Outside Van, a custom RV manufacturer based in Portland, Oregon, is expanding its facility and will produce two new Type B motorhomes. The company is working with two area dealerships to make financing available for the vans for the first time.
The company broke ground for its new 130,000-square-foot facility late last year and opened its doors early this year. The facility is located to the south of Outside Van’s headquarters. Outside Van said the space will be used exclusively to manufacture the two new models: the Approach and the Syncline.
Rolling off the company’s production line first, the Approach is being built on a 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 170 AWD chassis. The model seats and sleeps four. The company expects to make about 100 Approach vans this year, Outside Van Brand Manager Caity Rock said.
The Syncline will be manufactured on a 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144 AWD chassis. It sleeps and seats two. According to Rock, the company expects to start producing the Syncline at the end of the year and make between 5-15 Synclines this year.
According to the company, the models will include practical necessities to meet consumers’ needs as well as “bits of flair.”
“We have never been a company to stay the same,” Outside Van CEO Susan Clemo said. “To do only what we are comfortable with.”
Channeling Years of Experience
Outside Van was founded in 2007. The company has built custom RVs from pop-tops to “elaborate layout designs for gear storage,” Rock said, and it is now funneling that experience into making two models.
In 2021, the company was bought by Fox Factory, a supplier of shock absorbers and suspension products for several industries. The company uses Fox Shocks on each van. The two companies often collaborate at marketing events such as tradeshows, Rock said.
Outside Van builds averages 100 custom van conversions per year and employs 75.
“Our beginnings were in tackling each custom build with its unique quirks and one-of-a-kind features,” Clemo said. “Our experience in the deep end of adventure van conversions has prepared us for the more traditional route of model production while maintaining our commitment to high-end quality.”
According to Outside Van Engineering Director Tim Wimmer, the company’s engineers considered designing the Approach and Syncline with the same elements, but they decided the approach would not reflect the company’s values. Each model will incorporate different features, he said, and be built for different customers.
The team chose to produce the Approach first because the most common chassis size on which the company builds is the Mercedes-Benz 170.
“We wanted to get the most approachable van to our community first,” Wimmer said. “As production of our first 144, the Syncline, ramps up we have already learned a lot, which will make for smoother sailing with this build.”
Offering New Financing Options
Outside Van is selling the vans through two dealerships. The first is Johnson RV, a dealership with locations in Oregon, California and Washington. The second is Mercedes-Benz of West Chester, an automotive dealership in Ohio.
The dealerships are pre-ordering vans as well as offering consumers financing options for the RVs.
“Both models are going through dealers that have financing, (and that) gives customers a chance to go at their own pace,” Rock said. “It is more of an approachable dream for people to get in and go.”
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