From Europe comes a one-piece fiberglass truck camper brimming with European design inside and out. For anyone who has wished that a European-style camper would make it to our shores, that day has arrived.
In our seventeen-year history, we have never seen a foreign manufacturer import truck campers into the United States and aim for broad distribution through domestic RV dealers. This is a potentially huge play by a relatively new company looking to open up the United States for truck camper imports. And that’s just Hotomobil USA’s business model.
One glance at Hotomobil’s truck campers and there can be no doubt about their European origins. For decades we have only been able to see European truck camper brands such as Tischer, Nordstar, and Bivak from afar and marvel at their European styling, appliances, and build approaches. With Hotomobil, this foreign approach to truck camper design and execution is making its way to our shores.
Above left to right: Adem Maden (Technical Manager), Cenk Ucar (General Manager), Tarik Aksoy (CEO), Pinar Kamci (Managing Partner,) Basari Erbas (Lycian Way Partner), Ned Tosyali (Lycian Way Partner)
As interesting as the Hotomobil truck campers might be, our first order of business was to talk to the leadership behind Hotomobil USA and learn how their campers are being imported, distributed, and sold. From our conversations with US and Canadian manufacturers who distribute campers overseas, the export and import process is no simple matter. We also wanted to know more about Hotomobil’s origins and Hotomobil USA’s vision for the US market.
For more information about Hotomobil and how this new-to-America brand is moving forward, we talked to Ned Tosyali, President of Hotomobil USA.
Above: ReStar Hotomobil factory in Gebze, Turkey
Hotomobil is not well known in the USA and Canada. What is the Hotomobil start-up story?
Hotomobil is a subsidiary of Restar Global, a major player in European automotive industry. Restar started in the Istanbul Tuzla shipyards in 2015. Today, Restar is based in Germany and has multiple production sites producing composite parts and automation concepts for automotive, marine, caravan (RV), construction, and infrastructure industries throughout Europe.
Hotomobil launched in 2019 with the introduction of the Ronin (Class B) motorhome in partnership with Fiat. With Restar’s expertise in monocoque composite fiberglass production techniques, they launched the Hotomobil line of truck campers. Hotomobil Europe now offers eight models of campers and motorhomes with 90 percent of Hotomobil’s production being exported to 28 countries on four continents.
Restar’s R&D and manufacturing expertise brings Hotomobil extensive design and modeling capabilities including 3 to 8 axis CNC and robotic arms (shown above), large-scale tooling, and large-scale 3D printing. For example, Restar can machine master patterns and molds up to 14 meters (45.9 feet) in length in a single pass.
Where are Hotomobil truck camper manufactured?
Hotomobil truck campers are manufactured in Gebze, Turkey, about two hours outside of Istanbul.
Above: Painting the interior of a Hotomobil one-piece fiberglass mold
Why doesn’t Hotomobil build the campers in Germany or the United States?
In Turkey, our labor and operating costs are significantly lower. If we manufactured Hotomobil truck campers in Germany or the United States, our costs would double.
You own Lycian Way, LLC, the importer of Hotomobil products into the United States. Tell us about your background.
I was born in the United States and moved to Turkey when I was five. At age 21, I dropped out of med school, moved back to the United States, relearned English, and started over. I worked with cabinet makers, drove New York City cabs, and tried to figure out my way.
That process eventually brought me to Wright State University in Ohio where I was a full-time Computer Operator and earned a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. All through this time, I was riding motorcycles, scuba diving, and becoming a college billiards champion.
I have about 500,000 miles on various motorcycles; chasing twisties, camping under the stars, and disappearing from society. In all, I’ve explored 48 states including Alaska. For me, riding a motorcycle is meditation. It’s beautiful to be out there in the middle of nowhere, forget the world and everything, and see the sky.
Above: Pulling a Hotomobil one-piece fiberglass mold
We can relate to the road being meditation. How did you get into truck camping?
That story starts in San Francisco. In 2000, I moved to San Francisco Bay from Ohio to take a job as a Hardware Engineer with Intel. In 2004, I moved to the Santa Cruz mountains by Big Basin Park to get away from the city and ride some of the best roads on my commute to Santa Clara. By 2009, I was burned out at Intel, and bought an APA (American Poolplayers Association) franchise in San Francisco. I built the franchise up to over 500 players.
In 2015, I became a contract Software Engineer for Apple for two years. I then sold the APA franchise in 2017 and worked for Anaplan, a business planning software company in San Francisco. In 2018, I moved to an island in the California Delta and lived in an RV-converted 1964 Greyhound bus. To get to work, I bought a boat and used BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). That continued until 2023 when major layoffs hit a good portion of Silicon Valley.
Backing up to 2022, I wanted to get back into camping, but I wanted more luxury. To make this happen, I researched truck campers. From that, I concluded the best truck camper in the United States and Canada is Northern Lite.
I already had a 2021 Toyota Tundra work truck and went looking for a Northern Lite it could carry. That search led to a unicorn; a 1993 Northern Lite 8.4 truck camper. It doesn’t have a bathroom, but it’s watertight, has zero mold, and is built amazingly well. And the refrigerator still works. With that set up, I jumped into truck camping. My favorite camping places are secret hot springs I’ve discovered during my travels. I don’t share these locations with anyone unless they go with me.
Above: The Hotomobil truck camper production lines
What led you to start importing Hotomobil into America?
One of my oldest friends in Turkey also rides motorcycles. He came across Hotomobil, sent me a link to the company, and asked, “What do you think about this?” I looked at it and started talking with the company about importing Hotomobil campers into the United States. It took almost a year before we met face-to-face in Turkey.
Naturally, I speak Turkish and English and have an understanding of US import applications. I can also relate to both sides and show the team at Hotomobil team how things work in the American market.
Importing campers isn’t simple. You have to get a Certificate of Origin, make sure materials meet US Customs requirements, and have every material noted; right down to the screws. It’s a complicated process. If anything isn’t approved, it gets sent back.
Above: A painted and completed Hotomobil truck camper
What is Hotomobil looking to do in the United States?
Hotomobil would like to go big in the USA. They are selling a lot of motorhomes and truck campers, and have a superior product. The monocoque camper body itself is an impressive way of building. It’s a beautiful camper.
Are you technically the importer (buying the campers from Hotomobil Europe to sell), or an Agent for Hotomobil Europe (acting on behalf of Hotomobil Europe)?
I am both the Importer and the Agent for Hotomobil Europe. Right now we are seeking to partner with RV dealers in the United States to sell Hotomobil truck campers. If you are a dealer, please contact me.
Above: The mid-size Hotomobil Gladiator SB with rooftop tent option
Above: The Hotomobil Gladiator SB on a mid-size Ford Ranger
Is it economical to make campers in Turkey and ship them to America?
Yes. We have done the math. And we have a product that’s superior to anything made in the USA and Canada.
The materials used to construct a Hotomobil camper aren’t necessarily cheaper, but the structure is superior, and the labor and regulations are far less. I honestly don’t see a camper built to the quality of Hotomobil being less than $150,000 if it was made in the United States or Canada. We’re pricing Hotomobil campers at a third of that cost.
Above: The full-size Hotomobil Gladiator LB on a GMC Sierra
How are Hotomobil campers shipped from Turkey to the United States?
Hotomobil truck campers are shipped three to a 40-foot container. We have already received our first shipment of Hotomobil truck campers in the United States.
Are there any importing costs or responsibilities for the prospective US Hotomobil dealer?
No. Hotomobil USA will handle all of the customs and shipping logistics. From that point, we will ship Hotomobil truck campers to Hotomobil dealers throughout the United States. We hope to also ship to dealers in Canada, but that requires an additional layer of import applications.
Are you planning to sell Hotomobil campers directly or through US and Canadian dealerships?
We are going to sell through dealers.
Above and below: The Hotomobil Gladiator LB (for full-size trucks) interior
Are Hotomobil USA campers made to order or production-built?
We have a production build for the United States that’s approved for import and customs. It’s essentially a loaded unit, with a few adjustments for United States requirements. We want the import and dealer process to be as simple as possible.
Does the Hotomobil product use European appliances and parts that might not be available in America?
Nearly everything in a Hotomobil truck camper is available in the United States. And the parts that are European-specific function the same way as US versions, only with a European aesthetic. We will have a stash of common Hotomobil parts available here in the United States for immediate shipping. Anything else that’s needed can be ordered from Europe and shipped here.
Above and below: The Hotomobil SB (for mid-size trucks) interior
Can someone in the United States see a Hotomobil truck camper today?
We have three Hotomobil truck campers in the USA right now and are importing more in the first quarter. The three here are in California and will soon be shipped to a new Hotomobil USA facility in Texas.
If someone wants to see a Hotomobil truck camper, they can contact us to arrange a visit. In the future, prospective customers will be able to visit a Hotomobil dealer to see our campers.
We are also looking into showcasing Hotomobil at Overland events, RV shows, and truck camper rallies throughout 2024. We understand that people need to see the campers before making a purchase.
Above: Components installed in a Hotomobil cabover step
How will Hotomobil warranty claims be handled with a parent company based in Germany, a factory in Turkey, and an importer located in Texas?
We will handle this the same way as other truck camper companies. First, we encourage you to take your Hotomobil truck camper to the Hotomobil dealer you purchased from. If that’s not possible, contact us at Hotomobil USA and we’ll direct you to an RV repair facility. The RV repair facility will then invoice us for any warranty service. If there’s damage or warranty work to the fiberglass structure of the unit, we will find a repair facility that can handle fiberglass repairs.
Hotomobil also manufactures Class B vans, motorhomes, travel trailers, rooftop tents, and even a small electric car. Will you be importing any or all of these products as well?
Right now we’re strictly importing truck campers. Vehicles are much more complicated to import.
Above: The Hotomobil Gladiator LB
What’s your five-year vision for Hotomobil USA?
Our primary vision for five years is to build a Hotomobil user base community and see more and more people enjoying Hotomobil campers.
The truck camper production capacity at Hotomobil Europe is exceptional. We are looking to sign Hotomobil dealers in the United States now. Once we have our first truck camper dealer in the United States, we will direct all Hotomobil sales through that dealer.
To see the specifications, capacities, MSRPs, and more photos, visit the Hotomobil Buyers Guide.