Are Earth Cruisers & Co. overpriced?

whatcharterboat

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
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.
Hi Jfet,

Regarding your comment about few if any production campers having enough headroom for a 6'8" guy......

You may not realise this but the production campers mentioned here have around 7' headroom!! I would think bed length would be a major concern for you though in any production camper. As an example, our mattress is only 6'10" (2050mm) long x 4'10" (1450mm) wide.

Regards john
 
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Jfet

Adventurer
Hi Jfet,

Regarding your comment about few if any production campers having enough headroom for a 6'8" guy......

You may not realise this but the production campers mentioned here have around 7' headroom!! I would think bed length would be a major concern for you though in any production camper. As an example, our mattress is only 6'10" (2050mm) long x 4'10" (1450mm) wide.

Regards john
Hi John,

I was thinking along the lines of most truck campers. I think the XPcamper only has 6'5" of headroom?
 

Iain_U1250

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.

No offense taken, LOL. The time taken depends a lot on whether you do it full time or part time, and whether you do it all yourself or get other people to build most of the parts and you just assemble it. I think I have spent way too much time planning, so much so that I often change my mind a few times before settling on what is right for me. For example, I have three 240V inverters, why, because I had one fail in the Land Rover and we realised how dependent we had become on it, so I have some redundancy, in fact every system on my truck is dual redundancy.

I've seen builds done in a few months, then the owners spends years getting it right, or finds they can't live with it and sell it for something bigger/smaller/better. I originally planned something simple, but after looking at some of the other builds, which, sorry to say, look like refrigerator vans, I decided to go with something a lot different, and what I knowingly went with something that was pretty complex in order for it to look "right". The interior of the camper has taken forever, and to be honest, getting the subcontractor I did was the worst mistake of the whole build, over budget, years behind schedule, but I really like the end result. I know I have gone over the top, but it will be my home for a few years and in the end, it is the luxury items that make things special, not the normal stuff. Things have taken a lot longer, and through personal problems where real life interferes I have not had as much time as I would like to.

I could have bought a second hand Unimog all kitted out from Europe for less money now, but when I started they were EUR 80K, which would be around $250K landed which I could not afford them. When I started, the AUD was only $0.60 to the USD, and unimogs were selling for $80-90K for rust buckets. Now they are a lot cheaper, and with the military ones on the market now, easy to get hold of. Cost wise I suppose it all depends on what you value your time at, I like to think my build is as good if not better than anything on the market.

In the years of research I have read about professional trucks breaking apart, that includes the Unicats, GXV etc. I like to think that mine is over-engineered as I can without adding weight. Time will tell if I am right, but at least I should be able to fix basically everything on the truck, and since I put it together, I made sure I can take it apart again. I should have started with a better truck, but now I have something that has had everything overhauled, whilst not a new truck, there is a lot of it that is new.

Back to the topic of whether the professional trucks are overpriced, not really, you get something that has been tested, and with a bit of research you should be able to find all the known faults with each brand, and decided whether you can live with them. In the end, a good quality well built truck will cost you a bit less if your do it yourself, providing your labour is for free, and If you build it yourself, then if something goes wrong, you only have yourself to blame. A cheap DIY build will fall apart just as quickly as a cheap professionally built truck, and probably be so heavy you are at max GVM or above when loaded up. Doing things right cost money, regardless whether you DIY or buy retail.
 

NMC_EXP

Explorer
When manufacturer builds something to be sold there are three issues: (1) manufacturing cost (2) selling price, and (3) value (or worth).

Cost and price are determined by the manufacturer and are not necessarily directly related.

Value (or worth) is determined by the buyer.

Ultimately, in a free market, any item is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it.
 

Overland Hadley

on a journey
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.
Mike has a good point.

Consider a restaurant. IIRC food costs should only be 20-25% the cost of the dish. (I do make myself 99% of the food I eat, as I only eat out a couple times a year, so I guess it makes sense that I made a fair amount of my camper as well.)
 

Bandicoot

Adventurer
Hi John, I've been "off the grid" in some of the more remote sections of Carnarvon NP (Mt Moffatt and Salvador Rosa) for the past couple of weeks so not checking the forum. We do have satellite internet (we use BGAN, I got the heads up from Scott Brady on this) which is just a terrific system (very fast to set up [literally a minute], portable and flexible) -- but expensive in terms of data rates, so checking all my forums has to wait till back in the bigger smoke with normal mobile phone internet.
At the risk of getting on my soap box, I agree entirely with your comments about the quality issue and the R&D for these vehicles. If you are really going "bush" or into other countries in these sorts of machines, you are very dependent on the quality of the gear and the pedigree of its design and build. Sure, with satellite phones and EPIRBs, your very life may not be in danger, but it can be hugely expensive and inconvenient, or even a show-stopper, if you have an important system failure. Whilst $250 k is a big expense, once you have the vehicle you tend to forget about (or at least not remember as often!) the original price tag (assuming you are getting good after-sales support) and really appreciate the reliability and ease of use.
And I also agree about the simplicity of the systems. After almost 5 years in our EC, my opinion is that less sophisticated and fewer systems will generally trump more sophistication and a greater range of systems. Also I prefer systems that are relatively independent of one another rather than all hooked up or integrated in some sophisticated manner; that way if one system fails, you still have the others, and fault-finding and repair (or replacement) of independent systems is usually much easier. At the end of the day, the critical systems in the "camper component" of these vehicles all relate to basic human health and wellbeing for extended travel:
• protection from the elements (wind/storms, rain, cold, heat, etc),
• comfortable sleep,
• toilet,
• shower,
• safe storage of food (including food needing refrigeration) and clothing and equipment,
• ability to cook inside if needed, and
• personal security.
If the camper manufacturer gets these systems so they are very easy to use, highly reliable, and very easy to maintain/repair/replace (when needed—which is inevitable), then that is a successful camper recipe. And that camper then needs to be matched to a robust, reliable carrier with a proven track record and as wide a dealer network as possible.
Personally I think that at least in Australia we are on the cusp of a new situation where the market for 4WD motorhomes will show substantial growth over the next 10 to 15 years. Baby boomers have tried the camper trailers, tents and caravans and found them all wanting. The concept of buying a $250 k machine does take some time to get people’s minds around but many approaching retirement now have the $ to do down this path if they put their mind to it. It will be interesting to see where it all ends up.
Rick
PS: sorry I didn’t see you in WA when I was talking to someone else. No doubt we all get swamped by "stalker talkers" (I say this tongue-in-cheek as I'm always happy to discuss campers with anyone).
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
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.
It's pretty simple to me... if supply exceeds demand then you are overpriced. This certainly doesn't seem to be the case in this market.

There are plenty of reasons to build your own (expedition) vehicle, but you have to understand what is important to you.

I like making things, own a garage, and view fixing things when they break as part of the adventure. While I know plenty of people that love building, testing, breaking, and fixing vehicles I also know that this is the minority.

I've just spent the day in a friends driveway 2500 miles from home diagnosing and repairing the air system in my truck and rebuilding a winch. It snowed all day. I had a great time. If this sounds like a fun day to you then you are candidate for a custom truck... if not then an Earth Cruiser (et al) may be a better direction for you.
 

RTL

New member
I have been searching for a while information about expedition campers, and "standard" RV's.
I still find a big gap between those two categories.

Let's look at these:
Fuso Canter 4x4/6.5t/3L, chassis price approx. 45k $ (33k €)
Earthcruiser (AUS), Pangea (USA) or Woelke Autark E3 (GER), price approx. 220k $ (160k €)
Therefore, a cabin price for 175k $

Mercedes Benz Sprinter 519CDI 4x4/5t/3L, chassis price approx. 55k $ (40k €)
Bimobil LBX365 (GER) price 172k $ (125k €)
Therefore, a cabin price for 117k $

Renault Master DCI, 3.5t/2.3L, chassis price approx. 23k $ (17k €)
XGO Dinamic 22P (ITA): 34k $ (25k €)
Carado (GER) on Renault/Fiat, starting from 41k$ (30k €)
Therefore, a cabin price for 11k $ , or more.

European prices are without VAT.
So, we have a cheap regular RV, made in Italy, sold in Germany, therefore not from China, south America or Africa, for only 11.000$ cabin, but almost all other 4x4 expedition campers have cabin prices starting with 100.000$
I know, the Italian products are not so rugged, but in that 11.000$ we have all included, furniture, appliances, etc, and the result looks nice: http://palmo.beepworld.de/xgo-dynamic-22p.htm

Still, cabins for expedition camper are not custom made, are low volume production, but still some kind of volume, I do not understand why the retail price is ten times more.
 

Howard70

Adventurer
We are investigating the Earth Cruiser now. Anyone actually have one that could provide feedback on their experience?
Hello Dentist4Kidz:

We're nearing 3,000 miles on ours - love it, would buy one again in a second, and would be happy to talk to you about it. Sending you a pm,

Howard
 

haven

Expedition Leader
"I do not understand why the retail price is ten times more."

Durability is one big reason. The equipment used in the camper of a vehicle designed to go off-road is, generally speaking, of higher quality and installed with rugged use in mind. Same for the materials used to build the camper body. The typical RV won't last long driving in primitive roads.

Consider the experience of the Silk Road Motorcaravan group, a club whose members took several long trips in the 2000s. they drove from Europe to China several times, in Russia and Mongolia, and in Central and South America. Read the group's experiences here: http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/

Some of the members drove standard RVs, while others drove semi-custom or totally home built camping vehicles. The more capable vehicles spent a lot of time pulling the standard vehicles out of the mud. (The Unimog did get stuck once, for the record.) The standard RVs suffered plenty of structural damage, too.

Read advice about choosing a vehicle from a Silk Road member here http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/equipment/choosevan.htm

Another reason is profit margin. A manufacturer that expects to sell 20,000 units annually can afford a smaller profit per unit.
 

stunt man hans

New member
we are looking to buy a new earth cruiser and travel the us in the little fuso based camper for a year. so full time while we search for a spot to build our new home. we are all but set on EC but i would love any and all input from current owners who have experience in these rigs for extended off the grid camping and extended trips in general. any issues or changes you would have made to the camper to make it perform better for serious off road travel and boon docking.

thanks hans
 

SkiFreak

Crazy Person
Firstly... welcome to the forum Hans. :)

I am not an Earthcruiser owner, but I can offer you my point of view on Fuso based expedition campers.
To be honest, you really need a good idea yourself of what you want and expect out of this type of vehicle and and know what type of terrain you wish to concur.
Armed with that information you can approach the company and have them add or remove options, so that the camper is specifically suited to your own needs. We are all different and place different priorities on things. Getting advice from other forum users is definitely helpful, there is no questioning that, but knowing what you want is probably even more important, especially if you plan on forking out the kind of money these vehicles cost.

Searching this forum you will see that some are happy with the current model FG and some are not. The lack of a low range in the current model means that in reality this is not a "true" off road vehicle. That does not meant it is not capable, but it does mean that it has some limitations.
Have you been inside an Earthcruiser? If you haven't, that is something you definitely need to do. You may love the layout, or you might not. Looking at photos is one thing, but "feeling" what it is like gives you a much better appreciation of the available space and how it is utilized.

Ask as many questions as you can think of, both here and from Earthcruiser. The more information you have the better.
 

stunt man hans

New member
i have been reading up on the lack of a low range gear on the newer canters which is not good news to be honest as we definitely want to go off road pretty far but, also within reason. i mean i'm not planning on doing anything insane just getting to the pretty places and away from other people. i agree we do need to see inside of one for certain but so far this camper suits our needs the best so we can't be too picky to be honest i'm new to all of this not the 4x4 part of the equation but the camper and the associated systems is all new to me.

i just want to make sure it is going to handle what we need and not find out once we are out that we need to be retrofitting things and adding stuff. its just me the wife and our small dog. size wise we should be fine storage water capacity are also some of the best i have seen as well as fuel storage and range. it all seems good until i was reading about some of the transmission problems and the general lack of enthusiasm about the low range being effectively nixed on these newer trucks.

the only other rigs that caught our eye was the global expedition vehicles pangea and turtle models. we are shopping at what our wallet will allow but it needs to meet our goals of getting out in the wild and being able to stay there for an extended period with obvious concessions on water and energy consumption.
 

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