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Manufacturing Expansions Show Strong Outlook
Since 2016, at least three dozen RV manufacturing locations have added or announced expanded plant capacity. While the top two manufacturers in the RV industry, Forest River (4 projects) and Thor (13 projects), account for the most activity, smaller companies, like nüCamp and RV Factory, have also made additions to their manufacturing square footage. While the expansions are intended to support production for a variety of products, the majority are aimed at travel trailer manufacturing. The construction projects are an indication of confidence in the extended outlook of the market.
Key Findings in the
Recreational Vehicles in the US Study:
A Healthy Economy Has Spurred Consumer Confidence and Expenditures
Since the Great Recession, during which demand for recreational vehicles fell sharply, the economy has been slowly improving, along with consumer spending. Interest rates remain low, keeping loans for large purchases relatively affordable. Moreover, home values continue to rise, giving consumers access to equity to support loans for RVs.
Travel Trailers Have Led the RV Industry Recovery and Will Continue to Do So Going Forward
Sales of travel trailers continue to grow, even surpassing pre-recession peaks. In 2017, unit sales of travel trailers were nearly 200% of 2007 levels. Travel trailers are favored for their variety of options, from luxury to low-cost entry-level versions, and from those that require a large truck to pull them to those that can be managed by most small automobiles. In general, trailers are preferred because, unlike motorhomes, they can be left behind at a campsite while the owner tours the area in a conventional automobile that can be parked anywhere. Current models appeal to a range of consumers – from those looking for a retro or European look or a functional vehicle that can haul their ATV or snowmobile, to long-term travelers and to those on a quick weekend getaway.
More Reasons to Own an RV and More Demographics to Own Them
The typical RV owner still falls in an older demographic – retirees and “snow birds” – but younger consumers are particularly motivated by lifestyle reasons including:
taking just the basics to escape the bustle of daily life
traveling with all of the comforts of home, including pets, while connected via Wi-Fi and electronic devices
living the “weekend warrior” lifestyle, tailgating at sporting events or concerts, camping, or taking motorcycles or other gear out for recreation
living and working full-time or for extended stretches on the road
This study presents historical data (2007, 2012, and 2017) and forecasts for 2022 by product (conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, class A motorhomes, class B motorhomes, class C motorhomes, folding camping trailers, truck campers) in units and US dollars, and by region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West) in US dollars. The study covers accessories for RVs sold in the aftermarket. In addition, it evaluates key industry players in the RV market and analyzes consumer survey data.
This study analyzes US demand for recreational vehicles by product and region. Additionally, the study analyzes aftermarket accessories for recreational vehicles.
The US RV industry is broken out into the following product segments:
campers and camping trailers
Travel trailers include conventional and fifth-wheel types. Motorhomes include class A, class B, and class C motorhomes. Campers and camping trailers include folding camping trailers and truck campers. These vehicles are designed to provide temporary living quarters for a variety of recreational, travel, camping, or other seasonal applications.
Aftermarket accessories for recreational vehicles, which include navigational and electronic systems as well as other components, are discussed separately.
Conversion vans, personal off-road vehicles (such as ATVs, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes) and manufactured housing for long-term residence (including park trailers and mobile homes) are not included in the scope of this study.
Demand for recreational vehicles is also segmented by the following US geographic regions and subregions:
Northeast (New England, Middle Atlantic)
Midwest (East North Central, West North Central)
South (South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central)
West (Mountain, Pacific)
Historical data for 2007, 2012, and 2017 and forecasts for 2022 are provided in current dollars (which are not adjusted to account for inflation) for demand, manufacturers’ shipments, and imports and exports for aggregate recreational vehicle products. Demand and current dollar shipment information is also given for each product classification at the manufacturers’ level (unless otherwise specified) and, for many key product categories, demand is also provided in unit terms.
Data provided for accessories reflects only those items that are sold separately to the consumer in the aftermarket. Factory-installed accessories or those included in a recreational vehicle package are considered with the RV.