Congratulations to WildAx, top of the tree among direct sales brands with a superb score of 85.5%, well over the threshold needed for a Gold Award. That’s a healthy 5.5% improvement over WildAx’s score last year.
There’s a strong supporting cast, with Vantage (82.4%) and Shire (81.5%) rounding out the podium. Two other Gold Award winners are close behind: Murvi (81.4%) and Wellhouse Leisure (81.1%).
More often than not the best of the Silver Award winners are only just short of the scores achieved by the Gold winners. This year, though, there’s clear daylight between them, with no direct sales band scoring between 70% and 80%. However, that’s not to belittle the achievements of IH (66.2%), Bilbo’s (65.3%), and Hillside Leisure (64.8%) in earning a Silver Award.
What of the big name brands, available from dealers up and down the country?
Adria has leapt up the results table to take the top spot. Ninth in last year’s combined direct sales and multi-dealer table, it sits on top of the pile in 2019. The score of 80.4% is good enough for a Gold Medal.
It’s disappointing that more manufacturers don’t join Adria – there are no other Gold Award winners this year. However, the list of brands collecting a Silver Award is a long one.
In 2018, across both direct sales and multi-dealer brands, there were seven Gold Award winners. This year there are six, but all but one are direct sales, whereas in 2018 the majority were available through several dealerships.
Across both types of manufacturer, there were 17 Silver Award winners last year. In 2019, that increases to 19. So, a shake-up in the order but not a huge change in overall standards.
New base vehicles
A satisfying ownership experience depends on more than the quality of the conversion and dealer service. The base vehicle is also key.
The Fiat Ducato is the most common base vehicle, with more than twice as many new motorhomes based on the Fiat than any other vehicle in the survey. Owners are well satisfied with its performance, with an overall score of 80.4%.
However, if you are looking for the best base vehicle rather than the most popular, our respondents would point you in the direction of the VW Transporter, with an excellent score of 90.8%. It’s closely followed by the Mercedes Sprinter, with a 90.3% satisfaction rating.
The other brands to score over 80% are Citroën, Ford, Iveco and Toyota.
Let's move on to the awards for dealers.
You might expect the list of top-rated direct sales dealers to be much the same as the list of direct sales manufacturers. However, that’s not always the case, with some dealerships being more highly rated than their products.
Take WildAx, this year’s top-rated direct-sales manufacturer. It doesn’t make the list of award winners as a dealership. That’s a surprise, as it was a Gold Award dealer last year.
Instead, the winning dealership is Vantage Motorhomes in Leeds, achieving a second Gold Award for 2019 with an exceptional score of 96.7%. The closest challenger is Wellhouse Leisure with a score of 95.4%, followed by Murvi (93.3%) and VW specialist, Bilbo’s (87.8%).
No direct sales dealerships score highly enough for a Silver Award.
Among dealerships selling a variety of big brands, top spot goes to Todds Motorhomes in Preston. Mentioned in dispatches last year (meaning a high score but a low sample size), Todds earns a Gold Award with a near perfect score of 97.4%. That makes it the highest scoring new motorcaravan dealer across both direct sales and multi-dealer categories.
Five other dealerships score highly enough, and consistently enough, for a Gold Award. Geoff Cox Leisure in Derbyshire repeats last year’s Gold, finishing second with a score of 94.1%. It swaps places with Dolphin Motorhomes on the 2019 podium. The Hampshire dealership scores 93.2%.
The other Gold Award winners are Richard Baldwin Motorhomes in Halifax (86.2%), Motorhomes and Caravans Ltd of Hull (84.2%), and Becks Motorhomes in Great Yarmouth (82.8%).
No fewer than seven dealers collect Silver Awards. That makes for 17 award winning new motorhome dealerships of both types, a slight increase on the 15 award winners in 2018.
There’s been a lot of movement within the Gold and Silver award league tables this year, resulting in Leeds-based Vantage Motorhomes topping both manufacturer and dealer tables for new motorhomes, closely followed by manufacturers Shire and Knaus, plus retailers Dolphin Motorhomes and Geoff Cox Leisure.
For the fourth year running, the biggest single group of purchasers was in the 65-74 age group (40%) though it was pleasing to note a significant uplift in the number of purchasers aged between 45-54.
Confidence appears to be returning to the market and folk are ‘buying better’. After four years of falling average purchase prices, this year they showed a 12% increase on 2017’s figure boosting the ‘nominal average purchase price’ up to £53,151.
After last year’s spike in the sales of both campervan and high-top panel van conversions, both became victims of really strong sales of coachbuilt motorhomes, which increased market share to 77%.
The well-received Sevel chassis (Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Citroën Relay) continues its bid for total domination and now accounts for more than 88% of new motorhome underpinnings.
While there have been a few sensational individual performances from some companies – take a bow Vantage and Dolphin - it was disappointing to note the number of manufacturers gaining Gold awards has slipped from 26 in 2017 to just seven this year and the number of Gold Award winners among dealers has dropped from 16 in 2017 to four. There haven’t been any changes to the questionnaire or marking scheme that might have explained this.