by Collyn Rivers and Andrew Woodmansey
Chapter 13 of the Caravan Buyers Guide contains ten predictions about the caravan of the future. We’ve included four of them below.
Will the caravan of the future look like this?
Prediction 1 – Caravans Will Become Lighter
Caravans will need to become lighter for a number of reasons. Firstly, because tow vehicles are becoming lighter to improve fuel consumption. This is being achieved with the increased use of aluminium and carbon in vehicle manufacturing. These lightweight vehicles will not be able to tow heavy caravans safely. Secondly, because lighter caravans assist in reducing fuel consumption. Thirdly, because the same materials and manufacturing techniques being used to reduce the weight of tow vehicles will become increasingly available to the recreational vehicle industry, making lighter caravans both stronger and cheaper. Weight has long ceased to be a pre-requisite for strength.
Prediction 2 – Caravans Will Become Shorter
In future towball mass will need to be reduced, and should relate to the length of the caravan and the distribution of mass along the caravan’s length. This will require the local caravan industry to install testing rigs to establish the yaw inertia (a measure of the van’s tendency to yaw) of their products. Because shorter caravans are less likely to yaw, these tests will become challenging for any caravans over 6.5 metres. The trend towards shorter and lighter caravans will require a high level of understanding within the local caravan industry surrounding the suspension, handling and physics of caravan towing. Fifth wheelers will become increasingly popular replacements for longer caravans.
Prediction 3 – The Way Caravans Are Made Will Change
As caravans become lighter, caravan construction methods that reduce weight will proliferate. These methods include lightweight chassis which integrate structural elements, central kitchens and fittings (including water tanks), and greater use of single axles and lightweight suspension. Lighter tow vehicles may no longer be able to withstand the forces that weight distribution hitches impose.
Prediction 4 – Stabilisation Systems Will Become A Legal Requirement
To assist stability, yaw detecting braking systems may eventually be legislated as obligatory. There is also likely to be a long overdue move to power assisted disc brakes. The towing speed limit may be reduced for any caravan over 20 ft long.
Read the Caravan Buyers Guide to see our other six predictions.