Over the past year we’ve asked those of you who bought a new or used motorhome since January 2013 to give us your feedback.
Now we share with you the results of and key insights from the Practical Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards 2017.
First, we’re looking at those in the new motorhomes for sale sector. Buying a new ’van is a major investment – and not just in terms of the not insignificant outlay required to purchase a new model.
You want to enjoy your holidays, so you’ve got to be sure this is the right motorhome for you, featuring a layout you’re happy with and the kit you need.
And if you have any problems with your ’van, you want to ensure they’re resolved efficiently, which is why it’s not just the motorhome that matters, but the supplying dealer, too.
Why our survey matters
This is why Practical Motorhome’s Owner Satisfaction Survey exists. We ask you for feedback on your new ’van and its supplying dealer.
Based on what you told us, we’ve awarded satisfaction scores for motorcaravan manufacturers, dealers and base vehicles. Those that impressed you receive coveted Gold and Silver awards.
It is the only scheme of its kind to feature both new and pre-owned motorhomes, and your views are equally important to us whether you have spent £2000, £200,000 or anything in between. So, let’s dig into those results.
Brits flying high
When we first released the results of our 2017 survey, brought to you by Practical Motorhome and The Camping and Caravanning Club, in association with Club Care Insurance, we announced that Bilbo’s topped the results when it came to manufacturers of new motorhomes for sale, with a satisfaction score of 97.6%.
While it’s always pleasing to see a British motorcaravan manufacturer in the number one spot and taking home a Gold award, it is even better to note that of the 27 brands to receive Gold awards in this category, over half were British.
These included joint-third-placed Vantage and fifth-placed Hillside Leisure, which chalked up satisfaction scores of 94% and 91.43% respectively.
And what of the other manufacturers of new motorhomes for sale in our top 10? It was one apiece for Germany (Hobby, 96.5% – second overall), Spain (Benimar, 94%), Slovenia (Adria, 90.64%) and Italy (Roller Team, 90%).
Other household names receiving Gold awards this year include Pilote (89.25%), Chausson (88.62%), Dethleffs (88.2%), Knaus (87.57%), Auto-Sleepers (86.55%), Elddis/Compass (86.14%), Auto-Trail (86.01%), Rapido (85.71%), Hymer (83.91%) and Bailey (82.2%).
Swift Group brands Bessacarr (81.87%), Autocruise (81.06%) and Escape (80.54%) all took Gold awards, too. Swift itself just missed out, its satisfaction rating of (77.8%) meant it was the top-performing Silver award winner.
Please see the table above for the full list of Gold winners.
What’s the deal with dealers?
The top five dealers of new motorhomes in our 2017 survey all earned satisfaction scores of over 90% – and, interestingly, the top three are all family-run businesses.
So congratulations to Becks Motorhomes (96%), Wellhouse Leisure (95.4%), Todds Motorhomes (91.51%), Hillside Leisure (91.4%) and Southdowns Motorhome Centre (91.33%).
In total, 15 dealers received recognition the form of Gold awards in 2017. Plus, nine more scooped Silver awards, Marquis, the UK’s biggest motorhome dealer, leading the way (73%).
Which base vehicle is best?
Despite some moans, nearly everyone who responded to our survey about new motorhomes they’d bought since January 2013 told us that they would buy the same make of base vehicle again – and that says it all, really. We’d go as far to say that there isn’t a ‘lemon’ among them.
Even the lowest-placed Renault Master was considered by most as ‘a delight to drive’. The brand’s lower score was really down to ambiguity as to whether repairs and spares are the responsibility of Renault cars or Renault Trucks and long waits for delivery, rather than something poor on the vehicle itself.
VW’s T6 appears to have performed significantly better than the T4 and early T5 variants, and felt to be better value-for-money than Transporters used to be, so there’s some good news there.
The Toyota Alphard had sufficient responses to be included in our results and fared brilliantly. However, it only received a mention in despatches for ‘new’ because all were new motorhome conversions on pre-owned base vehicles.
What went wrong?
It is concerning that once again the frequency of warranty claims appears to have increased year-on-year.
The two issues that, according to your feedback, usually but not exclusively required many return trips to the dealer to either have another go at fixing the same fault or for further similar faults to be attended to, were water ingress, and fit and finish.
Of course ‘fit and finish’ is a bit of a grey, all-encompassing term. What we found more disappointing was that, despite the much-trumpeted solutions from all major motorhome manufacturers, water ingress is still an issue.
This just is not acceptable. It seems to be a lack of consistency. Most ’vans, regardless of the manufacturer, don’t leak ever. But a worrying minority do.
Therefore it’s not a case that this manufacturer or that one can or cannot roll out fantastic, well-sealed motorhomes, but that they can’t seem to do it all the time.
Another disturbing trend was that water ingress was occurring more frequently with high-tops and camper van conversions, and is no longer limited to coachbuilts.
But, and because we want to end on a high note, back in the late 1970s and 80s, around 50% of coachbuilt motorhomes developed major leaks in the first five years – today, according to what you tell us, it is 14%.
By any standard, that’s an improvement.