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TheStreet Open House

$1M RV Is Built Like a Race Car, Equipped Like Your Mansion

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- RVs have long had a doddering, unhip and mostly unglamorous image in American pop culture -- think Randy Quaid's home on wheels in the classic Christmas Vacation, a creaking, rusty bucket of bolts that was an eyesore and punch line throughout the film.

The RV in the recently concluded Breaking Bad was an anonymous cube, perfect for hiding in plain sight for two meth makers. A full 25 years later in entertainment history, the RV is still a joke.

Harrison Ding and his firm, Global Caravan Technologies, are poised to forever change that image. 

They have developed the world's first carbon fiber RV (carbon fiber -- as in the material typically used to make race cars and yachts.) 

GCT's new RV prototype is quite possibly the most luxurious, technology-packed and sporty RV to be introduced to the public (at least since Bill Murray's heavily armed military recreational vehicle in Stripes). It's a cross between James Bond sleek and Diddy luxurious, and prices will top out at well more than $1 million.

Those willing to drop six figures get an RV with walk-through bathrooms outfitted like a luxury Manhattan apartment, including oversize shower, separate toilet and full-size washer and dryer.

The vehicles have plush, spacious lounges that comfortably sit seven to eight people on custom leather sofas. The lounges get one the vehicle's three folding smart TVs -- the others are outside so you can indulge in open-air entertaining and in the master bedroom (which also has a queen-size bed).

Also see: Personal Hovercraft Lets You Rise Above Gridlock (and Everything Else)

For the foodies and cooks there are stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, Kohler sinks and faucets, a full-size microwave/convection oven and expansive countertop space.

The RV is kitted with the same ultra leathers used in many super-yacht and private jet interiors, except in this case the leather is used not only on the furniture, but on the walls and ceiling.  

"We are positioning the CR-1 Carbon as what I would call a status-centered super luxury product," Ding says. "That's really [for] celebrities, sports stars, entrepreneurs and successful businessmen."

"We're also targeting the global emerging market, people who have a rapidly rising income and who have a desire for luxury and status," Ding says.

But luxury amenities are not what make this RV unique. Deluxe is nothing new to the RV market. This RV was designed by what Ding calls an unprecedented team of talent from various industries, and the results show up every aspect of the CR-1 Carbon's design.

The RVs windows were developed with the help of a global aerospace supplier. The vehicle's front, rear, and ceiling windows are all MagicView, a technology that allows for infinite variable control of privacy between total blackout and clear.

Other cool techie amenities include DryCamp, a completely off-grid power system, as well as MyControl, an iPad power management system that controls the entire RV wirelessly.

Also see: Time to Order Your Own Submarine -- If You've Got a Big Enough Yacht

"There have been many partners and team members, such as people from the Purdue University Motorsports Program, Indy car racing teams, design firms from Detroit," Ding says. "We pulled people together from aerospace, super yacht, motorsports, IT and automotive industries. At one point, we had about three to four Indy 500 champion technicians building the CR-1 Carbon."

The team also included Dallara, the world's largest producer of racing cars, one part of the team with experience in carbon fiber.

"When people think about carbon fiber, what comes to mind is a million-dollar race car or a $5 million carbon fiber super yacht, " Ding says. "Carbon fiber is an advanced material traditionally used in aerospace or high-end vehicles or super-yachts. The engineering advantage is that it is light. It is also five to 10 times stronger then steel -- but it's expensive, and the manufacturing costs often present a challenge."

In the case of the CR-1 Carbon, the use of carbon fiber means that instead of a 35-foot RV weighing the typical 10,000 pounds, it weighs between 6,000 to 7,000, Ding says.

Ding, who spent more than a dozen years at IBM in different global positions before developing the CR-1 Carbon, says his goal was to integrate as many new technologies and innovations into the vehicle as possible.

The RV went into design late last year and is in the prototype phase. Ding hopes to sell between 40 to 50 of the vehicles each year, with production starting officially late this year or in the first quarter of 2015.

"We developed this product with the vision that we were building a vacation on wheels," he says. "We're not really operating in the space of traditional RV companies. We're one of a kind, from price point to material we use to the manufacturing process -- we are quite different from an RV company."

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