谈房车的时候,我们在谈论什么?上篇:自行房车 (双语/ALSO IN ENGLISH)

谈房车的时候,我们在谈论什么?上篇:自行房车 (双语/ALSO IN ENGLISH)

风流成行风流成行

我是我。风流是我的房车,成行是我的梦想。未来一段时间,我会用一系列文字聊房车,记录我人生中光怪陆离的一章。

背景

不论是规划开启一段新奇的房车旅行,还是准备加入全职房车游民的部落,首先要需要回答的问题都是,咱钱够吗?在我目前的居住地美国中南部,二万美元的购车预算和两千美元的维修预算妥妥的把我定位在价格敏感人士,说人话就是穷。为了压缩试错的成本,我花了很多时间学习房车的类型,性能,各自的优势和短板。经过兢兢业业的漫长等待,在二零一七年初秋,飓风来到之前的一个闷热早晨,我突然以预算内的价格购买到了心仪的房车。

谈房车的时候,我们在谈论什么?上篇:自行房车

美国是车轮上的国家。美国人深爱、热爱、挚爱公路旅行。落基山脉,纪念碑谷,六十六号公路,通往阿拉斯加的冰封之旅,跨越整个北半球温带的漫长的海岸线… … 从西部片的年代,旅行就是放荡不羁爱自由的美国人寻找财富和自己的修行。今天北美大陆壮观的自然风光和丰富的文化风俗仍然吸引着世界各地的旅行者来到美国,把长途跋涉本身作为旅行的目的。

最早的房车是西部电影里的大篷车,马拉的车里装的是旅行者的整个生活。今天美国的房车叫“休闲旅行车”,意思是房车不是房子也不是车,而是成人玩具。本文提到的成人玩具都不是微型成人家用玩具,而是摩托车、游艇、小飞机之类,卧室外面更好玩的那种。

房车的祖宗,马拉大篷车 Ancestor of RVs: horse-drawn caravan

房车的生产至今仍然很复古,可以算是半工业化半作坊式。“车”的引擎和底盘来自成熟的汽车生产流水线,“房”基本都是小规模生产甚至私人定制。因为用户对居住和旅行的需求千差万别,生产商通常需要根据客户的需求设计安装全套的水电系统和生活起居设施。这些充满个人化设计,手工的制作和安装的生产流程,既是房车的魅力,又是它的局限。作坊式的生产为房车的居住体验带来无限种可能,然而复杂庞大的水电燃气排污取暖系统给机动车体带来的巨大压力,不断地挑战设计,安装和驾乘使用的每一个环节。

人肉生产线上接受爱抚的房车 RV Receiving Tender Loving Care on the Fully MANUAL Product Line

为了命中理想的定价区间,房车厂商控制成本的最常用也是最有效的手段是最大化的利用机动车引擎和底盘的性能,通过激进的车厢扩展和机械负载最大化实现对居住功能和空间的追求。设计不合理,造成车体长期承压运行,重心诡异,轮胎受气,驾乘不稳,磕头甩尾,会为使用者带来安全隐患和未来高昂的维护成本。怎么选车,门道非常多。买二手,买车八千修车一万绝对不是传说;即使买新车,遇到包修两年,返修十八个月也并不少见。这些显然都不是愉快的房车体验。会选车,会养车,才能是房车生活的正确打开方式。

说完了背景,咱们回到房车本身。房车按驱动方式分有自行和拖挂两大类。本篇先聊自行房车。

“自行”就是自己能行,自带发动机的意思。自行房车的价格总体高于拖挂房车,发动机和底盘毕竟都是挺贵的部件。自行房车又分为A级,B级和C级。

A级房车

A级房车听起来很高大上,实际上通常也是高大上。A级房车简单地说就是大巴房车。很多人听到“房车”想起的就是A级房车。它们的长度一般在八米到十四米。外形方正像公交车,内部空间比较大,通常可以分为驾驶区,起居空间,厨房,卫浴和卧室。起居空间的沙发和餐位一般都能扩展为第二、三张床,一般可以睡四到六个人。当然这六个人最好至少有两个人身高不超过一米五六,体重不超过四十二公斤这种事,一般销售都不爱提。

A级房车因为性能更强大,可以做的极尽奢华。双卫生间、按摩浴缸、对开门冰箱、制冰机、洗衣机和烘干机这些占据空间大、水电资源消耗高的电器设施是外行能够看懂的花哨;大型房车还有些肉眼不可见,听上去很不性感的门道。比如装备液压恒温系统的房车可以在冰天雪地和炎炎戈壁保证房车里的每一个人,每一件行李,每一个机电系统都处在安静的环境和适宜的温度。吃好睡好少抛锚,才是真正奢侈的房车旅行体验。

A级房车是新购房车中价格最高的一类,柴油驱动A级房车价格更是处于价格金字塔顶级。网上那些金光闪闪靓绝大雄宝殿的房车内部照片基本都展示的是A级车。基于自身较大的高度和重量,驾驶A级房车和开中小型车很不一样,需要有适应过程。设计精良的A级房车长宽得体,配重合理,开起来还是相当顺手的。

A级房车外观 Class A Exterior
A级房车内饰 Class A Interior
A级房车布局 Class A Layout

A级房车新车的买主是妥妥的玩家,追求居住舒适,对购车价格和旅行的开销不怎么在乎。A级房车的新车价格从低端的六万美元到顶级的两三百万美元都有。在二手车市场,A级房车的供给量大,因为很多车主一旦觉得“不好玩”就卖车。二手车的价格跨度也很感人,几大千美元就能买到一台跑得动的老爷车。

B级房车

B级房车是广大中国人民喜闻乐见的面包车,经典的B型房车长度一般不超六米,容纳两名成年人,少数可以躺下三四个人。B级房车很少被巨幅改装,能最大限度地保持量产汽车的原厂设计,在外形和性能上都和原车最接近,具有最高的安全性和最近理想的驾驶体验。不过因为内部空间有限,取舍难免。起居、厨卫和睡眠空间高度紧凑,设备也是极度精简,有些“露营车”甚至没有卫生间。小空间也换来了其他房车都无法企及的灵活和轻便:不超过六米的车长,在大多数城市中心区都是不限行的;在崎岖山路上也可以来去自由,不怕趴窝;轻巧的车身还有利于降低燃油和电池的消耗,节约居住和旅行开支。设计精良的B级车不仅长度短,外观甚至和小型商务旅行车没有什么区别,普通停车场可以停放休息,一眼看不出来里面住了人,省钱而且不招贼惦记。相比十几米的大车,光停车费一项的节约,就很可观。因为这些特性,B级房车的很吸引需要长途驾乘的商务人士,新车的目标客户的消费能力相当强大。

B级房车外观 Class B Exterior
B级房车内饰 Class B Interior
B级房车布局 Class B Layout

B级房车还衍生出了B+房车,就是在B级房车的基础上增加车身的长宽高。B+长度八米左右,居住设施比较完善,住起来比其他的B级房车舒适不少。不过增加的体积总是要增加油耗和停车费用,还有限行和限停的隐忧,这些就要使用者自己平衡了。

B+

B级房车个子小,价格却不便宜。比如奔驰轻客改装的B级房车,性能棒油耗低,安全系数高,是各个顶级房车生产商力推的车型。厂商不同价格也不太一样,一辆奔驰架构的标配版新车售价十五万美元左右,定义了B级房车价格的上线。B级房车好开而且在路上省钱,使它们在二手车市场很受欢迎,保价能力远远超过其它房车。当然,好开代表他们的使用率也比较高,同等价位的二手B级房车要么就是很老,要么就是里程表读数相当高,或者是买不到。

C级房车

C级房车是基于卡车引擎和底盘改装的房车,是美国最受欢迎的自行房车。C级房车外观很有特点:驾驶室上顶着一颗“大脑门”。在美国,C级房车的引擎和底盘最常用的是福特E系列轻卡。类似的引擎和底盘动力好,负载高,而且广泛使用,修车保养价格便宜而且速度快。这一特点在人工超贵物流死慢的美国,深受广大机动车驾乘人员的待见。C级房车的外部体积和内部空间都比较宽松,和A级房车相比也不逊色。然而C级房车最大的卖点,也就是它和A级房车的主要区别:驾驶室上方的“大脑门”,可以做成睡眠舱。如果是一两个人住,不论增加储物还是腾出地面空间,总是好的。如果家人朋友同行,三四个甚至更多人住在车里,多睡眠空间就是必须的了。C级房车驾驶室上方的小阁楼和主卧一前一后分的很开,在有限的空间里保持最大的私密;而且“大脑门”专门用来睡觉,白天不用折起来,省得天天和沙发床较劲。说到沙发,如果不嫌麻烦,C级房车的沙发和餐位通常还能折叠成床,挤挤能睡六到八个人。对家里不止一个小孩的美国人来说,便宜大只的C级房车很适合全家出行。因此,C级房车也因此成为租车行的最爱。顶级的C级房车基于重型卡车打造,是玩家的选择。

C级房车外观 Class C Exterior
C级房车内饰 Class C Interior
C级房车布局 Class C Layout
玩家版的C级房车 Class C for Serious Adult Toy Lovers

C级房车的新车价格在四五万到四五十万美元之间,玩家版的C级房车价格最高,可以达到八十万美元以上。相似配置的C级房车一般比A级房车便宜一些,这个差价难免在性能和内部装修细节上有所反映。和A级房车二手车市场类似,C级房车的二手车供给量也很大,价格甚至可以更低。不过因为成本限制,低价区间的C级房车的老化也是特别的快。

奇葩

自行房车这个大类还包含各路神仙自己改装的奇葩。不管是大大小小长长短短的货车和客车,还是校车、救护车,机场摆渡车,甚至帆布大篷车,都有改装达人解锁了房车版。要想上头条,估计只有挑消防车、油罐车、混凝土搅拌车和坦克下手了。还有一款早在二零一三年底就全球范围停产的大众小巴,硬是靠着几十年如一日的被改装成颜值超高的露营车,成功撩拨一大波臀在家里、心在路上的网瘾老中青少年,在社交媒体上火得一塌糊涂。

校车改装的房车 School Bus turned into RV
救护车改装的房车 Ambulance Turned into RV
大众小巴改装的露营车 VW Mini Van Camper

“谈房车的时候,我们在谈论什么”下篇将介绍美国独具特色的拖挂房车,敬请期待。

爱看的话请点关注,未来一段时间计划在知乎答题写文章,专聊房车。话说你爱不爱房车其实真无所谓,手指一动,不过是因为你对更大的世界心存好奇。我的目标也不是死磕冷冷的机器和炫耀遥远的旅程;你我皆凡人,我写字是为了和在另外一个时空阅读的你分享人生的精彩与无奈、人性的和谐与悲哀。

不定期给文章和帖子增加内容和链接,常来看看。本文附英文版,写着玩,不是严格的翻译。

错过了我的开天辟地知乎首答?请戳:在房车内吃饭、睡觉,甚至洗澡,是一种怎么样的体验? - 风流成行的回答 - 知乎
zhihu.com/question/5847,慢着,先点个赞再走咯!
如果写的不够好没收到赞,能读到这儿已经是对我的支持,非常感谢!

最后介绍一下我的高科技全时覆盖居家旅行必备警报防卫系统:旺达

Whether planning an exotic trip or joining full time nomads, the first question for anyone thinking about getting an RV is always, “do I have the money?” Living in the south of the United States, my twenty thousand purchasing budget and two thousand repairing budget put me in the category of being “price sensitive” or, poor in human language. To reduce trial and error costs, I spent quite a bit of time learning about types, features, and the characteristics of different RVs. After a long and devoted wait, I found the one on a muggy morning before hurricane hits in early fall of 2017.

What are we saying when we talk about RVs? Part 1 Motor homes

Background

United States is a nation on wheels. Americans love, Love, LOVE traveling the roads of Rocky Mountains, Monument Valley, Route 66, journey to icy Alaska and the coastal stretch
across the entire temperate zone of the Northern Hampshire. Since the early age of western movies, wild and free Americans hit the roads to find wealth and selves. Today the spectacular nature and diverse culture attracts people from all over the world to come to America so they can make the long road trips when they arrive.

The earliest mobile homes were horse-drawn caravans containing the entire lives of the travelers. Today mobile homes are called “RVs” or “recreational vehicles,” meaning they are neither home nor means of transportation, but adult toys. Instead of small devices used in bedrooms, the term “adult toy” in this article refers to motorcycles, yachts, and private airplanes: The kind that are only fun when played outdoors.

(Picture: Ancestor of RVs, a horse drawn caravan)

The production of an RV is still old school: half industrial, half workshop. The engine and chassis of the “vehicle” side are produced on automobile product lines. However, the “houses” are almost always small-scale production, sometimes even customized. The manufactures usually need to design all plumbing and electrical systems as well as living facilities based on buyers’ highly diverse needs for traveling and living. These individualized designs are often made by hand and installed manually. This is the beauty and curse of RVs. The workshop productions process offers unlimited possibilities for living experience, however the massively complex plumbing, electrical, fuel and sewage systems add enormous burdens to the body of any vehicle. Every single aspect of design, production and functionality is put to constant test.

(Picture: RV Receiving Tender Loving Care on the Fully MANUAL Assembly Line)

To land in the ideal price range, manufactures frequently and effectively control production
costs by maximizing the capacity of engines and chassis to accommodate needs for larger and more comfortable living spaces. Ill-designed vehicles are stressed and unbalanced, putting a lot of pressure on tires and the driver. Risk and maintenance cost can be very high for RVs. Choosing the right vehicle is extremely important, especially when buying second hand. It is entirely possible to pay eight thousand dollars for a second-hand vehicle then spend ten thousand fixing it. Even for new RVs, it is not unheard of to spend eighteen months out of the first twenty-four month of warranty period in the manufacturers’ repair shops. These cannot be pleasant experiences. Living a happy RV life is all about getting the right vehicle then treating it with respect.

Enough of background, now we move on to talk about the RVs themselves. Based on drive mode RVs are either motor homes or trailers. This article will focus on motor homes.

“Motor homes” come with motors and go places on their own. Motor homes are more expensive than trailers: engine and chassis are costly parts. Motor homes can be Class A, Class B or Class C.

Class A Motor Homes

Class A motor homes sounds classy and expensive, and they usually are. Simply put, Class A motor homes are RVs built on a bus-like frame. When picturing an “RV” most people picture a Class A. Most Class As are eight to fourteen meters long, boxy, and spacious inside. The interior is usually divided into cockpit, living space, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Sofa and dining space can often be turned into beds, accommodating to a total of four to six people. Yet a sales person may not want to mention at least two out of the six passengers should be shorter than 1.56 meters and lighter than 42 kilograms.

Because Class A motor homes are built on powerful machines, they can be luxurious. Obviously extravagant facilities include hunky resource burners like double baths, massage tubs, French door refrigerators, ice makers and washer/dryers. However, the true wonders of a luxurious Class A motor homes sometimes are invisible and do not sound sexy at all. For example, motor homes with hydraulic heating systems can maintain perfect temperatures for every person, every piece of luggage AND all parts of the machinery. Living in comfort and driving without fear of breaking down is the true definition of the luxurious RV traveling experience.

Class A motor homes are the most expensive of all RVs when buying new. Diesel engine Class A motor homes sit on the top of the RV price pyramid. Almost all those gold and glorious pictures of RV interiors are taken inside Class As. Because it is big and heavy, driving a Class A is very different from driving a van or a car. There will be a learning curve. Well-designed Class As are well proportioned and balanced. It is not difficult to drive one of those big guys.

(Pictures: Class A Exterior, Interior and Layout)

Buyers of new Class As are enthusiasts. They want to have a good time with their toys and the cost of purchasing and owning RVs is not their primary concern. A new Class A can cost anywhere from sixty-thousand to a few million dollars. Supplies of Class As are abundant in the second-hand market, since many Class A owners simply get rid of their toys when they have had their fun. The price range of second-hand Class As is wide. A few thousand dollars is sometimes enough to get an old Class A that is still capable of hitting the road.

Class B Motor homes

Class B motor homes are vans that are loved by many Chinese. A typical Class B is no longer than six meters, equipped to accommodate two adults, sometimes able to sleep four. Class B motor homes are rarely rebuilt bumper to bumper. The original automobile factory designs are preserved to the max. They look and drive like the original vehicle, which means their safety levels and driving experiences are very close to ideal. However, since the space is limited, difficult decisions have to be made regarding what facilities are the must-haves and everything else has to go. In compact living spaces like Class B vans, kitchen, bath and sleeping spaces are reduced to skeletons. Many “campers” do not even have toilets. However, because of their small sizes, Class B motor homes are swift and easy to
maneuver, unlike other RV types. Being as short as six meters also means they are allowed in the downtown areas of most cities. Also on bumpy curvy mountain roads Class Bs can maneuver without getting stuck on soft surface or by tight turns. Being small and light saves fuel, thus saving traveling costs. A well-designed Class B cannot be easily distinguished from a next minivan. They can be parked in a regular parking lot when the drivers need breaks. Since it is not obvious that people may be resting inside the vehicle, it is safer as well. Compared to larger RV types, the Class Bs save a sizable chunk of parking expenses. For these reasons, Class B vans are popular with business people who need to travel long distances, a group of customers with significant spending power.

(Pictures: Class B Exterior, Interior and Layout)

Class B+ are buffed up Class Bs. They are taller, wider and longer than Class Bs, reaching eight meters in length. Their living facilities are rather elaborate, providing more comfort. As a result, the costs of fuel and parking also increase as well as concerns for restrictions when driving and parking in cities. RVers must strike their own balances.

(Picture: B+)

Class Bs’ small sizes do not translate into lower prices. Top motor home manufacturers love to promote Class B motor homes built with Mercedes vans as high performance, low consumption vehicles with excellent safety standards. Prices vary with different makers but a Class B motor home built on a Mercedes chassis can cost as much as 150 thousand USD, which more of less defines the price ceiling for Class Bs. Easy to drive and saving money on the road, Class Bs are popular in the second-hand market and they hold their value much better than any other RV types. Naturally they are also driven more. A second-hand Class B van is either going to be older, with higher mileage, or most frequently, not available in the same price range as other types of motor homes.

Class C motor homes

Class C motor homes are built on truck chassis. They are the most popular motor homes in the US. Class Cs can be easily identified by their unique “protruding foreheads” above the cabs. The most commonly used engine and chassis for Class C motor homes are Ford E series pickup trucks. Such components are powerful, reliable and widely used, which makes them cheap and easy to maintain and repair, thus really attractive to a lot of vehicle owners in America where labor is horrifyingly expensive and logistics are painfully slow. Class Cs are
fairly large and their spacious interiors can be easily compared to Class As. However, the
unique selling point of Class Cs is also its one major difference from Class A: The “foreheads” can be turned into sleep pods. For one or two travelers, it is always nice to have extra storage or floor space. When traveling with friends and family with three or four people living in one vehicle, the extra sleeping space becomes essential. The cubbyhole above the cab and the main bedroom in the rear are in different ends of the vehicle, providing
the maximum amount of privacy in a limited space. The “forehead” can be dedicated to sleeping only, there is no need to rearrange bedding every day as needed with sleeper
sofas. Speaking of sleeper sofas, if you do not mind rearranging, Class Cs can
usually accommodate four to six people with the sofa and dinette converted into beds. For most American families with more than one child, spacious and reasonably priced Class Cs are ideal for family trips. For the same reasons, Class Cs are also rental companies’ favorites. The top of the line Class Cs are built on heavy duty trucks and popular choices of
enthusiasts.

(Pictures: Class C Exterior, Interior, Layout and a Class C for Adult Toy Lovers)

A brand-new Class C can cost between $40,000 and $500,000. Class Cs for enthusiasts are the most expensive and can cost up to $800,000. With similar configurations, Class Cs are usually somewhat cheaper than Class As. However, the price difference does reflect in performance and build quality. Just like Class As, supply of Class Cs in the second-hand market is abundant, with even lower prices. Due to cost control, lower priced Class Cs rarely age well.

Weirdos

In the category of motor homes, there are also all kinds of unusual remodeled vehicles created by their wonderful and wacky owners. Long or short, big or small, cargo van or passenger vehicles, school buses, ambulances, airport shuttles, even canvas caravans have all be turned into mobile homes by somebody. To be the first to renovate a never-before type of vehicle, the options might be limited to firetrucks, fuel tanker trucks, concrete mixers or actual tanks. The one VW minivan that has been out of production globally since 2013 has survived and thrived for decades, solely by being converted into extremely photogenic camper vans. Their images on social media pull the heart strings of young and old from all over the world whose butts are safely grounded at home while their minds wonder the roads.

(Pictures: School Bus RV, Ambulance RV and VW Camper Van)

Thanks for reading. In part two of “What are we saying when we talk about RVs”
we will talk about trailers. If you missed my first answer (and you read Chinese, or just want to see pictures) here it is: 风流成行:在房车内吃饭、睡觉,甚至洗澡,是一种怎么样的体验?

Meet my security system: Wanda.

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