RV Industry is Reaching New Fan Base

by Wendy on April 25, 2017

via The Economist

Early spring is the main selling season for recreational vehicles (RVs).

RVs are a quintessentially American invention: more than two-thirds are made in the United States. Nationally, sales surged to 430,000 units last year, a 40-year high. At the inexpensive end they sell for as little as $5,000 for a caravan; deluxe versions cost up to $1M and are typically equipped with a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom that are bigger than in many European flats. The share prices of Thor Industries, the biggest RV-manufacturer in America, and Winnebago, the third-largest, have risen by 43% and 17%, respectively, in the past year.

That is a big change. During the 2008-09 recession RV dealerships everywhere closed down. The current rebound is mostly owing to the economy’s recovery, but it also springs from the fact that new types of customer are embracing the lifestyle.

A decade ago the average age of an RV-owner was 49, and over 90% were white, says Kevin Broom of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), an industry body. That didn’t bode well for the future. But stereotypes are being dented. Anecdotal reports suggest that ethnic minorities now make up around a sixth of all new customers, says Mr Broom. The fastest-growing customer demographic is 35- to 44-year-olds. Another boost comes from affluent immigrants, who are keen to experience long, self-planned road trips in America.

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