2019 Day 129 – This one, maybe?

After last night’s battery drama in the wee hours, were both a little traumatised this morning. There’s still a great deal of clean up to be done and the damage to the carpet’s doing my head in. Nasty stuff battery acid – it’s eaten through what Himself was wearing last night. Rather partial to cotton it seems. He can be heard muttering “I didn’t know they could explode”, a huge admission from a man who knows everything 😉.

I’ve come to appreciate that we were incredibly lucky that it exploded when we were “at home” as opposed to in storage, or when we were out. If we’d started driving without knowing, it could have been much worse. Who only knows what might have happened if it sat there for months in between visits. Also luckily, we happen to be enroute to view motorhomes: they should have a service centre there where we been buy new leisure batteries.

We’re soon at the showroom and after a final “better safe than sorry” clean up and a considerable smack to the wallet, we’re the proud owners of two new, hopefully unlikely to explode, batteries. Himself installs them, I begin the painful task to trying to minimise the damage to the carpet. We both want to draw a very firm line under this chapter.

Task complete, it’s on to the reason for our trek north. You’ll need a little background first, as to why we’re here: Europe and the UK have a wide variety of motorhomes to chose from, but the Australian market is tiny. Tiny! There is in fact, no local automated manufacturer. Australian made motorhomes are built on order. They’re good, but they’re pricey as there’s no economy of scale. A couple of American and European brands export to Australia, but again, they’re special builds as our compliance requirements are different to their local markets. Add to mix that Australia and the UK drives on the left, while the rest of the world drives sensibly on the right. So, in an ideal world, we’d buy a motorhome (for Australia) that’s European or UK built to drive on the right, with compliance aligned to Australia as close as possible to avoid extensive conversion costs.

The only thing that remains to be debated then, is whether the cost saving of buying in Europe/UK + shipping + landing costs exceeds the inflated cost to buy in Australia. And whether it exceeds it by a sufficient amount to go through the potential pitfalls of the excercise. Warranty also needs to be considered.

Luckily, Himself is a dilgent researcher – he’s deemed that Auto Trail might fit all these requirements. It’s a UK build, taking care of driving on the left issue, has an export market to Australia, so therefore potentially compliant and allegedly makes models that might suit us in the new range.

There are three possible 2020 models. The first is an immediate no – wrong configuration. The second is better, but there’s insufficient storage and I’m not overly fond of the bedroom configuration. The third’s however, quite possibly the charm: the 9 metre behemoth.

All the items on our checklist are sufficiently addressed and whilst it seems very foreign having become accustomed to our Rapido, we could see it working.

Himself makes himself right at home!

There are few things to consider still: if it’s a model that’s exported to Australia, a seatbelt compliance issue, warranty too. It seems unlikely that the UK build warranty would be honoured in Australia, but I’d like to hear that directly from the manufacturer, rather than a reseller.

At least it’s given us a firm idea of a model that works. The options we’ve seen in Australia to date are either affordable, but completely unsuitable and poor for the price, or fabulous but cost the better part of $400,000. Why, given our increasing grey nomad traveling market and endless opportunities for local travel, the Australian market hasn’t been penetrated by the international manufacturers, is beyond me. It’s a business opportunity going begging.

With a good deal to think about, we turn to make the trek back. Conditions are very average, with heavy rain and high winds. I’ll, along with the rest of the world I suspect, will be very glad to see the back of Hurricane Lorenzo.