GCT injects race car technology into carbon fiber "super luxury" camper
By C.C. Weiss
April 21, 2014
In today's world, we're surprised to see a high-end supercar that doesn't include a bunch of carbon fiber in its design. Despite prices that can be just as high-end, the material is far less common in the camper/RV market. A few designs we've covered, like the XPCamper, have carbon fiber on their spec sheets, but it's not something you run into all over the place. In introducing a big, glossy black-carbon bus trailer that it calls the "world's first all-carbon fiber RV," Global Caravan Technologies brings a heap of carbon fiber to the market all at once.
GCT follows in the footsteps of the motor sport, automotive and aerospace industries, applying carbon fiber monocoque construction to the CR-1 Carbon camper. In fact, it's reached out for help from some of those folks, partnering up with IndyCar manufacturer Dallara and aerospace technicians.
"For Dallara, helping GCT to design RVs applies our strengths in composites, testing, and vehicle dynamics, learned from decades of experience in racing car competition," Dallara USA CEO Stefano DePonti commented when the partnership was announced last September.
It's not hard to see how carbon fiber, prized by those other industries for its combination of strength and light weight, is a natural fit for a big shelter that's being towed over hundreds and thousands of miles by an already gas-guzzling truck or SUV. The CR-1 uses a bonded monocoque structure without any screws or fasteners. GCT says that the CR-1 will be stronger, less susceptible to moisture problems and longer lasting than other campers as a result.
GCT doesn't list an exact weight, but it has said that the CR-1 weighs about half what a more traditional competitor would weigh. It estimates that the weight reduction, along with a low center of gravity, low drag and other aerodynamic advantages, will help in improving tow fuel economy by up to 150 percent. Those are some big claims, so we'll see if they stand when GCT gets around to listing more specific weight and efficiency figures.
Unlike a supercar, which complements its lightweight carbon fiber chassis and body with a focused, spartan interior, the CR-1 showers its occupants in roomy luxury. The initial interior layout includes a rear entertainment lounge with seating for eight, a kitchen with designer Kohler faucet, a bathroom suite and a master bedroom. It sleeps up six and has an interior height of 6-feet 10-in/2 m (exterior height: 9-feet 10-in/3 m).
Some of the interior walls are left bare to showcase the carbon fiber, but there's also leather on the ceiling and other wall areas. Modular interior tables planted on mobile pedestals can quickly be adapted to dining, entertainment, work and outdoor uses. The bath suite connecting the kitchen and master bedroom includes a private latrine and 36-in shower. Buyers can opt for equipment like a washer-dryer stack, 700 W solar system with AGM batteries and smart control system.
"With phone or laptop and any operating system, you can access and control nearly every feature on the CR-1 Carbon," says Hoefer.
The 35-foot (10.7-ft) length and luxury-focused interior seem to cut into the CR-1's claims of lightness and fuel economy, but we guess this isn't being designed for those that want an ultralight, canvas pop-up to tow with a small crossover. It's really more of a flashy alternative to other huge, amenity filled campers and RVs, with the carbon fiber there to give it some buzz and claims of light, green design.
GCT unveiled the CR-1 at a private gala in Indiana last month, revealing the first interior configuration a few weeks later. The model is the first of a planned line that will include other fifth-wheel campers and travel trailers. GCT said in September that prices for those products will start around US$160,000 and rise north of $500,000. It doesn't mention a specific production timeline, but it does say that it plans to market its products in North America, China, Europe and Australia.