Why TerraGlide Is Putting Car Technology Under Caravans

Premcar TerraGlide Caravan Suspension

Why TerraGlide Is Putting Car Technology Under Caravans

Premcar is spreading its carmaking know-how.

Australians love caravans and RVs (recreational vehicles.) Drive any local highway during a holiday or long weekend and the proof is everywhere.

They’re a great way to see all 7.6 million square kilometres of Australia.

Want to reach the country’s furthest coastlines or discover the outback? There are ‘vans for these.

Love off-road driving? Retro-style camping? Running a mobile food van business? More-than 200 local manufacturers and an array of importers have you covered.

Official numbers confirm our love for the big road trip. Caravan park occupancy rates are rising and figures from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia show local ‘van production rose 17.1 per cent in 2022, contributing heavily to $10.45 billion in industry earnings that year – 42 percent higher than the year prior.

These are serious numbers, but other serious topics have emerged from this booming industry.

Four-wheel drive SUVs and dual-cab utes have become popular towing vehicles for large caravans and mobile campers. Often fitted with aftermarket accessories such as bull bars, canopies and fridges, vehicle overloading issues have emerged as safety risks.

There have also been calls for greater driver education and licencing requirements for towing caravans and heavy trailers.

These are obvious driver education opportunities. There are also some hardware opportunities. Two of Premcar’s leading engineers spotted them, did their research and got to work.

“The most popular 4×4 SUVs and dual-cab utes can often weigh as much – or even less – than the dual-axle caravans and campers they tow,” said Andrew Lynch, the Head of Engineering for Vehicle Integration at Australian new-vehicle manufacturing firm Premcar. He’s the co-founder of Australian suspension brand TerraGlide, a company he established with Josh Wood, Premcar’s Head of Engineering for Design and Development.

“It makes sense that the heavy vehicle being towed should at least share the suspension and dynamic qualities of the current-day vehicle towing it.”

Having worked on the new-vehicle engineering development of a number of these SUVs and dual cab utes, as well as many more suspension systems and vehicle platforms for similar new vehicles sold overseas, they knew what was needed.

“We’ve simply applied new-car engineering and manufacturing principles to trailer suspension.”

As with any modern-day car, the mechanical design, engineering and component quality underneath a caravan or heavy trailer can have significant effects on its durability, performance and safety.

After all, just like the vehicle towing it, a caravan’s tyres are the only things that connect it to the road – and the only thing controlling the behaviour these wheels and tyres is the suspension system.

It’s why TerraGlide has applied long-standing car industry componentry, principles and processes to its award-winning off-road trailer suspension design.

The hardware is similar to what you’d find in a current-day 4×4 dual-cab ute:

  • A unique semi-trailing arm independent suspension layout
  • Australian-developed high-performance suspension dampers uniquely engineered for superior handling, control and safety in all terrain types
  • Advanced sealed dual-row roller bearings by SKF®, which deliver superior quality and reliability
  • Lifetime maintenance-free automotive-grade durable suspension bushes which require no regular upkeep or greasing
  • Class-leading 230 mm of wheel travel, which is ideal for especially rough terrain
  • An anti-roll bar on each axle to maximise ride comfort while controlling roll stiffness
  • Engineered jounce bumpers which deliver progressive wheel deceleration during large impacts, reducing shock loads into the caravan’s chassis and body

As with any new-vehicle design, TerraGlide has engineered everything to work as a system to reach performance, durability and safety targets.

Chassis telemetry recordings show the design’s effectiveness. Vibration frequency measurements in caravans during testing show how much the design isolates impact shocks and harshness.

Much of this was achieved with 14 months of local testing throughout Australia, which included extensive proving ground programs.

Premcar TerraGlide Caravan Suspension
TerraGlide’s TG-X-1 coil suspension.

Underpinning it all were long-standing new-car design processes.

For example, the suspension geometry was optimised using advanced MSC Adams multi-body dynamics virtual engineering software. This is the same computer-aided engineering program global carmakers use to develop new vehicles.

FEA (finite elemental analysis) computational stress and load modelling was used extensively to create the suspension components.

And the result? A world-class trailer suspension system for the roughest terrain.

Its ability to isolate and manage suspension loads like a new vehicle can mean less wear and breakage to the ‘van’s body and internal fit-out, a welcome outcome for consumers and manufacturers.

And the suspension’s ability to manage a caravan’s movements and steering characteristics can make the task of towing simpler.

Then there are its off-road abilities. TerraGlide’s capacity to navigate Australia’s roughest terrain was quickly acknowledged with a major gong by leading publication caravancampingsales.com.au. In its first year on sale, TerraGlide’s TG-X-1 suspension won Best New Technology in its Innovation Awards.

“We were thrilled to get the phone call,” said Andrew. “It’s high praise. It’s a serious acknowledgement of the OEM new-car design, engineering and manufacturing we’ve brought to the caravan industry.”

It’s not the first time Premcar has applied its decades of OEM car-making know-how to other industries. We also work in defence and aerospace.

But TerraGlide is another natural extension of the new-car development and engineering work we do, and the greatest beneficiaries are Australian caravan buyers and manufacturers.

The twin-axle TerraGlide TG-X-1 suspension units – available with either steel coil springs or  airbags – are manufactured at Premcar in Epping, just outside Melbourne.

Premcar TerraGlide Caravan Suspension
TerraGlide’s TG-X-1 airbag suspension.

They can be ordered for fitment to new caravans by a growing number of Australian caravan manufacturers. Just ask for TerraGlide suspension when you place your order.

Plans for a retro-fitment program (for existing caravans) are underway. Details will be announced in the future.

In the meantime, think about this:

If you’re paying $80,000 or more for a new SUV or dual cab ute, then you should expect similar on-road engineering and performance from your caravan, especially if it costs the same, or more.

Choose Australian car-making know-how when you order your caravan. Ask for TerraGlide.


Bernie Quinn – Engineering Director, Premcar Pty Ltd


About Premcar:

Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. Premcar’s body of work is extensive. It is the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines. The company has delivered technical advancements and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit premcar.au.

Follow Premcar on Instagram – @premcaraustralia

Follow Premcar on LinkedIn – @Premcar Pty Ltd

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