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DriVer 12-02-2008 06:50 PM

The Louisville RVIA Show today showed some signs of life for the RV Industry and the direction in which the chassis builders and the OEM are making their boxes.

One of the most innovative chassis that I saw today was a diesel electric hybrid called an ecoFRED.

The ecoFRED is powered by a 300HP ISB engine. It is based on an established commercial chassis vehicle which that have had on the road in production. The powertrain has been in use for nearly a decade according to Freightliner Custom Chassis Company.

The electric motor is driven by lithium-ion batteries. An automatic intelligent system switch from one or the other to both power systems if required. The batteries are in a state of constant charge by the diesel engine and regenerative braking is obtained not from the brakes but from the driveshaft.
ecoFRED Hybrid Powertrain

The ISB provides 300HP and 620 lbs/ft of torque. FCCC states that travel is not limited by unique fuel requirements. the ecoFRED features a 6 speed auto/manual Fuller transmission. The transmission is a standard gear type setup but it shift the gears automatically. the ecoFRED has a 27,000 lb GVW and a 37,000 lb GCWR.

According to the OE that is using the ecoFRED it certainly has made important strides in diesel electric drive.
Hybrid Inverter Front and Lithium Battery Pack Rear.


Winnebago Industries is showing an Adventurer based Hybrid concept vehicle Model 35Z. The 35Z has an auxiliary power generation unit called a APG which provide 5KW of pure 120volt sinewave power to the coach by drawing on the Lithium-Ion batteries. This unit therefore has no stand alone generator. The APG is essentially as WGO describes it is a large inverter that uses the hybrid batteries. The ISB can provides the motive force to recharge the batteries when depleted. The only downside here is that the hybrid batteries at this time can not be recharged when you are plugged into pedestal power in a campground.
Adventurer Model 35Z ecoFRED Hybrid

Regenerative braking is also used to recharge the LI/ion batteries. Designed to maximize efficiency, this hybrid technology even utilizes regenerative braking to charge the on-board batteries. regenerative braking means that the HEV electric motor uses electricity to create torque, while also being able to reverse the process to use torque to create electricity. By reversing the electric engine to become a generator, electricity is fed back into the battery resulting in energy savings.


The Itasca Sunstar - Front engine diesel is going to be available in summer of 2009 at a dealership near you. the Sunstar 32K features a 20,500 GVW front engine diesel mounted on the new Workhorse W20D. The motive power is obtained from the International Navistar MaxxForce7 diesel engine. The motorhome exhibits excellent fuel economy in a fully featured and fully capable class A motorhome at a terrific price. The coach built on the W20D features a 5,000 tow rating and a GCWR of 26,000 pounds. Exciting about this rig is that it can sleep up to 6 persons comfortably. This vehicle will begin production shortly and will be available by summer of 2009.
Itasca Sunstar Prototype Using the W20D Chassis Powered By MaxxForce7


Winnebago Industries announced a new class of vehicle based on the Sprinter chassis in a Class A configuration called a VIA. The VIA is an 11,030 lb GVW chassis called a model 25T. The VIA will have a 4,000 pound tow rating. The VIA features a slideout and has all the amenities that one could possibly want on this type of vehicle. The end game regarding the VIA is small, lightweight, economical, maneuverable and fully featured which can comfortably accommodate up to 4 people.
2009 Winnebago VIA


New for 2009 is the Winnebago View and Itasca Navion which will now feature a full wall slideout in the 24A floorplan. Based on the sprinter chassis the vehicle is designed to provide excellent fuel economy. The new View and Navion are now bigger than ever inside and if looks are deceiving from inside this rig this is one floor plan that will fool you.
Itasca Navion 24A FWS


the 2009 Sunova 37L provides what Winnebago calls 3 zone living. The main feature in this floorplan is a totally separate and door closeable living room in the front of the RV. The 37L has a mid-ship galley with either a dinette of free standing tables and chairs. The 37L features a full wall slideout on the curb side of the vehicle and accommodates the dinette and the head of the king size bed, TV and storage closets. The 37L has a dual entry bathroom enclosure on the street side of the rig.
2009 Sunova Living Area


New for Destination in 2009 is the full wall slideout Model 39N. Built on the FCCC XC chassis this floorplan has a 37 inch LCD TV mounted practically in the middle of the coach on the bathroom wall. The 39N has 2 additional LCD TVs with one being in the forward upper cabinets and the other in the bedroom. The 39N is a big favorite with this reporter. Very spacious interior with plenty of storage and available bunk beds. The bunk beds are convertible. When not in use they are folded flat up against the wall and the space can be used as a closet. Both bunk beds feature fold up LCD mini TVs. The 39N can sleep 6 people comfortably.
Winnebago Industries, Mr. Bob Olson and the new Sunstar W20D

I had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Bob Olson the new president for Winnebago Industries and his vision for Winnebago is clear. Winnebago plans on continuing to innovate and develop new products even in the face of the current economic challenges that are being experienced. Mr. Olson said that Winnebago will be poised well to respond with an excellent mix of new products and technologies that are being shown here in Louisville.

John_Canfield 12-03-2008 03:03 AM

Mike - great report - thanks for the sneak-peek.

I'm delighted to see Winnie continue product development. They will be well positioned to take off when the economy turns around.

FrontRangeRVer 12-03-2008 03:30 AM

Mike...thanks SO much for the pictures!

I'm also thrilled that Winnebago is leading the way with new inovative products during this recession. They can re-tool their lines very fast, when other manufacturers are still doling out the same old thing. I love the picture of Bob Olsen standing next to the new Sunstar!

Keep 'em coming Mike!!!!

DriVer 12-03-2008 07:27 AM

I've been walking around the expo this morning and this place in indeed huge. Walking from one wing to another and back seems like a mile. Doing my best to bring you guys all that I can. I do need a tripod because I must shake a little cause my pics are a little fuzzy sometimes.

The show is huge the attendance in anyone's estimation is low. Perhaps that's only their take on it but it seems to be a consistant theme.

becks 12-03-2008 10:00 AM

Thanks for the info. Gotta give Winnebago credit. They continue to move forward even in trying times. It will surely pay them big dividends down the road

Rocket Heart 12-03-2008 11:25 AM

Many thanks to all of you contributing info from the show. It is refreshing to hear some good news about where the leading manufacturers see the industry going. My only hope is that there are still enough people with jobs to keep things going.

MaverickBBD 12-03-2008 03:16 PM

Wow great report and thanks for the sneak preview. Glad to see Winnie is taking the lead again and not in D.C. asking to loans.

Fancy rigs, but what do they have in the way of lightening protection and non slip leveler jacks?

DriVer 12-03-2008 06:18 PM


Originally posted by MaverickBBD:
Fancy rigs, but what do they have in the way of lightening protection and non slip leveler jacks?
You got that right! It just hit me like a ton of bricks. Thanks for remembering us.

We do need more lightning protection!

Non-slip jacks ... essential that they have at least golf shoe cleats.

Ding-a-ling 12-04-2008 03:19 AM


Originally posted by DriVer:
It just hit me like a ton of bricks.
Or .... "Like a bolt out of the Blue."

DriVer 12-05-2008 03:34 PM

Added Sunstar rear Quarter and VIA from 2nd photo shoot.

mygrayhound 12-05-2008 06:03 PM

Really neat info -thanks DriVer. Now I guess I'll go to the next RV show whether I'm buying or not! I've been wondering who would be first-glad it was Winnebago.
Did they say how much (HP & torque) the electric motor will add to the base 300 ISB? If they can both be run at the same time, as indicated, I'd think these would have amazing performance.

'05 Suncruiser 37b W24

DriVer 12-06-2008 07:22 AM


Originally posted by mygrayhound:
Did they say how much (HP & torque) the electric motor will add to the base 300 ISB?
No they didn't and believe me I asked. What I do know is that it's a 45 KW motor. Using a converter I see where the electric motor yields 60.35HP.

In cruise at speed on a level Interstate it would be remarkable if you needed more than 60HP to keep the whole thing moving down the road.

The Cummins diesel always runs by the way so the ISB and the Eaton electric motor are always talking to one another and arbitrating who's going to do 'watt!'

W8RLM 12-06-2008 07:12 PM

Thanks for the information. I agree that its great to see inovation from Winnebago. I talked to Bob Olson at GNR. He is impressive.

I have a suggestion that I've never seen in any motorhome. We can control most everything in the coach from the driver's seat - except the heating and air conditioning. We can start and stop the generator, but someone must walk back to the thermostat to control the system. The technology to multiplex the thermostat controls from their current positon to the front of the coach is not very hard. This could be a unique option for Winnebago. Any comments?

W8RL - Bob

Izzyblueye 12-07-2008 02:25 AM

DRIVER; Clever last sentence, witty to be sure. BOB: Very good idea. I am always needing to reach my "one control thermostat" while under way, I use my house air on the road.

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