Pandemic-weary Americans turn to RVs, which are being produced in record numbers



The RV industry is producing a record number of homes on wheels as pandemic-weary Americans answer the call of the open road.

Work-from-home policies, international travel restrictions and social distancing rules limiting crowds all have conspired to push up demand for the RV lifestyle.

In October, more recreational vehicles rolled off the factory floor and into dealerships than any other month in the history of the industry, according to a trade group.

“We were scared to death in March and April last year, but since the summer of 2020, the RV industry realized we’d be one of the winners of Covid-19,” said Mike Regan, president and general Manager of Crestview RV, which operates several dealerships in the Austin, Tex. metro area.

A record 57,971 RVs were produced in October, or 5 percent more than the previous record hit just the previous month in September. The October production figure is a 22 percent jump from RVs that rolled off the line the same month a year ago.

What’s more, the industry estimates that this year will see a 40 percent spike in the number of RVs produced — or 602,200 — compared to 2020 and 19 percent more than the last record in 2017, when the industry produced 504,600 RVs.

An RV driving along a lake or river.
Interest in RVs began to surge in the summer of 2020.
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Continued worries about virus transmission on planes — where masks are required and scenes of unruly passengers have become the norm — also have boosted the appeal of RVs.

“People see RVs as a safer way to travel and have said they want to spend more time outside,” Monika Geraci, a spokesperson for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, told The Post.

By another measure, 72 million Americans say they are planning an RV trip in the next year — up from 61 million a year ago, according to a November survey the trade group conducted.

A couple by the beach in front of their RV.
First-time RV buyers during the pandemic are using the vehicles to do more travel than the typical RV user, experts say.
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There are some 11.2 million U.S. households that own an RV up, 26 percent since 2011.

And minorities are fueling some of that growth, according to RVIA, which found that 13 percent of first-time RV owners in 2020 identified themselves as black — up from 6 percent over the past one-to-five years and 2 percent in 2014.

Similarly, Asian and Hispanic or Latino first-time RV owners have increased by 5 and 6 percent respectively, the group said.

A man lying down in his RV with the door open and his feet on display.
The most in-demand RVs cost between $50,000 and $60,000, according to a dealership owner.
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“We are seeing a lot of families buying RVs for the first time,” Regan said. “And many of them are using them more than the typical RV customer.”

Some customers are trading in older RVs for different models that will accommodate more travel, including families who have decided to home-school their kids on the road, Regan said.

The most popular price range is between $50,000 and $60,000 for an RV that can be towed by a pick-up truck, he said. That compares to self-powered motorhomes that can be priced well into the six figures.

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