Enterprising expats and Willow RV co-founders Eddie Wills and Ian Jow understand your average Aussie overlander. Although racking up at least a decade of experience in local RV manufacture each, the two bring outsider perspectives, initially establishing their careers in South Africa and the UK respectively.
Eddie says Aussies travel greater distances compared to South African campers who stay at one destination for three weeks at a time, predominantly dining outdoors. But in Australia, cold snaps factor into our climatic extremes driving campers indoors.
“Australians [comparably] spend a lot of time in their caravans. Our interiors need to be as tough as our exteriors,” Eddie explains.
Sharp observations like these have helped shape the burgeoning Willow RV range, which currently includes four and six-berth camper trailers in the Acacia line, Conifer 500 series single-axle vans, to the 22ft luxury long-term full-height tourers including slide-out options in the Conifer 600 series range.
Central to the design of all Willow RVs is a 29mm-thick ‘Insultuff’ monocoque body and galvanised steel chassis. Adopted by only a few in the industry, this latest construction method used by Willow RV calls for specific machinery to form an interlocking body that can help support its own load. As with the rest of the van, the chassis and running gear are locally manufactured and optimised for local Australian conditions, with an Adventure Pack offering a 6in steel chassis and Outback suspension.
Eddie says the Willow RV range is modelled on a computer in Solid Edge, where 3D models are first assessed for ergonomics, stress points, and usability before progressing to a prototype build from the company’s manufacturing plant in Pakenham, Vic.
The models are then fleshed out using a modular system that presents buyers with an extensive range of living options, such as appliance choices, bedroom configurations, ensuite setups and varying choices in lounge seating options.
Ian’s first exposure to the Australian RV industry was to set-up a motorhome production facility for a local manufacturer in 2000. Surprised by the construction methods adopted, Ian set about modernising the local RV scene using his vast industry knowledge, which he continues to do so with Willow RV today.
“Motorhomes are considered luxury items and having full insulation is important to this market, so we brought the ‘Insultuff’ into our caravan range” says Ian.
The use of lightweight poplar ply and composite cabinetry throughout is another luxury appointment adopted by Willow RV that provides a sense of contemporary home luxury without harming the scales.
Continuing to keep a finger on the pulse, Ian and Eddie travel the world visiting RV conversions such as Düsseldorf Caravan Salon for the latest trends in manufacturing, design and ergonomics. While closer to home, the pair travels in RVs and spends time learning how travellers use their vans. And having listened to customers, their ideas and feedback for many years, combined with Ian and Eddie’s passion have shaped the Willow product as we see it today.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #574. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!