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Old 04-20-2013, 11:23 PM   #1
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Sunline T-2499 - why isn't anyone copying the design?

I'm wondering why no other manufacturer is making a knockoff of the T-2499 floorplan? The T-2499 and other sunline trailer models have a loyal following even now years after production ceased. Our trailer is getting old and I don't see anything even close to comparable out there. Am I the only one who feels that way?

I see so little real innovation in the 20-26 feet trailer market and what I do see is headed the wrong direction with big heavy slide-outs. We're out west and lots of campgrounds can't hold those monster trailers that seem to dominate the RV industry at the moment. I love the smaller trailers but we are too tall to fit in the boxed in beds.
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Old 04-21-2013, 01:28 AM   #2
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Because there isn't money in it. It's a competitive industry that's all about squeezing every last penny from something people consider a luxury/non-necessity. Here's a business perspective from someone who has been on all sides, about 17 years worth:

The majority of the RV consumers' perspective:
- Bigger is better
- They can have (or demand) the same amenities in the camper that they have at home.
- I don't have statistics to back it, but I suspect the majority of consumers camp with more than two people, and under 25' is just plain cramped.
- The reason why they didn't go with the biggest one first is either the added cost, storage concerns, or tow vehicle limits.

RV manufacturers perspective:
- Bigger is better
- On that note, the manufacturer's goal is to make the largest trailer possible, as light as possible (to attract as many customers/tow vehicles as possible)
- Customers think larger campers have a higher price attached, so they can charge a higher price for larger ones, even if the added materials cost isn't much more (higher price per square foot).
- Conversely, customers assume/demand that the price for smaller trailers will be less, when they really have higher fixed costs. Less demand=less product to spread the design/engineering and special part costs over=higher cost added to that coach. Combine the higher manufacturing costs with customers who want to pay less=very little money made for the manufacturer and dealer.
- The demand for smaller trailers, under 25', is limited, as are the tow vehicle options. A floor plan like the 2499 is VERY tongue heavy, and ideally needs a 3/4 ton truck. Well, most consumers think they may as well go to a longer/heavier trailer if they have to get that truck.
- Of course, the cheaper they can buy components, the more money they can make. It becomes pretty obvious which manufacturers specialize in this and those who do believe in some quality. I'm not going to touch on this any farther though.

From the RV dealer's perspective:
- Bigger is better. Salesmen make their money based on a commission of the total sale. The smaller trailers that have smaller prices result in less commission for them. If they can get a customer to choose a 34' trailer over a 30' trailer, that means extra dollars in their pocket.
- The more amenities something has, like slides, appliances, etc., the more the dealer can make in service dollars down the road. That could include anything like winterizing charges in the beginning to sealing a roof down the road.
- The more space, features, and amenities a coach has, the more accessories someone will need. XL awning mat, lots of leveling blocks, heavy duty power tongue jack, extra heavy duty hitch equipment, all that stuff adds up that people need for the larger trailers.

From the campground owner's perspective:
- Bigger is BAD: the larger the unit, the more lights and stuff it has to use electricity, and since the campground owner generally doesn't bill the customer directly for electricity, it cuts into their profits.
- Bigger is also bad because it takes up more real estate. So the # of paying customers per square foot of the campground has to be less because they can't have as many sites. It's a fine line between having sites that are large enough to make customers comfortable yet small enough to still be efficient.
- The RV industry is trying to push the bigger is better mentality on campground owners.
- You know those big million dollar bus conversions, you know the ones with the electronic/air operated doors and furniture inside? Yeah, campground owners lose their a$$ on those. Most don't have propane on board and rely on things to use electric or diesel. If that site were individually metered, which I know of a park that is and this happened, the electric bill would be about three times higher than say a 35' fifth wheel with more typical amenities inside. The good news is, since many people think these big buses are just so great and impressive, campground owners take the opportunity to photograph them in their park for marketing purposes, like on their website. I guess that helps justify the expensive cost to have them in there.

I don't believe in the bigger is better mentality. If it works for you, great, if not, oh well.

However, people need to not complain when a new <25' trailer is $25k or $30k.

The Sunline Que is a perfect example of this. Lots of high tech stuff in it, great features, and very ahead of its time. I wish they implemented the features into the other trailers, even though they may have if given time. But, at the end of the day, it was a 17' trailer with a $25k MSRP that very few people were willing to pay for. I doubt they made much money on them between the special tooling, extensive design, and inventory of specialized parts that didn't carry over with other models. When dealers started buying up the leftovers and selling them for invoice pricing at about $15k or $16k, they sold out quickly because that was about what people were willing to pay for it. The ones that held at MSRP (I knew of one in Indiana) took a long time to finally clear the inventory, which they may have finally caved and sold it for less.

[/rant]
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Old 04-21-2013, 02:40 AM   #3
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About four years ago Surveyor did a 2499 knockoff and we looked at it. UGH! It was very cheaply done compared to the Sunline and overall just not attractive. I believe the price was around 25K. All it took was walking in the door to convince us it was not worth having.

Sunline Fan did a great explanation from all perspectives. There are times when we seem to be the smallest camper in the park and our overall length is 29 feet.

The same situation occurs with boats. One sailing magazine we get had a headline stating "Fifty is the new forty" meaning that 50 foot boats are the normal size. Not in my lifetime, it isn't. So marinas are putting in slips for these giant boats that use more electicity in a week than my house does in a month.

Since we have been sailors for 35 years, we can remember when 25 foot boats were considered perfect for the family and 30 foot boats were luxuries. Seems to be the same situation for campers in many areas.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:54 AM   #4
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Being in CA I'm sure you're familiar with the Nash and Arctic Fox. They are high quality trailers, and they make a 22' Nash with the big back window. But it's not a Sunline 2499 which IMO is a far better layout. The 2363 is a fabulous plan too, and I've never seen that one in another brand. We see more and more huge trailers on the road. My other complaint is the lack of front windows. If the bathroom is in the rear, this makes for a really closed in feeling. Salesmen will tell you that front windows leak...balony. We had Sunlines with a front window from 1991-2012 and never had a leak. IMO it's all about the bottom line. Sunline was MASTER of the floorplan!
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:54 AM   #5
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I researched on the web for months before buying our "sunny". We drove all the way from CA to PA to pick up our new baby and we've never seen another "sunny" over 30,000 miles and 7 years of camping. We camp almost exclusively in National Park and Forest campgrounds. Even a T-2363 or a T-2499 is a tight fit in those places and most won't even allow more than 26' length because you can't make the turns. The few occasions we stop at full service campgrounds and hook up we feel like we're among the giants. The giants are amazing, but I'd sure miss my quiet national park. The paid RV parks are higher density than our CA neighborhood and we want our son to know the wild places.

Every year I go to the RV show and get frustrated by the lack of quality and lack of innovation. So much of the same and every manufacturer is SURE all 26' and less trailer owners want to sit all evening at a little dinette interlocking knees (ha).
Sunline Fan obviously knows what he's talking about. If something happens to "sunny" I guess it's back to tenting for us.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweety View Post
Sunline was MASTER of the floorplan!
That's a fact... Looking back at the older brochures the amount of unique floor plans is amazing.

And yes, we are partial to the T2499 layout. I guess we are just rear living area campers

I myself have not seen the exact layout, some have come close in the rear living layout, for sure not in the same quality.

Was hoping by now someone would of picked up the rights to the business. Still hoping...
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:46 PM   #7
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SUN #691
shelly66
With all the loyal Sunline fans you'd think somebody would have picked up the rights to at least the T2499 and the other most popular models. They are tried and true and have a built in fan base. When I go to the shows and listen to the other shoppers the rear living area is very popular. Hang in there little "sunny" maybe someday a miracle will occur....
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Old 04-21-2013, 10:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelly66 View Post
With all the loyal Sunline fans you'd think somebody would have picked up the rights to at least the T2499 and the other most popular models. They are tried and true and have a built in fan base. When I go to the shows and listen to the other shoppers the rear living area is very popular. Hang in there little "sunny" maybe someday a miracle will occur....
Someone probably would have, but when they were wanting about a million dollars for all the intangible assets to the company (since everything else property wise had been auctioned), it just wasn't worth that to buyers who would then have to invest in building up all the physical assets too.

I've seen in some of the trade magazines that many manufacturers can take out floorplan loans for the R&D process. I assume that if they defaulted, the bank would own all rights and assets to that floorplan design. It's something that they pay off when they sell product, but it's a big expense initally. Yes, we may all love the Sunline floorplans, but any banks at that time (2007/200 simply looked at it as a folded company that they wouldn't want to take the risk on the product since it failed once before. So unless a company had the cash to buy these assets (which were offered as individual product lines too (Solaris, Que, Transport, etc.)), they didn't have a chance, and they probably held on to whatever cash they had around that time when manufacturers started failing. The one manufacturer I worked for had major layoffs in January '09, which was shortly after the Sunline intellectual property was for sale, so you know they were hurting before that.

Fortunately we are starting to see some growth in the industry again, as well as some new companies starting up.
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2007 T-286SR Cherry/Granola, #6236, original owner, current mileage: 9461.2 (as of 10/01/16)
1997 T-2653 Blue Denim, #5471
1979 12 1/2' MC, Beige & Avocado, #4639
Past Sunlines: '97 T-2653 #5089, '94 T-2251, '86 T-1550, '94 T-2363, '98 T-270SR
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