TCM talks with Gary Conley, National Sales Manager for Lance Campers, about the 2011 Lance 865 and changes to Lance’s 2011 line. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a super slide!
When we debuted the 2010 Lance 850 in November of 2009, Lance dropped a bomb when they announced they were preparing to release not just one all-new camper, but five. Over the past ten months, four of those five all-new Lance truck campers have arrived at dealerships across the United States and Canada. Now it’s finally time for the most anticipated of the new Lance line to make it’s debut, the 2011 Lance 865.
While we were talking to Gary Conley, we also asked him about some of the other new developments at Lance Camper. And just when we thought we had everything down, Gary dropped another bomb with a new camper tease for next year.
2011 Lance 865 Specifications
The 2011 Lance 865 is a hard side, non-slide, rear wet-bath truck camper. The interior floor length of the 2011 Lance 865 is 8’ 7” and the interior height is 78″. The exterior length is 16′ 7″ and Lance is reporting the dry weight of the camper at 1,830 pounds without options. The tanks in the 2011 Lance 865 are 30 gallons fresh, 14 gallons gray, and 13 gallons black. The camper accommodates one battery and one 20-pound propane tank. The MSRP for the 2011 Lance 865 is $16,493.
TCM: How does the 865 compare to the 815 it replaces?
Gary: We’ve made many improvements with the 2011 Lance 865 compared to the 815 model it replaces. For starters, we’ve incorporated a rear entry step to make 865 much easier to access than the 815.
The exterior features a large portable generator compartment which is something that was not available on the 815. We’ve also configured the 865 camper to fit on short bed trucks and lifted the rails of the camper so it will properly fit the new trucks from Ford and Chevrolet.
On the interior, we’ve made more improvements starting with the bigger and more usable bathroom with increased headroom. The holding tanks on the 865 are split with 14 gallons for grey and 13 gallons for black. The holding tanks on the 815 were combined and smaller overall.
The kitchen has been configured to offer a deep bowl sink. There’s also a pull out pantry in the 865, an option that people have asked us for in an eight-foot camper. Because of the pull out panty, we are able to have a lower wardrobe.
I’m very excited for people to see this camper. It’s very unique.
TCM: Tell us about the development of the 865.
Gary: First you have to have the vision and the goal of what you are trying to achieve. With our research and development department, we can prototype new campers physically and on the computer with our SolidWorks system.
SolidWorks helps us to model the camper so that we know it will fit on our customer’s trucks. SolidWorks also gives Lance campers uniformity, consistency, and quality.
Almost 100% of the 865 model is being built using our CNC machines. We have a two step lamination process on the walls. They are laminated, run through a CNC machine, and then laminated again. We’re trying to build a camper that will be longer lasting and more efficient.
TCM: What differences would the customer notice from the use of SolidWorks and CNC machines?
Gary: One thing the consumer may notice is the almost total absence of plastics inside the unit. Plastics don’t fair well with the elements. Plastics expand and contract and become a nuisance and a maintenance issue.
We have also eliminated toxins inside our units. As of January 1st, you can not sell a unit new that is not CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant in California. For example, products that are CARB compliant cannot emit formaldehyde. It’s a huge trend coming across the country and we have been CARB complaint in our 2010 and 2011 products.
TCM: What about the price of the 865? Since you’ve found new efficiencies with the SolidWorks and CNC machines, has the price gone down from the 815 to the 865?
Gary: Price wise, the 865 costs about the same as the 815. But, we’ve added a lot of features to the 865. With our efficiencies in the CNC department, we’ve been able to hold the cost of the unit rather than raising prices.
Some of the materials we are now using are more expensive. The 865 has aluminum rather than wood framing, fiberglass exterior, a pull-out pantry, and a bigger bathroom. Those materials and features cost more, but with the CNC efficiencies we can keep the camper cost the same. The consumer is getting many more features for same amount of money.
TCM: How does the 865 fit into Lance’s 2011 product line against the seventy-five pounds lighter, and one inch shorter 2011 Lance 825? At first blush, these two campers seem to be competing for the same customer.
Gary: It’s a choice. If you offer one flavor, not everyone will like it because people don’t all like the same flavor. The Lance 865 has a more traditional floor plan than the 825. The 865 offers people the option to sit in the dinette and have a curb view. It also has a more airy interior feel.
Some customers will prefer the 825, others will prefer the 865. Lance dealers have both campers on their lots which gives our customers the choice. We want to give our customers more choices.
TCM: When will the 865 be available to see at Lance dealerships and RV shows?
Gary: You can see the 865 right now. We’ve been producing and distributing this model for about thirty days. Most Lance dealerships should have them. It will obviously be at the Hershey RV Show in Pennsylvania this weekend.
TCM: Let me ask you about some of the other recent changes to Lance Campers. What’s new for the Lance Camper line for 2011?
Gary: Last year we announced five new campers, the 850, 855, 865, 950, and 950S. The 865 is the last of these new campers to make their debut.
Most of the changes to the Lance line for 2011 are face lifts and new features. We added pull-out pantries, space for portable and built-in generators, larger holding tanks, and larger sinks. We’ve also lifted the rail heights of our campers to accommodate the taller rail heights of the new Chevy and Ford trucks.
The weight of the camper is job one for us, so we’re always concentrating on taking weight out of our campers. We also focus on making sure our campers fit the specifications of the trucks so a Lance Camper rig is easy to handle driving down the road. At Lance we target, develop, evolve, and produce models people want.
And we will have another new camper at Louisville.
TCM: Nice tease. We’ll have to wait until the end of November to see what you’re up to. Tell us about the new Lance super slide.
Gary: Right now the 992 and 1191 incorporate the super slide, which adds almost a foot to the actual slide space. With the super slide, we can have a full U-shaped dinette in the 992 and 1191. I’ll send you a photograph that shows our entire sales representative team inside the super slide. It easily fits five or more people comfortably without an issue. We learned how to do the super slide from building travel trailers.
Super slides also have exterior storage that runs almost six feet long internally. You can use that for fishing poles, snowboards, wake boards, or golf clubs. It’s structurally rock solid with the Happijac slide mechanism.
TCM: Is there anything we didn’t ask you that you’d like to add to your interview?
Gary: We had a good year, so our dealers are bringing in more truck camper inventory. There is now a lot more product to see out in the field.
We are switching over our bigger campers to the SolidWorks and CNC process getting the new technology applied. The 1191 and 992 are being changed over to the new building process as we speak.
The 865 is a good value camper. There are a lot of people who want to go to Alaska. They want something that is self contained, that has capacities, and that will get them to places they’ve dreamed about going. The 865 fits the bill.
TCM: Thanks Gary. And let us know when you’re ready to announce the new camper.
Gary: You’ll just have to wait for the news. I can tell you this, it’s a classic.