Article #1: Motorhome leisure doors – drivers side or passengers side?

Motorhome leisure doors – drivers side or passengers side?

11 August 2021

One topic that can get some seasoned motorhome customers quite animated is the question of the leisure door location on a motorhome, and whether this is on the drivers side (offside) or passenger side (onside). Around a decade ago when European motorhomes started making an appearance on NZ roads there were many concerned that this was ging to lead to many accidents, now over ten years later a quick survey of some of our main highways will show that this overall really is a non-issue.

Read on as we take a look at European motorhomes with offside doors and weigh up the pros, cons, safety and legality of these offside leisure doors.

Why do some motorhomes have an offside entry door?
You’ll see that many motorhomes imported from Europe have the leisure door (this is the entry door to the ‘home’ part of your motorhome) located on the drivers side. This is because the European manufacturers build their motorhomes to suit their own market. Whilst some European built motorhomes are exported to countries that drive on the left side of the road such as New Zealand and the UK, their primary market is the countries that drive on the right.

Only a third of countries drive on the left. You will find some European manufacturers go part way to meet the needs of the NZ market by building motorhomes on a right hand drive chassis so the driving position is on the right. However, changing the location of the leisure door adds a much greater level of complication. Since the UK and New Zealand markets are a small fraction of the customer base. Most manufacturers have decided against the considerable cost to produce motorhomes with the leisure door on the left hand side.

Habitation Door Orientation on Imported Motorhome Brands

With over 60% of sales Europe is by far the biggest market for motorhomes. Design and build of motorhomes with the leisure door onside is an expensive process. There are many complex changes required and it is not just a case of creating a mirror image and ‘flipping the layout’. The cost to convert European motorhome plans to suit the NZ market is an expensive one without the equivalent percentage of sales to meet the cost. Most manufacturers forego this option as the market is very competitive so there is reluctance to add these large costs to address the needs of a small market.

So are there any safety issues with an offside entry door?

We hear most commonly the concern about potential danger of stepping out into traffic when exiting the motorhome. We point out that this same hazard is in place The most common concern about offside habitation doors is the potential danger of stepping out into traffic when exiting the motorhome. The same issue exists in cars and the issue is successfully manageable. In our experience, larger motorhomes don’t often make stops on the roadside or shoulder due to their width. If there is a need to stop alongside the road, you can simply exit your motorhome using the passenger door in the front drivers cab area.

When European motorhomes first started making an appearance in New Zealand there was some degree of scepticism. However this essentially becomes a bit of a non-issue as the popularity of European motorhomes in New Zealand continues to climb.

Nevertheless, most motorhomers would agree that if you could have everything you want in a motorhome at a price point that you’re comfortable with, you’d probably choose to have an onside habitation door. A habitation door that exits to the curbside just removes a potential hazard.

Are motorhomes with an offside entry door legal in New Zealand?

The regulations which cover requirements for registering a new motorhome for use on New Zealand roads are for things such as seatbelts, driver licencing, maximum speed, stability control, Warrant of Fitness (WoF) or Certificate of Fitness (CoF) inspections, towing and road user charges. The regulations do not set out what side motorhome entry doors must be on, only that the safe maintenance of the motorhome entry doors are confirmed during a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) or Certificate of Fitness (CoF) inspection.

Weighing up the pros and cons of an offside entry door

The side that the habitation door is placed on is just one of the features motorhome buyers should consider when choosing a motorhome. However, deciding which motorhome you will purchase isn’t a straightforward process. It requires careful consideration of the features that are most important to you and those which you are willing to trade-off.

Our European manufacturers have built a reputation for innovation, functionality, and comfort. They use advanced materials and manufacturing methods and work out of a state of the art purpose built factory to complete their builds to the highest quality.

If you decide that an offside habitation door is not something you see as an issue, the most important safety measure is to avoid stopping on a roadside close to traffic. If a roadside stop is required, then simply exiting through the cab door on the passenger side is the safest option.

All drivers, whether their motorhome has an onside or offside habitation door, are responsible for the safety of their passengers.

As always, we are here to help, so come in for a chat!

From the team at RnRV


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