Swiss Army knife-inspired Romotow puts a new spin on motorhomes

Swiss Army knife-inspired Romotow puts a new spin on motorhomes

romotow swivelling campervanChristchurch design consultancy W2 has designs on storming the growing motorhome industry with the Romotow, a patented campervan model it says offers up to 70 percent more floor area than traditional types.

How is that possible, you ask? The Romotow consists of two key pieces, where the outer frame swivels out to create a second living area.

W2 directors Stuart Winterbourn and Matt Wilkie have secured a New Zealand patent and are looking for a caravan manufacturer to work with on a prototype and eventual production (building their own factory would be cost-prohibitive).

They formed W2 in 2007 to offer both residential and commercial design services, and are hoping to bring the Romotow to market by 2015.

They're also lodging international licences around the world, focusing on Europe, the UK and North America as key export markets.

Pricing is yet to be decided, though Wilkie says the Romotow will likely cost 25-30 percent more than comparable regular models.

The Romotow will come in a range of sizes and fit-out variations include sliding doors, louvered windows, multiple berths, kitchenette, bathroom, and a rear mounted camera. 

Wilkie says the Romotow can be used to run a mobile cafe or other mobile business or even cater to horse owners who attend overnight equestrian events; that model would provide a ramp for the horses and a prep area for saddling up.

The W2 founders say National Caravan Council in the UK, the Caravan and Camping Association in Australia, the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association and others all confirm that the caravan, motorhome and camping industry is the fastest growing domestic tourism sector. 

“A friend of ours imports caravans from the UK and we got talking one day about the potential cost savings of a flat-packed caravan design that would be easy to manufacture, ship and use. We did some research and realised that caravans had taken a bit of a bad rap in previous years, and campervans were on the increase. One camping association had even blamed Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson for his frequent abuse of caravans," says Wilkie.

The idea for the Romotow occurred over a picnic, and is based on the structure of a Swiss army knife, sliding out to reveal the various implements.

"We then sketched a ‘mobile living’ unit that could be anything: a caravan, a mobile café, a home office, a weekend escape, or a new lifestyle of discovery and wonder for retirees - and from that moment the concept took on a life of its own.”

Winterbourn says the need for a compact, spacious and convenient mobile living area is also on the rise but there is no single universal design that can meet everyone’s needs.

"The Romotow can provide this flexibility. You can take it camping, or on a sales trip or road show, or enjoy your retirement exploring the country (or continent!), or extend your property with a mobile office come guest room."

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).