Are Earth Cruisers & Co. overpriced?

funky

New member
Thanks for all for the feedback! Some very interesting thoughts! Great forum! There clearly is a market for heavily loaded rigs on Canter 4x4-chassis. Earth Cruiser, GXV and ATW/SMB are fishing in this $ 250,000-pond. Great products, no doubt. But not all offroad-enthusiasts need this comfort level. Some prefer less complex builds with fewer integrated systems - and thus less risk for system failures in remote areas. Also, with the money saved, a lot of additional travelling can be done. People and travel styles vary. I could imagine there would also be a market for equally offroad-capable but less luxurious Canters with monocoque campers (pop top, containerable & camper/cabin-connection) in the $ 150,000-area. I have not yet heard an argument that this could not be feasible. XP Campers show the way. The price tag for their camper cabin (without flatbed) stands at $ 64,000 and this includes very high quality built & systems. Their EEXP is an interesting project, too, but for my needs too small. Lightweight, super strong and well insulated fibreglass composite constructions on Canters-chassis are an exciting and still quite recent development. May new players bring more choices.
 
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cwsqbm

Explorer
People confuse "too expensive for me" with "over-priced". Earth Cruisers are priced according to their very limited production and complexity, not to mention that they are new and not used vehicles.

There is no one right answer for everyone, and saying "my choice is better because...." is just a waste of bandwidth. I'm ashamed to have even clicked on another one of these threads.
 

Bandicoot

Adventurer
I have a good friend who is an excellent DIY type of guy. We had already purchased an EC in 2010 and he then decided he wanted to build something similar himself as it would be "way cheaper". In 2011 he found a 2004 Canter 4x4 (i.e. the older 3.9 litre model, so the vehicle was already about 6 years old) as a cab-chassis that had already been converted to super singles and had a suspension upgrade. He paid $40 k for this. He then spent about a year getting the camper built and fitted and the other mods he wanted done etc. He did some of this himself but got body builders to do the camper box itself.
His additional direct costs were a further $120k and that didn't include his "contributed labour" which would have been at the very least another 500 hours as he spent almost every free hour (evenings and weekends etc) on it for that year. If you put a value of $100 per hour on his time (or you can use your own value), then his cost came to $210k and this is not the same sort of build as you will get from an EC with its R&D and "on the ground" experience over many vehicle builds now, and was for a base vehicle more than 5 years old (already) and with no warranty on the base vehicle or much of the other stuff either etc. I say this because he has had some things go wrong (Webasto cooktop, the sophisticated power management system, etc, and when the suppliers heard that his was a "DIY" job he had a great deal of trouble getting them to honour the warranties. It ended up a PITA for him and he certainly was no longer convinced that he had really saved any $!
On this basis, $250 k seems to me to be good value for money. Sure it's expensive but by no means overpriced or significantly more expensive than it would cost you to do a genuinely comparable job yourself, assuming you have the time and skills, equipment and the facility to be able to do this!

Rick
 

whatcharterboat

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
?........There clearly is a market for heavily loaded rigs on Canter 4x4-chassis. Earth Cruiser, GXV and ATW/SMB are fishing in this $ 250,000-pond. Great products, no doubt. But not all offroad-enthusiasts need this comfort level. Some prefer less complex builds with fewer integrated systems - and thus less risk for system failures in remote areas....... I could imagine there would also be a market for equally offroad-capable but less luxurious Canters with monocoque campers (pop top, containerable & camper/cabin-connection) in the $ 150,000-area. I have not yet heard an argument that this could not be feasible........
I do not consider these type of vehicles overly "luxurious". Speaking for the Global Warrior (and others mentioned I hope would be similar) , a great emphasis is placed on simplicity of systems and longevity of components and construction. If if it can be made from stainless instead of mild steel it is. If it can be made from infused vinylester instead of hand laid polyester (or plywood) it is. The quality of materials is all aimed at making the vehicles capable of handling extreme travel with minimal hassle rather than "luxury" or superfluous gimmicks and potential system failures. Systems are kept as simple as possible.

As for being "equally capable offroad", the chassis component of these builds along with all the offroad mods added (in Australia) is usually a minimum of $100k alone. These builds always run between 500 and 1000 hours ( good guess Rick) , so add labour and the ancillary costs of running a shed, R&D costs (and they need to be substantial or there is potentially warranty claims), then add the cost of using all high quality components (usually marine) and you start to get some idea of where pricing comes from.

Sure there would be a market for a truck in this class at only $150k but IMO it is just not possible. Not even close.



Hey well said Rick above. I tried to say gidday when you were parked in SW WA late last year......Down near Denmark but some lady jumped in front of me and cornered you wanting to ask about the truck.....guess you're used to that by now. Regards John
 
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mhiscox

Expedition Leader
I've been listening to the "they're overpriced" complaint for multiple decades now, and I have decided that perhaps the biggest problem is that the people complaining have never run a business. Thus, when they do their calculations of what an overland truck should cost, they undervalue, or totally ignore, lease costs, taxes, medical insurance, liability insurance, advertising, interest on money borrowed, accounting, engineering, support staff, heat, lights, tools, freight costs, certifications, a modest profit, etc., or even the realistic value of the labor. If a do-it-yourselfer calculates the "correct selling price" of a vehicle by adding the cost of a chassis to the out-of-pocket cost of materials, everything is going to seem expensive, and even someone attempting to take into account labor and some of the other more obvious costs will still be substantially low. The indirect costs for running any business are significant; it's rare for any business fully tracking its expenses to be below 20% of goods/services sold.
 

gait

Explorer
its really low volume manufacturing, which means all those high overheads have to be spread over small numbers.

There's a spectrum, from one-off diy that has limitless labour and limited tooling available and takes forever (literally, some projects are never completed sufficiently to use) to sophisticated production line techniques which take hours for final assembly for high volumes (which is never achieved for expedition vehicles).
 

SkiFreak

Expedition Leader
Being an owner/builder myself, I can concur that most people really have no clue how much it costs, or how long it takes to build a vehicle of this type. Personally, I have already spent hundreds of hours working on my truck. I do not add up receipts any longer either (if truth be told, I haven't for a long time now), as it is a little depressing. The cost of all of those "little items" adds us really quick. As a simple example, I have spent over $1500 in nuts and bolts!
In a one off, owner build things are inevitably more expensive. You are normally buying one of this and a couple of those. Companies are not going to give any significant discount for small quantities of goods, and what's worse, most owner/builders have to pay retail prices for these parts, unlike a business that would get the same parts at wholesale prices.

Yes, vehicles like the Global Warrior and Earthcruiser have what seems to be a hefty price tag, but if I were still working I fully expect that I would have paid that price, opposed to building my own vehicle.
As a Fitter, I am very aware that sometimes the cost of building things far outweighs the cost of buying something that is already made. In my opinion, expedition campers fall into that category if you add everything up.
 

drodio

Entrepreneur & Lifehacker
I'd love to get more of a comparison going between an Earthcruiser and an XP Camper.

My wife and I didn't really consider an Earthcruiser in our evaluation of Sportsmobile vs. FWC vs. Hallmark vs. Outfitter vs. Phoenix vs. XP Camper vs. Earthroamer because of the fact that they weren't available in the US, but now that they are, I'd like to give it a shot. Here's my initial take, who has more feedback?

(BTW I also did an in-depth eval of XP Camper vs. Sportsmobile over here -- the XP won for us)

Pro's of the XP Camper:
- Costs $100k all-in ($75k-ish for the camper and flatbed and $25k-ish for a used Dodge 2500 or 3500 4x4), which is less than half of the Earthcruiser
- Camper can be removed from the truck, so the truck can be used as a daily driver

Pros of the Earthcruiser:
- Has a pass-through

What else? I really don't know the Earthcruiser all that well. Does it have a larger interior space? More water capacity? More storage capacity?
 

Iain_U1250

Explorer
Being an owner/builder myself, I can concur that most people really have no clue how much it costs, or how long it takes to build a vehicle of this type. Personally, I have already spent hundreds of hours working on my truck. I do not add up receipts any longer either (if truth be told, I haven't for a long time now), as it is a little depressing. The cost of all of those "little items" adds us really quick. As a simple example, I have spent over $1500 in nuts and bolts!
In a one off, owner build things are inevitably more expensive. You are normally buying one of this and a couple of those. Companies are not going to give any significant discount for small quantities of goods, and what's worse, most owner/builders have to pay retail prices for these parts, unlike a business that would get the same parts at wholesale prices.

Yes, vehicles like the Global Warrior and Earthcruiser have what seems to be a hefty price tag, but if I were still working I fully expect that I would have paid that price, opposed to building my own vehicle.
As a Fitter, I am very aware that sometimes the cost of building things far outweighs the cost of buying something that is already made. In my opinion, expedition campers fall into that category if you add everything up.

I likewise have spent almost five years building my Unimog, and whilst I am not quite up at the same price as a finished ATW or Earthcruiser, the costs sure add up. I decide to set up accounts with wholesalers right in the beginning to get decent prices for things - well at least not full retail. It has saved thousands, discounts varying from 10% of 70% off retail. I used to sell various thing to other builders as well, but no longer have the time to do so and have given away the spares business to a friend. If you take into account the many thousands of hours I have spent, then the ATW or Earthcruiser is comparable in price. In hindsight, I would probably still go the way I have again, but will do it a whole lot smarter if I ever decided to build another camper again.
 

Howard70

Adventurer

Flys Lo

Adventurer
I'd love to get more of a comparison going between an Earthcruiser and an XP Camper.

My wife and I didn't really consider an Earthcruiser in our evaluation of Sportsmobile vs. FWC vs. Hallmark vs. Outfitter vs. Phoenix vs. XP Camper vs. Earthroamer because of the fact that they weren't available in the US, but now that they are, I'd like to give it a shot. Here's my initial take, who has more feedback?

(BTW I also did an in-depth eval of XP Camper vs. Sportsmobile over here -- the XP won for us)

Pro's of the XP Camper:
- Costs $100k all-in ($75k-ish for the camper and flatbed and $25k-ish for a used Dodge 2500 or 3500 4x4), which is less than half of the Earthcruiser
- Camper can be removed from the truck, so the truck can be used as a daily driver

Pros of the Earthcruiser:
- Has a pass-through

What else? I really don't know the Earthcruiser all that well. Does it have a larger interior space? More water capacity? More storage capacity?
For many, the cabover base vehicle is a big plus (ease of maintenance, visibility, compactness)
 

gait

Explorer
just thinking about it .... hope I don't offend anyone ..... a diy project measured in years would probably be as over priced for me as an off the shelf .... the only way it makes sense to me is to plan and build using some basic project management and budget disciplines. Sorry, I spent a lot of time with IT and Engineering projects, the hands on skills are secondary.
 

TeCKis300

Observer
It's been touched on a few times in this thread. But a good camper is not just the sum of its parts. Furthermore, a great camper is one that has been designed holistically from the ground up. And iterated on after many tests and trials.

Things that are just not inherent in a one off, let alone one that is designed by a layman. These qualities are incredibly cost prohibitive to design in, compared to ATW or Earthcruiser that have amortized these costs over many builds/iterations.
 

haven

Expedition Leader
You'll find the same argument in ocean-going saliboat forums. You can spend hundreds of thousands for a professionally built, fully equipped unit, or build one yourself for a small fraction of that amount, if you have the skills and several years to spend on the task.

I knew a fellow that built a 45 foot sailboat hull in a barn using reinforced concrete. It was a bear to wrestle the hull onto a wide-load trailer, and transfer it to the Hudson River. He spent the next couple of years living on the boat, finishing the outfitting. Eventually he sailed to the Caribbean.
 

Jfet

Adventurer
It's been touched on a few times in this thread. But a good camper is not just the sum of its parts. Furthermore, a great camper is one that has been designed holistically from the ground up. And iterated on after many tests and trials.

Things that are just not inherent in a one off, let alone one that is designed by a layman. These qualities are incredibly cost prohibitive to design in, compared to ATW or Earthcruiser that have amortized these costs over many builds/iterations.
On the flipside there is an opportunity to do things that you just can't get in a mass produced design. I wanted to be able to walk around without hitting my head (6'8") and few if any campers had enough headroom. We designed in 8' of headroom which really makes the inside of the camper feel airy.
 
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