Following a rising level of interest in Australian designed and built campers in the US, the latest brand to commence testing of the much deeper waters of North America is the recently reborn Ultimate GT360.
Ultimate is fresh from a skin-of-the-teeth near extinction following the company going into voluntary receivership near the end of 2018. The brand was rescued at the last minute by the Eagle Outdoors Group, a large Melbourne-based conglomerate which manufactures the very successful Bluewater brand of campers, as well as Emu Campers, the Didgeridoonas line of oilskin products, the Cover It range of outdoor appliance and furniture covers, the Weatherall range of protective workwear, Panorama Swags, and Shipshape rooftop tents.
“Ultimate is our premium camper brand and has had numerous emails from the USA over the past five years asking ‘When are you coming?’ so in 2019 we went over and arranged a dealer in Portland, Oregon, and we are launching the brand there in early 2020,” explained Eagle Managing Director David Rodgers.
“These have been enquiries from people who have seen reviews or seen the product on the internet, and they don’t have that product or anything really like it there (in the USA) and they are saying we would like to see this over here.
“Ultimate campers are lightweight, aerodynamic and have the capability to go anywhere without compromising comfort and space. It is the ultimate glamping machine for the outback.
“Eagle and the Ultimate brand see the US market and its 327 million people as a great opportunity, especially as the Australian dollar has dropped to as cheap as it is at the moment.”
The Oregon dealer, Rodgers explained, is a direct retailer who currently sells high performance four-wheel-drive componentry at offroading shows. They see the Ultimate camper as an addition to their range for those who are highly involved in that world and who want to be able to travel into remote places in great comfort.
“We’ll be selling direct from Ultimate to the customers in the USA,” Rodgers continued. “The campers will be branded as Ultimate. There will be a specific model for the US market to comply with their requirements, such as fireproof canvas and power systems that are designed for 110 volts instead of 240 volts.”
The camper model on offer will be an Americanised version of the GT360, as revealed at REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year on the Gold Coast at the end of 2019, with different colouring and a few “Australian features” to background and underline the campers’ origins.
Rodgers explained that he believes many prospective American buyers are most interested in the camper’s compactness.
“A lot of the American market goes for super big RVs and big fifth wheelers and there are these guys from the Jeep clubs who are impressed with how much we squeeze into a small package while retaining that ‘glamping’ look, with comfort features such as heaters, air conditioning options, leather interior and so on.
“I think Ultimate is a brand that people look at and we think when they do they see Australia. I think it will be great for Australian pride to feel that we’re now in America, that that’s us. I just love seeing Australian stuff in America, whether it’s Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin, and I just want to help promote Australia overseas like that.”