, on the River Volga (hence the ship on the badge). Overall length: 5m (16’ 5”). Envisaged price in Europe (under) €30,000; imports to much of Europe currently under sanction.
Head over to my guide to the motorhomes of Japan and Malaysia to find out about other ‘vans of the world too.
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