By Tony Barthel
I have long said that the way the domestic RV market behaves is much, much like the domestic auto manufacturers of the 1970s. With the sheer dominance of this market, Thor, Forest River and Winnebago are not unlike GM, Ford and Chrysler in the ‘70s. While they all talk a good game, they should also be very, very, very wary of foreign competition.
Particularly from China.
And, case in point, Maxus unveiled a showcase that has made international news and shows that our industry in the U.S. needs to be paying close attention.
The Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition is available now in China for about $420,000. It shows that a large-scale manufacturer is eyeing the RV market very closely and has ideas that don’t come from spending time with the brochures of the competition.
The Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition
What the heck is this thing? Essentially it’s a Class C motorhome based on a Maxus cutaway platform that looks suspiciously familiar. While RV companies here do slides, this thing does more than that with a roof that glides up and provides a glass-enclosed penthouse complete with seating and a table.
The true news in this thing is the fact that you get to that second floor in an elevator. Seriously! Once you’re up there, there’s a transparent OLED TV at the back that serves as a window when it’s off but as a TV when it’s on. There’s also a front balcony. This is where I think there are lots of lost opportunities here in the U.S.
We have these giant roofs – we should be able to party up there. To my knowledge, there is but one company taking advantage of this real estate and that’s the RKS Purpose.
The first thing anyone who lives in a sunny area is going to wonder about is all that glass on the second floor, which is facilitated by employing split panes that sort of fold into one another when driving. But there are no curtains. Instead, the panels employ LCD technology that allow you to darken the windows at the touch of a button.
There are also opposing slide rooms on the main floor. There is a sleeping space above the cab, as you would expect in most Class Cs.
Downstairs in the Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition are the bathroom and full kitchen.
The grand tour of the Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition
Understand that my Chinese is a little rusty but, from what I can tell, as you walk into the fully opened unit the elevator is the first thing on your left. After that is the bathroom with a full shower and toilet. The company doesn’t provide a traditional layout plan as you might expect in U.S. RVs.
Across from the entrance is the kitchen with an oven, sink and cooking space. It seems that the cooktop is an induction model and the oven is similar to something like a large-scale toaster oven.
A large wrap-around couch covers most of the rest of the road-side wall and the wall against the cab. On the camp side is storage.
Finally, we get to a refrigerator-freezer. It seems that the whole RV is completely electric – based on the Chinese-language videos I was able to decipher. That’s going to make my browsing history on YouTube go completely bonkers.
Projectors abound in the Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition
Another interesting thing: There’s a huge screen on either side of the lower floor and projectors in the ceiling. Either wall can become a giant screen so you can enjoy some pretty impressively large video content. There’s even a third projector built in to project along the “bathroom” wall. Hey, U.S. manufacturers. One word: projectors!
Once you’ve taken the elevator upstairs, the space is pretty large. It has a large “mat” type of thing surrounding a table with a recessed area for your feet and legs.
To get to the open patio at the front there are large panes that open kind of like a modern garage door. This opens the whole front of the upstairs to fresh air. You can walk out and enjoy the patio.
SAIC Maxus Automotive Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company and owns a variety of brands including the English brand MG. Yep, the one that made the sports cars.
While they’re a relatively new brand to the Chinese market, Maxus has already established a few beachheads in vehicle production including a van, an MPV and a pickup.
The company seems to predominantly make vans and trucks. Clearly, these are popular here in the U.S., and I don’t doubt that they are in China as well.
This is also not their first RV as they make a pop-top van-style camper much like the VWs of the 1960s as well as Class Bs and even other Class Cs.
I can’t make any guess as to how popular these will be but it never hurts to have a halo product. This is especially true if that product is so newsworthy that it makes headlines in places where the product will never be available. In some ways, this is like the Winnebago Heli-Homes of the 1970s. They may not have sold well but, 50 years later, they’re still making headlines.
With our RV industry currently awash in capital, it might be time for a few of our own to make something so newsworthy that the world takes notice.
I do not have a specifications chart nor a floor plan for this vehicle. My apologies.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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