1985 : THE FIRST A-CLASS MOTORHOME
Pilote brought out its first A-Class motorhome and pinned its growth on developing exports.
In 1985, two revolutionary developments occurred at Pilote. Faced with persistent market stagnation, the manufacturer stopped producing caravans. The same year, Pilote brought out its first A-Class motorhome, the R700 on a Peugeot or Citroën C25 chassis. The plant’s production capacity was 2,550 motorhomes.
Its target was to sell 1,500 over the 1985-1986 season.
Like the low profile vehicles, A-Class motorhomes made a strong start with the R610, 620 and 630 models.
The Pilote strategy was based on innovation and maintaining quality standards. The design office or prototype workshop accounted for 10% of the workforce and was allocated a considerable budget.
Pilote initiated a large-scale investment programme of around 2 to 3 million francs to set up and equip an additional industrial building dedicated to producing a new material, polyester fibreglass, with a view to improving the quality and safety of its motorhomes.
Pilote worked hard to develop exports, which were one of the key elements of its strategy for the future. The manufacturer took a considerable lead in this area. At a very early stage, when the French market offered prospects which might have appeared adequate, Pilote set up its international dealer network. It also took part in international trade fairs and exhibitions enabling it to adapt its products to the tastes and requirements of these countries. Being ahead of the game on exports gave Pilote a major advantage. Forty percent of the brand’s turnover was achieved abroad and it aimed to increase this figure to 50% in the coming years.
PILOTE SA became the top European manufacturer of motorhomes. Even as it was taking its place as market leader, Philippe Padiou decided to make new investments.
Pilote overhauled the shape and aesthetics of its motorhomes while also making changes to the colours..
A new R900 A-Class made entirely of polyester, which had already been on the table for some time, was now ready at the La Limouzinière workshops. Pilote planned to use this model to launch a series of high-end motorhomes and thus enable the brand to access a future market niche by adopting the image of a high-tech manufacturer.
The first A-Class made of polyester sandwich boards left the Pilote polyester workshop in 1988.
It was a large vehicle measuring around 6.50m in length with a J5/C25 chassis. It offered the benefits of a full polyester assembly: impermeability, improved insulation due to the lack of thermal bridges, sturdiness and a high-level finish.
The company has got 180 employees. 2,000 motorhomes are manufactured of which 50% were earmarked for export.