Why the big price difference between flatbed and slide-in??

armstrom

New member
I did a quick search and didn't see any topics on this... but is there a general consensus of why flatbed campers cost so much more (generally thousands!) than an otherwise equivalent slide-in camper? Some specific examples are the the hawk from four wheel campers... a basic config of the slide-in costs $11k LESS than a similar config of the flatbed (~$26.6k vs ~$38k). If you go the kit route from a company like bison overland a bare slide in costs $6k less than the equivalent flatbed ($17.5k vs $23.5k).

Objectively, from a pure labor and materials standpoint I expect the flatbed to actually be CHEAPER (for the same size camper). There are fewer edges and panels to cut, and you don't need as compicated of fixturing/jig to hold the parts. If you're using prefab wall panels then the total surface area of the panels remains the same (interior volume is less for the slide in) but the "notches" on the slide-in camper add at least four extra edges so you consume more of your edge material (extruded aluminum, filastruted fiberglass, whatever) as well as adhesives/fasteners and you have to add structural support for the new horizontal surfaces so the "box" will hold its shape.

Does the pricing really just come down to the interior volume (flatbed will always be a roomier camper) and the "cool factor" of the flatbed? I'm a capitalist through and through so I have no problem if the pricing is simply "what the market will bear" but it seems kinda strange to me. Especially when you consider the extra costs of upfitting the truck with a flatbed before you even buy the camper!

Sorry, didn't mean to be a rant... just curious if anyone has seen any explanation for this phenomenom... or maybe some flatbed owners explaining why they were willing to pay more.
 
Armstrom,

DirtWhiskey hit the nail on the head, E.O.S. If your able and not willing to pay more like me, buy a new or used traditional TC, pull the bed, and build your own flat bed with extra storage or room. I sold the the truck beds in both of my examples pictured for $500+ each. This covered my material cost for steel, bolts, straps, P.T. Plywood, FRP, Doors etc. My labor / time was free. I opted for ( 4 ) under deck storage boxes on my latest project. ( $800 +/- ) Keep it simple. It's not about what you spend, but where you go...
 

Attachments

  • Loch Ewe for the night 2.jpg
    Loch Ewe for the night 2.jpg
    677.1 KB · Views: 73
  • Salt Hotel Bolivia.jpg
    Salt Hotel Bolivia.jpg
    243.2 KB · Views: 72

armstrom

New member
Thanks for the replies. I'm not so sure that I buy the economies of scale argument though. Maybe for a larger manufacturer like four wheel but usually economies of scale factors in more on material costs. The two types of campers use the exact same materials. And in the case of bison overland they are a very small outfit building ~2 campers at a time by hand with a small crew. It shouldn't make any difference to their operating costs if those campers are two slide-ins, two flatbed or one of each.

As for the "things cost money" comment... yes, thank you. FWIW, I work for a company designing and building products that cost as much as a small house but will fit in carry-on luggage. But when asked about the cost I can give a rough explanation on why such a small thing should cost so much. Most people come away thinking "well, I guess... but whoo... " and that's fine. People who need them are glad to pay the price. I would challenge any of these manufacturers to place these two camper shells side-by-side (slide in and flatbed) and walk me through why one costs $6-11k more than the other.

Oh well.. I'm guessing it really does all come down to the "boutique" factor. More people think "KOA" when they see slide-in vs people thinking "serious overlanding" when they see a flatbed camper. I see these types of "perceived value" differences used to justify big pricing disparities all the time... but usually across brands. People will pay more for a Rolex branded watch than an equivalent Seiko, despite both being very high quality watches made from good materials. I get that... but this situation with flatbed campers feels more like if Rolex made two watches that are identical in every way except one has larger numbers on the dial and they are charging 50% more for the larger number version. Sure, there's a practical advantage to that version.. especially if you have poor vision.. but does it REALLY justify a 50% price increase?

Capitalisim works well most of the time, but it doesn't always make sense :)
 
  • Love
Reactions: mog

JaSAn

Grumpy Old Man
I think you are confusing 'cost' with 'price'.
Unless a manufacturer has screwed up, cost sets the floor for price.
Price is set by demand, real or anticipated.
On new products its a guess.
In a free market price comes down to the seller trying to maximize profit (usually) or some other result the seller wants.
 

Victorian

Approved Vendor : Total Composites
I can only speak for our company Total Composites:

Our flatbed campers have more square Ft and are manufactured with internal components that prevent sagging and allows for mounting without external tie downs. The sidewalls have more square ft also and require the sourcing of bigger sheets of raw materials. The rear walls include internal structure to allow the end user to mount accessories on the outside. That in return increases the manufacturing costs.
 

armstrom

New member
Thanks for the details. The extra supports and larger sheet stock for raw materials make sense. I have been a follower of your facebook DIY page for years and in hind sight I should have pulled the trigger on a kit back when you still sold DIY "flat pack" kits. I understand the reason for going to an all dealer sales model but I have to say I was a little bummed :)
 

86scotty

Cynic
I can only speak for our company Total Composites:

Our flatbed campers have more square Ft and are manufactured with internal components that prevent sagging and allows for mounting without external tie downs. The sidewalls have more square ft also and require the sourcing of bigger sheets of raw materials. The rear walls include internal structure to allow the end user to mount accessories on the outside. That in return increases the manufacturing costs.

Makes sense. I would not have thought of that.
 

mog

Kodiak Buckaroo
Oh well.. I'm guessing it really does all come down to the "boutique" factor.
I think you have hit the nail on the head in both of your posts. Also in general the slide-in will be going on a zero extra cost 'included' bed, while the flatbed will be going on a bed that someone spent $4,000-$40,000 on. So if you just wrote Bowen a check for $42,400 (before power coating and tie-downs) for your total trick flatbed, that extra $6,000 added to your camper must seem like chump-change. :rolleyes:

Disclaimer- I have nothing against Bowen, I love their beds, and get a cool-factor fix every morning looking at their Instagram account
 
The other thing to consider is secondary purchaser.

If your a company that has a waitlist, there is a line of customers to buy a particular product. If you offer an option that 'alienates' 95% of your customer base it had better be worth your while. Meaning if I insert flatbed 003 into production of 22 slide in campers there had better be a buyer. If that buyer backs out I need to be able to cover costs (holding and opportunity) of that flatbed.

So I believe part of it may be an expense to cover opportunity costs associated with building a product on the margin of marketability. The majority of truckbed campers are not people on this forum exciting the virtues of a flatbed, they are putting on what ever fits on their latest truck. They are not specing out a particular flatbed to fit their niche camper.
 

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
I think you're ignoring the value/cost of square footage and over valuing the "boutique" factor. Flatbed campers are bigger. Have you been in one? No awkward galley kitchen, rear dinette, space for a real shower/toilet in most cases. My Northstar American Hero almost feels like a trailer inside. Larger tanks, bigger fridge, room for microwaves, way more storage, more room for more batteries. Many of these items are ordered in lower volumes then the slide in units, so no bulk discounts. You also have to train your staff to build a less in-demand unit. So they cost more. Also less units sold compared to bread and butter slide ins. That's the scarcity part. Building a flatbed to mount it on is expensive. Alas this is not a cheap sport. But somebody like Bundutec barely charges more for the flatbed units. Call those guys if you want to save a few sheckels.

Many flatbed camper owners typically are building to live in them or use them for extended periods. So many have higher end finishes and the little things that make it easier to live in. They are worth the money and people are willing to pay it. I mean I'm also seeing 80k slide in units out there.
 
Thanks for the replies. I'm not so sure that I buy the economies of scale argument though. Maybe for a larger manufacturer like four wheel but usually economies of scale factors in more on material costs. The two types of campers use the exact same materials. And in the case of bison overland they are a very small outfit building ~2 campers at a time by hand with a small crew. It shouldn't make any difference to their operating costs if those campers are two slide-ins, two flatbed or one of each.

As for the "things cost money" comment... yes, thank you. FWIW, I work for a company designing and building products that cost as much as a small house but will fit in carry-on luggage. But when asked about the cost I can give a rough explanation on why such a small thing should cost so much. Most people come away thinking "well, I guess... but whoo... " and that's fine. People who need them are glad to pay the price. I would challenge any of these manufacturers to place these two camper shells side-by-side (slide in and flatbed) and walk me through why one costs $6-11k more than the other.

Oh well.. I'm guessing it really does all come down to the "boutique" factor. More people think "KOA" when they see slide-in vs people thinking "serious overlanding" when they see a flatbed camper. I see these types of "perceived value" differences used to justify big pricing disparities all the time... but usually across brands. People will pay more for a Rolex branded watch than an equivalent Seiko, despite both being very high quality watches made from good materials. I get that... but this situation with flatbed campers feels more like if Rolex made two watches that are identical in every way except one has larger numbers on the dial and they are charging 50% more for the larger number version. Sure, there's a practical advantage to that version.. especially if you have poor vision.. but does it REALLY justify a 50% price increase?

Capitalisim works well most of the time, but it doesn't always make sense :)


Drew Here from Bison.

Flatbeds cost more from the get go. The cost to build is higher as they use more panel, and have more drop/scrap. Which costs money. They are usually longer. The labor and time to assemble is much longer as the panels are bigger and heavier. As Slide-In we can build by hand. It gets too risky with a Flatbed as the panels are larger and more prone to injury. In the end, the material cost is higher and the labor cost is higher.

I do understand on the outside how it looks, but it just works out that way.
 

Skinhyfish

Observer
I can only speak for our company Total Composites:

Our flatbed campers have more square Ft and are manufactured with internal components that prevent sagging and allows for mounting without external tie downs. The sidewalls have more square ft also and require the sourcing of bigger sheets of raw materials. The rear walls include internal structure to allow the end user to mount accessories on the outside. That in return increases the manufacturing costs.
Are you all designing a more slim roof lines like the Aterra yet? Angled in not boxy
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
Tough to say the markup is justified, but comparing a traditional TC to a flatbed TC, the space and comfort alone is worth the consideration. Built properly, the COG is lower and balance L-R and front-rear can be managed better.

Ours, well beyond the 10-year mark of being built, is proof positive for us.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_3831.jpeg
    6 MB · Views: 26

Forum statistics

Threads
185,853
Messages
2,878,916
Members
225,393
Latest member
jgrillz94
Top