Livin Lite RV debuts the 2016 Ford 8.6 and 6.8 with windshield front nose caps, automotive paint exteriors, stitched interiors, and more. Five additional Ford truck campers are coming in the Fall of 2015.
Eight months after announcing Livin Lite’s partnership with Ford Motor Company to develop a new line of truck campers, Scott Tuttle, President of Livin Lite, is ready to reveal the first finished Ford truck campers, the 2016 Ford 8.6 and 6.8.
Any doubt about the interest in a Ford truck camper was instantly extinguished when Truck Camper Magazine’s web server nearly caught fire from the tidal wave of people eagerly reading the late November announcement. Months before a single Ford truck camper had been built, it was clear that Ford Motor Company and Livin Lite had just changed the game.
Now comes the hard part, and the necessary questions.
Exactly what is a Ford truck camper? How was Ford Motor Company involved in the design and development process? What distinguishes the Ford truck campers from Livin Lite’s popular CampLite brand? And what’s this about wood in a Livin Lite product?
Once again we put on our reporter hats, and called Scott.
2016 Ford 8.6 Specifications
The 2016 Ford 8.6 is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper made for long bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Ford 8.6 is 8’7” and the interior height is 6’8”. The Ford 8.6 has a 30.5 gallon fresh tank, a 17 gallon grey tank, a 14 gallon black tank, and a 6 gallon hot water heater. It can accommodate one battery and has two twenty-pound propane tanks. Livin Lite is reporting the base weight of the Ford 8.6 to be 2,936 pounds. The MSRP for the 2016 Ford 8.6 is $26,500.
2016 Ford 6.8 Specifications
The 2016 Ford 6.8 is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper made for short bed trucks. The interior floor length of the 2016 Ford 6.8 is 6’7” and the interior height is 6’8”. The Ford 6.8 has a 13 gallon fresh tank, a 32 gallon combined grey/black tank, and a 6 gallon hot water heater. It can accommodate one battery and has one twenty-pound propane tank. Livin Lite is reporting the base weight of the Ford 6.8 to be 2,252 pounds. The MSRP for the 2016 Ford 6.8 is $22,000.
Above: The exterior of the Ford 8.6 – click to enlarge
TCM: Livin Lite announced the Ford Motor Company partnership just before Thanksgiving last year. Catch us up on the design and development of Ford truck campers since then.
Scott: Prior to designing the new Ford truck camper series, Ford Motor Company shared the electronic designs for the new aluminum-bodied 2016 Ford F150 with us so we could match some of the exterior design elements in the new truck camper, specifically the front fiberglass cap.
Above: The front fiberglass cap with the automotive windshield in silver
Ford has been involved since day one. We took our initial design up to Ford Motor Company in Detroit and met with Gordon Platto, Chief Designer for Ford Trucks. Gordon and his design team got involved and helped us create the look of the truck camper design. It was very exciting to have Gordon and his team provide that level of input from Ford.
Above: The front fiberglass cap with the automotive windshield in black
One of Gordon Platto’s contributions was the concept of an automotive-style windshield for the fiberglass nose cap. The nose cap and windshield design matched the angles, radiuses, and other design elements of the new F-150. It looks amazing in person and we are thrilled that the Ford design team was involved.
Above: The interior seats have the look and feel of the seats in the new F-150 – click to enlarge
For the interior, we matched the look and feel of the seats in the new F-150. The material, texture, colors, and stitching patterns are all very similar to the F-150 seats. The Ford camper seating looks and feels like the tan leather seating in a F-150 Lariat, but we are not using a true leather product in the camper.
Above: The “Built Ford Tough” logo on the back of the camper
TCM: Was there any additional input from Ford Motor Company?
Scott: Yes, they have been down to our facility multiple times. To our knowledge this is the largest product Ford Motor Company has ever licensed.
With their brand on this truck camper line, they’ve had a lot of interest in how it is designed and manufactured. All the way through the design and prototyping process, we have been required to check with the Ford team.
Ford was also quite involved with anything that incorporated their logo, specifically the camper seating and exterior graphics. There will be a “Built Ford Tough” logo on the back of the truck camper. Ford has left other decisions, including cabinet design and appliance choices, to Livin Lite.
Above: A final change requested by Ford was smooth glass frameless windows
TCM: How did it go when you revealed the finished camper to Gordon Platto and Ford Motor Company?
Scott: It went very, very well. In fact, they loved the truck campers. Gordon Platto and his team spent a lot of time with us, and he was all smiles and very pleased with how the font cap turned out, as well as the whole project.
Per Gordon’s request, we made some final changes to the camper. The most significant was to change the framed sidewall windows to smooth glass frameless windows. The frameless windows complement the beautiful frameless front windshield much better.
Above: For final approval, the seat cushion fabric was beefed up
Gordon also asked us to beef up the fabric on the seat cushions. There were a few other minor tweaks requested by Ford, but then we were approved and ready to launch.
TCM: For those who are reading about the Ford truck campers for the first time, what distinguishes the Ford campers from Livin Lite and CampLite models?
Scott: The Ford campers have the Livin Lite DNA; 100% all-aluminum framing and structure, and industry-leading use of Azdel and other light weight composites. The Ford line adds the fiberglass front nose cap, automotive-style windshield, fiberglass sidewalls, TPO rubber roof, and wood base cabinetry. The cabinetry structure is still 100% aluminum, but the fronts are wrapped wood stiles with the cabinet doors being made with solid hardwood.
Above: The interior of the Ford 8.6 – click to enlarge
Above: The interior of the Ford 8.6 – click to enlarge
Ford was attracted to us because of use of our 100% aluminum structure. The Ford truck campers look and feel like a luxury truck camper inside and out, but they feature Livin Lite’s 100% aluminum and composite frame and structure. That means they’ll be lighter, stronger, and essentially rot-proof – like all Livin Lite products – but more luxurious than any RV Livin Lite has ever built.
Above: The exterior of the Ford 6.8 – click to enlarge
TCM: What type of fiberglass are you using for the Ford camper sidewall lamination?
Scott: We are using Lamilux fiberglass for the sidewalls. We are also painting the Ford campers with the same body paint process used on the trucks. We are starting with five most popular 2016 Ford F-150 colors; Ingot Silver, Magnetic-Charcoal, Tuxedo Black, Blue Jeans, and Race Red. In the future, other Ford F-series colors will be available.
With the paint, we cover the entire front end, and then take the color up along the side wall and curve it up towards the camper’s roof. The paint will run the full length of the camper and, with the other Ford graphics, will provide a nice, flowing automotive-style graphics package.
Above: The Ford campers are being painted in Livin Lite’s paint shop – click to enlarge
TCM: Are you painting the campers in-house?
Scott: Yes! We have our own paint shop. We have been using it for our Chrysler/Jeep products. We have the Jeep colors and Ford colors in our paint shop.
TCM: Are the Ford campers being manufactured on a separate production line?
Scott: Anticipating growth from the Ford line, we have just moved into a new 276,000 square foot facility in Topeka, Indiana. For now, the Ford truck campers will be on the Livin Lite production line.
In the near future, we will be manufacturing Ford travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, in addition to seven Ford truck camper models. It’s too early to speculate if the Ford campers will have their own production line, or production lines, but that has not happened yet.
TCM: You explained that the front nose cap is fiberglass. Why not make the front nose from thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO)?
Scott: We chose fiberglass because of its strength, rigidity, and durability. Some RV manufacturers use TPO because it is lightweight and flexible, but it can crack when it freezes. Most of the RV industry today uses fiberglass front nose caps on their travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, not TPO.
TCM: Due to chronic leak issues and the request for improved insulation, the truck camper industry has moved away from front cabover windows over the past decade. With this in mind, why are you featuring a standard front window for the Ford truck campers?
Scott: Because we can do it right. We designed, developed, manufactured, sealed, and installed our windshield the same way Thor installs windshields in Class A motorhomes and high-end fifth wheels. We are extremely confident in its design and installation.
Above: The original design rendering of the Ford truck camper
TCM: Was the front nose cap designed with aerodynamics in mind, or it just for aesthetics?
Scott: It was designed for both aerodynamics and aesthetics. Gordon Platto was the first one to draw the windshield and he designed it with aerodynamic design cues from the F-150. The fiberglass nose cap also wraps around the front nose of the Ford camper; top, bottom, and sides. Aesthetically, it sets the new Ford camper apart from everything else on the market.
The front windshield also created an area inside the camper for a counter top in the cabover. There are built-in lights and outlets above the windshield, and the countertop sinks into the windshield area. The windshield glass is smoked and features a privacy shade. It’s really cool when you see it.
TCM: How is Livin Lite installing the windshield?
Scott: The windshield is installed with a rubber gasket and an automotive adhesive. The windshield goes around the fiberglass opening and accepts the glass. Over top of that we apply a silicone adhesive that sets the glass and keeps it moisture free. Again, we are using the same technique that’s used for Class A motorhome windshields. Stick your finger under a motorhome windshield and you can feel the silicone material. It’s soft, but durable.
The fiberglass front nose cap is screwed into the main side wall and roof structure with metal fasteners. It’s also screwed into the aluminum tubes with screws. There’s a butyl seal underneath, and an automotive seal over the nose cap edges. It’s a two-part seal. Screws go into the butyl with the automotive seal over top of that. Because of the automotive seal, you don’t see the screws.
Above: The beige leatherette on the seating and valences – click to enlarge
TCM: What interior fabric choices will be available for the Ford campers?
Scott: There is only one color, and one style of seating. We’re using a beige leatherette.
TCM: And the cabinetry?
Scott: The cabinetry in the Ford campers is a medium brown cherry. The wood color comes right out of a high-end fifth wheel from our Redwood Division. The doors are a real cherry hard wood. The cabinet styles are wrapped with true hard wood doors and panels. We are very excited about the look of the cabinetry, counter tops, and hardware in the Ford line.
Above: The solid surface kitchen counter in the Ford campers
TCM: The kitchen counter top looks like molded fiberglass.
Scott: It’s actually a solid surface material, similar to Corian. The solid surface counter tops are not nearly as light as the CampLite counter tops, but they have a much more luxurious look and feel.
TCM: What truck camper floor plans will be available initially as Ford campers?
Scott: The first two models are the 6.8 and the 8.6. The 6.8 and 8.6 are designed for the new Ford F-150. The others models are for the larger F-Series trucks; F-250, and F-350.
TCM: Are you going to build every CampLite floor plan as a Ford camper?
Scott: We are going to build most CampLite floor plans as a Ford truck camper including the 6.8, 8.5, 8.6, 8.4S, 9.6S, 10, and 11. There are seven total truck camper floor plans that will be Ford truck campers before the end of 2015.
TCM: Will all Ford campers be based on existing CampLite floor plans, or will Livin Lite design and manufacture floor plans exclusively for the Ford products?
Scott: For now, we are adapting the CampLite floor plans. In the future, it’s possible that we will design and build floor plans that are exclusive to the Ford line.
TCM: Have Ford dealerships signed up to be Ford camper dealerships yet?
Scott: While the vast majority of Ford truck camper dealers will be RV dealers, there are some Ford dealerships who also sell RVs, such as Bozeman Ford in Bozeman, Montana, Olathe Ford in Kansas City, and others.
I know some people are wondering if regular Ford dealerships will carry the Ford truck campers. The answer is probably not. It will be the Ford dealers who are also RV dealerships – like Bozeman and Olathe – that carry the line. Of course regular RV dealerships will also carry the Ford line.
Above: The Ford Campers are at the factory and will be arriving at dealerships in late September
TCM: When can we expect to see Ford truck campers arriving at dealers?
Scott: They should start arriving at dealerships in late September. Right now we have Ford orders out all the way into December.
We’re going to sign fifty Ford Camper dealers, and every Ford dealer is required to carry all seven truck camper models. That’s 350 truck camper orders to fill the pipeline.
At the same time we have Ford travel trailers and toy haulers coming out in July, and a Ford fifth wheel in September. Each of those RV types will have at least four floor plans, and the Ford RV dealers will also carry all of those. We have a lot of building to do this Summer and Fall.
TCM: Do you think any of the changes you’ve made with the Ford campers will carry over to the CampLite truck camper line?
Scott: The only thing might be is the use of wood cabinet doors. We have really nailed the production process of integrating the wood fronts and wood cabinet doors with our Livin Lite aluminum cabinet frames. It’s a really nice upgrade for our interiors and will be very popular with consumers.
TCM: Is Ford Motor Company going to advertise the Ford truck camper in television commercials, print ads, or the internet?
Scott: Verbally they have told us that they are going to have truck campers in their advertising campaigns as well as give the truck campers exposure by featuring them with their new aluminum Ford F-150 truck at car shows and other events. We’re really hoping to see it in print ads, television commercials, you name it.
Ford wants to come across as more family friendly, and more fun. Some people thought that when Ford went to aluminum it might be at the expense of strength and power, but that’s not true. When Ford shows their aluminum F-150 hauling a truck camper, or other Ford camper, it’s going to tell the whole story; family, fun, strength, and power.
TCM: Will Livin Lite mark the center of gravity on the Ford truck campers?
Scott: Yes, we will. It’s important, and we’ll do it. With the fiberglass cap and windshield, it should help with the center of gravity being even more forward of the rear axle.
TCM: What does the 2015 Ford 8.6 weigh? And what is the MSRP for the 8.5?
Scott: The Ford 8.6 weighs approximately 2,936 pounds. Overall, the Ford truck campers will be priced about 10% higher than our CampLite models. The base price of the 2016 Ford 8.6 is expected to be in the $26,500 range.
TCM: What does the 2016 Ford 6.8 weigh? And what is the MSRP for the 6.8?
Scott: The 2016 Ford 6.8 weighs approximately 2,252 pounds. The MSRP for the 6.8 is is expected to be in the $22,000 range.
TCM: What is the warranty for Ford truck campers?
Scott: The Ford Camper will have a three-year structural warranty, which includes anything welded, which is pretty much the entire coach. The bumper to bumper warranty is the traditional one year warranty we offer. The appliances have their own warranty, which ranges from one to three years.
TCM: Will we see any more Ford truck camper floor plans in 2015?
Scott: Yes, the full line is on its way. The next Ford camper will be the 8.4S, our short bed slide-out model. That’s a very popular floor plan for us.
TCM: Is there anything else about the new Ford truck campers that you would like to add?
Scott: I believe the Ford truck camper will help redefine and reintroduce truck campers to a new segment of the RV marketplace. I also believe it will bring truck campers to more RV dealerships than we’ve seen since the 1970s. I know that’s a bold statement, but this product has that kind of potential.
For more information about Ford Campers, visit their website at www.fordcampers.com.