Kedron brought out its first triple-axle caravan about a year ago, an absolute giant of a van that ticks every definition of grandeur.
However, Kedron has now fitted that van with an Australian-first which has the potential to change big-rig caravanning considerably. Caravan World took the first look at this game-changing innovation.
Pulling out all the stops
"I guess we’ve gone both ways from the compact single axles with an emphasis on weight saving. Then into the medium style caravan as what we’ve always promoted. Then, we’ve had a bit of a call for that bigger style van," Kedron owner Glen Gall explained.
Gall said his family have always had an ‘innovation itch’ and their sense that there is a growing demand for large caravans got them thinking about manufacturing a larger rig.
The trouble with increased size comes a few interesting engineering problems around the ability of the caravan to manoeuvre well behind a vehicle with enough grunt to make the whole experience seem easy.
When it comes to enough mechanical prowess up front, that tends to be the sort of problem best left to manufacturers such as Dodge with its super gutsy RAM or similar.
However, torque and horsepower are only part of the equation that turn life with a large caravan from a potential endless headache as you struggle with it on the road, fight with it around corners or on uneven ground, into the very essence of holidaying delight.
The key is not the many luxuries this van offers, but the innovation that was a year in the making.
Twelve months ago, Kedron released this gob-smacking rig with the company’s new auto-levelling airbag suspension developed with support from the Airbag Man.
Back then, Kedron fitted disc brakes. Now, in what is probably a world-first in the caravanning industry, this luxury giant offroading caravan now boasts air brakes that meet the Australian Design Rules (ADR) which make them compulsory for a van of this size and weight.
ADR covers vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions. They are generally performance-based covering issues such as occupant protection, structures, lighting, noise, engine exhaust emissions, braking including rules that stipulate compliance with brake linings, couplings, air reservoirs and much more.
How it works
Anyone who has travelled Australia’s highways and byways have encountered the large trucks and long-distance buses that pull up beside us and let out the tell-tale shush of air brakes as these large rigs roll to a stop behind or beside your humble vehicle.
Air brakes use compressed air pressing on a piston to apply the pressure to the brake pad to stop the caravan.
The benefit is that air can be compressed while oil cannot, hence it cannot travel a long distance as required in the trucks and, arguably, across this triple axle rig efficiently. Simply, air brakes are more efficient and reliable. What’s more, air brakes also have a spring action design system which help control the van better downhill.
On the downside, the air brakes need more components including a compressor and other auxiliary components to function.
This adds to the cost and the weight of the vehicle. Remember, this van was fitted with airbag suspension so compressed air was already available.
A note of caution
There are two important considerations confronting manufacturers considering following Kedron's lead.
First, such is the work required to meet ADR requirements for the use of air brake systems on big rigs, mean many other manufacturers will likely sit back and watch before trying to match Kedron’s audacious new braking system. Gall said the development time was not the only obstacle to installing a compliant air brake system. Beyond the lengthy development time scale, Glen said the development cost for Kedron was significant.
Second, caravanners who choose the level of luxury offered by the Kedron Triple Axle caravan need to remember that heavy trailers require powerful braking systems that use mechanical leverage and air pressure to stop the van and, in doing so, generate heat. As with any braking system, if the heat becomes too great, the brakes become less effective.
It's important for owners to remember that while air brakes are the only option for caravans that weighs more than 4.5t, even with properly adjusted air brakes, they will not stop as quickly as a passenger car.
Above the axles
On a caravan that offers so many luxury extras, it’s hard to know where to start. Around the outside, a drop-down table is a little ho-hum. But in a true sense of excess, this van has four — two on each side.
What’s more, looking around the outside there’s also a bike rack, TV locker, outside shower complete with a soap dispenser, slide-out Dometic kitchen and a Kedron-designed front toolbox that includes a Webasto diesel heater and drawbar tap.
Up on the roof almost every square centimetre is used up within the vicinity of 1000W of solar power plus a padded solar awning over the front window.
Around the back, two spare wheels sit in a recess at the rear of the van and are accessed via an electronic lift system.
Ample external storage and airbag control unit is also accessible from the exterior. Underneath there are six freshwater tanks offering 480L of freshwater and one grey water tank.
On the inside of the Kedron van, there’s a large dinette upholstered in quality leather complete with in-built seat heaters and a foot-operated pedestal table that can convert to another bed.
Entertainment-wise, a Bose sound system and two TVs, one for the living space and a second for the bedroom, are the mainstays of a sophisticated system that’s sure to keep the most dedicated cinephile happy.
A solid door provides privacy between the living space and the main bedroom which features a custom-made bamboo mattress, full wraparound leather bedhead, blue LED-lit side recesses, 12V fans and plenty of storage including dual and full-height robes.
The power system for this van is stunning.
It will run the van's appliances including air-conditioning.
At its heart is a 900Ah lithium battery system made of 300A lithium power packs and supported by two 1800W inverters housed under the bed.
Kept safe in an overhead locker, the ‘brain’ of the system is a controller unit that cares for the power, water supply and hot water system.
Beyond that, Kedron has installed a mobile reception booster and repeater station to make communication reliable when you’re out of town.
The kitchen is a piece of luxury that’ll keep even the most fastidious gourmet happy thanks to plenty of bench space, twin sinks, a separate tap delivering instant chilled, filtered or boiling water, a pull-out dishwasher, a combination convection microwave plus a three-burner stove, wine chiller and large fridge / freezer drawer as well as a substantial compressor fridge / freezer.
The bottom line
This is a breathtakingly good-looking caravan that meets the quality promise that its substantial price tag certainly demands.
What’s more, it has a certain WOW factor and level of innovation that you’d expect
at this price point. It’s likely those with
the financial wherewithal to accommodate its hefty financial outlay are unlikely to be disappointed.
The key to this van is the market-leading ADR-approved brake system and a suspension package that sets a high caravanning bar.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 9.9m (32 ft 6in)
External body length 7.9m (26ft)
External body width 2.35m (7ft 8in)
Travel height 3.15m (10ft 4in)
Internal height 1.99m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 420kg
Cladding Aluminium interlocked wall frame
Chassis 200m x 50mm hot-dipped galvanised
Suspension Kedron stub axle with Kedron automatic levelling airbag suspension
Coupling AL-KO ring type
Brakes ADR-approved air brakes
Wheels Goodyear Duratrac with 16in Kedron Alloy
Water 5 x water tanks (2 x 100L, 3 x 60L)
Battery 600Ah lithium battery
Solar 6 x 180W, 2 x 80W, 1 x 60W
Air-conditioner Truma Adventa
Gas 2 x 9kg cylinders
Sway control N/A (uses air brakes)
Kitchen Slide-out kitchen
Cooking Thetford Topline Hybrid gas/induction hob
Fridge 250L Vitrifrigo
Bathroom Ceramic toilet
Washing machine Mini front loading
Hot water Truma Aqua instant hot water
Fisher and Paykel combi microwave; 6 x bottle under-bench wine fridge; Thetford Topline Hybrid gas/induction hob; Blanco surgical grade stainless steel double sink; Zip instant boiling and chilled water; Kenwood touch screen stereo; Bose soundbar
PRICE AS SHOWN
$225,000 plus options
Ph: (07) 3350 3333