Over the last 17 years, I have had the pleasure of helping thousands of people make their RV motorhome purchase. This unique perspective of assisting in the shopping process gave me the understanding of what is important to the retail customer. Things like value, performance, design and safety rule the day. Recently, there has been a new factor, fuel efficiency.
A decade ago, when a person would ask, “What is the gas mileage? The cute response was, “If you have to ask, you probably cannot afford it.” This response was a defense mechanism by the industry to deflect the perception that fuel consumption was going to drain the RVer of all their money or perhaps prevent a new RVer from entering into the market. This fear of fuel consumption and the cost associated with fuel has remained an important topic. Consequently, there is a fallacy that has been left unchecked and may be impacting the decision by first time buyers as well as the seasoned RVer. The fallacy, the Sprinter chassis with the Mercedes 3.0 diesel engine will save you money because the MPG’s is far better than the Ford Cut-a-way chassis with the V-10 gasoline engine.
The following comparison is meant to comprehensive, but I must admit, our company, Nexus RV (www.nexusrv.com), has made the decision to build exclusively on the Ford Chassis for several major reasons. Each of those reasons is based on what we believe to be right for the retail customer.
Here is that comparison:
In an effort to demonstrate the ROI (return on investment of buying a Sprinter Chassis instead of a Ford Chassis, you must first determine some variables that are agreeable. For this comparison let us accept the following variables:
Price per Gallon (AAA fuel chart October 13th, 2011)
Miles traveled per year by the RVer (industry estimate)
Cost to buy Sprinter Chassis with Mercedes Engine and diesel Generator Vs. Ford with gas Generator
Miles per Gallon (MPG)
Sprinter 13 mpg
Ford 9 mpg
Annual cost of fuel
Sprinter Chassis with 3.0 Mercedes diesel
5,000 miles traveled divided by 13 miles per gallon=384 gallons used x $3.79 per gallon =
$1,458 annual fuel expense
Ford Chassis with V-10 gas
5,000 miles traveled divided by 9 miles per gallon=555 gallons used x $3.42 per gallon=
$1,900 annual fuel expense
Result: You save $442 for every 5,000 miles you travel with the purchase of a Sprinter Chassis, but remember you paid $25,000 more for the same motorhome. It would take you 56 years to get a return on your investment!
The equation can be modified to handle all the variables such as fuel cost, distance traveled or amount paid for the Sprinter Chassis.
Bottom line: No matter how long you own your motorhome you will not be able to save money with on fuel by purchasing the Sprinter Chassis vs. the Ford Chassis.
Parts and Service
Ford Motor Company has been producing the Ford Cut-a-way chassis with slight modifications for over 30 years; the V-10 engine has been used in the configuration for over 15 years. This product is manufactured in Lorain, Ohio. Thus, the availability of parts for these products is plentiful and cost effective. Contrarily, the Sprinter Chassis with the 3.0l Mercedes Engine has only been in the states under its current configuration for less than 7 years. The import cost and shipping costs make the parts for the Sprinter expensive compared to the Ford. In addition, Ford Motor Company has been in existence for over 100 years with the largest and strongest service network in the RV industry. There is not even a close second. At Nexus, because we know the buyers are not going to be close to where they bought their unit, we rely heavily on Ford’s ability to keep our customer’s on the road. Sprinter does not have a service network that would compare to the Ford’s. In fact, there are a fraction of service centers that can or will service the Sprinter Chassis.
Result: Ford Service and Parts are far more effective and affordable than the Sprinter.
Product and Performance
Although the Sprinter has some neat features and many people like the feel of the cockpit while you are driving down the road, there are some vital features that Ford has over the Sprinter that are difficult to ignore.
Here are those important features:
Ford Feature Sprinter
14,500lbs. GVWR 11,030lbs.
305 H.P Horsepower 188 H.P.
55 Gallon Fuel Capacity 26.4 Gallon
LT225/75/16E Tires LT225/85R/16
420lbs Torque 325lbs.
It is understandable that many readers may believe there are many more features that both these chassis could tout in a sales presentation. They would be correct. We have taken the most important features to the overall performance of the motorhome and concluded that in spite of the limited short term gains in fuel efficiency, the Sprinter Chassis and Mercedes engine does not compare to the Ford in those key areas such as value, safety, service and Return on Investment (ROI).
Nexus RV is a factory Direct Dealer/Manufacturer that works diligently to save retail customers money by eliminating waste, give the customers a better buying experience and build the customers exactly what they want. Moreover, we go to great lengths to inform customers of our manufacturing philosophy as well as our unique perspective of being both the dealer and the manufacturer of RVs. It is with that spirit we hope to pass along information that may help in the buying decision of thousand of potential customers.