Home And Away

Coromal Caravans

The company is part of the Fleetwood Corporation, which was first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1987, at which time the group’s activities included the operation of caravan parks and the manufacture of park homes. Today, the activities of Fleetwood are focused around three of Australia’s fastest growing industry sectors – recreation, retirement and resources – and include prefabricated modular buildings and portable accommodation for the retirement and resource industries.

For Coromal, there is no peak and trough, no low season during the winter months; people are either buying and using their caravans or considering purchase throughout the year and National Marketing Manager Darren Raven says he is working flat-out the year round. With its current facilities in Perth, the company has the ability to expand production subject to taking on extra staff. “In terms of the yards, there is a peak season starting around October, but in terms of our manufacturing we continue throughout the year,” explains Darren. Caravan dealers need to maintain stock just as a car dealer needs to keep vehicles in the showroom. The Coromal dealer network, including service agents, comprises some 75 outlets across the nation.

The caravans feature ‘European styling,’ which according to Darren is “the path the whole market is heading down. Old picture-frame doors are out and new, one-piece, smooth panel doors are in. You’ll find that on all the European models.” But the Australian products lead in ruggedness and ability to handle tough conditions, he adds.

The so-called ‘grey’ market – pensioners and people who have seen their families grow up and leave home – represents an important part of the caravan and leisure market. Typically, these individuals are not selling up and becoming permanent nomads (and those who do typically choose a motor home, an area Darren says the company has no interest in), but in many cases they will perhaps sell an investment property to fund the purchase of the caravan.

This purchasing power is constrained somewhat by the property market’s currently sluggish performance, and there are also other issues that also have an impact on the caravan market at the moment – one being the politics of the country, another being the state of the stock market. Both impact potential buyers, as do falling bank interest rates, because people with savings have less revenue and their spending is reduced accordingly. Darren says it is up to the manufacturer to react to market conditions, which will never be perfect; hence the company’s recent introduction of a new range of caravans (please see sidebar for further details) that take account of customers’ current spending power.

“Baby boomers are becoming a large part of the market” he says, “as well as a lot of people who already have vans and are trading in or swapping for bigger and better ones.” The new range, however, is aimed more toward the budget end of the market, a sector which Darren admits the company had been missing out on somewhat. These vans – even the single-axle version – come well equipped with comforts such as a queen-sized bed, an en-suite, L-shaped dinette, a spacious kitchen with a full gas oven, hotplate and grill, a roll-out awning on the side, and tunnel boot through the front end. “It’s a full size lightweight caravan with a lot of room in it, designed to meet the price demand in the market,” Darren explains.

The new range is already shaking up the caravan shows, Darren reports, because even in the economy sector “people don’t want to settle for lesser quality.” Customers are more sophisticated and demanding than ever before, he says, and increasingly they are enquiring about construction methods and not being satisfied with any second rate materials. The industry is no longer in a position to simply make what they like and sell to an orderly queue of buyers – nowadays, the imperative is to provide what the customer is asking for.

Right now the majority of the market is caravans. “The industry is looking to buy more caravans than pop-tops,” says Darren, although he points out there are variations state-to-state. South Australians, for example, tend to favour pop-tops and some dealers have individual specialities that reflect conditions in their particular territory. The Coromal pop-tops are noteworthy, in being the lowest on the market, able to fit in the garage and garnering less wind resistance – and thus better fuel economy – when towing (not to mention the weight benefits of an all-aluminium frame and extruded alloy walls – no sandwich or timber in these products).

All Coromal vehicles feature independent suspension, a feature which enhances the safety of the unit whilst being towed as well as providing a more comfortable ride. Darren also mentions the vehicles’ safety advantage whilst reversing. “The RVS 550 camera system is a good product from WAECO,” part of the Dometic Group, he says. “We install the cable in the Element, Princeton and Lifestyle vans as standard.”

Safety, security and peace of mind are all addressed by Coromal’s impressive roadside assistance service. Coromal Assist, just launched in October, is a complementary 36 month, 24/7 roadside assistance package that comes with every new caravan. “From flat tyres, lockouts and lost keys, to emergency accommodation and towing, Coromal Assist has you covered Australia wide.” The service even extends to having messages relayed to family, friends and business associates in case of a disruption or delay. As Darren points out, this gets over the problem of a car being covered by an existing assistance package but when it breaks down, the van itself is usually not covered.

Darren is an enthusiast himself and spends his own free time towing and travelling. “We are built for adventure – you can take these vans anywhere you want to go,” he says. “We build vans that are happy in caravan parks, and vans that are right for you to go cross country. We are renowned for our quality.” Just hitch up and drive – there’s still plenty of room in Australia to enjoy!

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September 22, 2018, 6:09 PM AEST