February RV Industry Update

We know you’re busy and don’t always have time to research what’s going on in the RV world, but it can be hard to know the right time to buy and the right amount to pay for your RV when you don’t know the ins and outs of what’s happening in the RV industry.

We respect your time and know you’re busy. Josh the RV Nerd takes the time every month(ish!) to share what he’s learned and knows about RVs. Who better to learn from than someone who lives and breathes RVs and RVing? 

Here you’ll learn what has happened over the last couple months and what you can expect to see down the road. Knowing what to expect and what’s going on with different manufacturers and the overall economy can help you make the right decision for yourself. 

Vanleigh Shuts Their Doors For Good

Vanleigh is the luxury 5th wheel division of Tiffin (acquired by Thor in 2020). In January Tiffin announced they’ll close Vanleigh for good. The company is shifting away from towable RVs to focus on their more profitable motorized RV lines. 

Tiffin may be changing directions, but it’s also showing loyalty to its employees and customers. Employees’ last day will be March 10, 2023, but Tiffin will work with displaced employees to help them find new jobs.

When a brand closes their warranties usually become invalid. Tiffin, however, absorbed Vanleigh’s warranties and will continue to honor them.

Very classy, Tiffin!

RV Industry Economics

The RV industry is an $862 billion industry. It employs 4.5 million people and makes up 1.9% of the US GDP.

RVing may have once been a quaint, hobby market, but not anymore. The industry has gone mainstream with more and more younger people showing an interest. Millennials (born 1981 – 1996) are the largest RV consumer group and Gen Z (born 1997-2010) is quickly joining in. The future of RVing is strong.

With more people becoming interested in RVing, RV industry associations are gaining lobbying power to push for positive changes. Which leads us to . . . 

RVing and Camping Gets the Government’s Attention

RVing and other outdoor activities grew 24% in Masschusetts in 2022. The state responded by creating an office of outdoor recreation; they’re the 18th state to do so.

This office looks after campground development, park repair and maintenance. They’ll also oversee improving outdoor facilities. All great news for RVers!

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) is also lobbying to get funding dedicated to E-RV infrastructure. RVIA is asking governments to look ahead to the future E-RV industry. RVs will need larger charging stations since current stations serve passenger vehicles only.

E-RVing may not be here yet, but the Federal Highway Commission is taking note, saying they will consider future E-RVs in their development.

Cummins Decides “If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em”

Several states, including California, have threatened a near ban on internal combustion engines by 2035. This ban would include gas generators. 

Cummins, a leading supplier of RV generators originally responded by threatening to stop selling generators to these states. Now Cummins is changing course. They’re committing to create generators that meet or exceed government regulations related to emissions.

A lot of the states placing bans are popular for RVers who want to boondock or RV off-grid. Cummins’ generators could protect these RV lifestyles in these states.

Hats off to Cummins for dedicating themselves to find a way to keep campers camping the way they prefer!

Omnibus Gives Boost to National Park Service

In December 2022 the Senate voted for a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill. This bill includes a big funding bump for National Parks Services. The goal will be to revitalize and repair some parks that have fallen into disrepair. 

A quick overview:

  • Millions approved for campground related initiatives, rehabilitation, and deferred maintenance projects.
  • Tens of millions to support national park roads and bridges.
  • 1.5 billion set aside for potential disaster relief in the parks. This will be helpful should something like the Yellowstone flooding happens again. 
  • Extension of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. This allows public lands to collect more campground/entrance fees to fund future maintenance. 

This shows even more recognition for the outdoor lifestyle and its importance to Americans.

Have You Booked Your RV Campsite Yet?

Yes, more Americans are spending time and money on outdoor recreation. 67 million people expressed interest in RVing this year. This is up 14% from last year! 

This comes as a surprise to many who expected interest in RVing to die down after Covid restrictions eased. Turns out, the newcomers are hooked! 

According to a recent survey by RVIA, 37% of leisure travelers plan to take an RV trip this year. Many see RV camping as a less expensive way to vacation. Aside from the payments on their RV, RVing is 50% cheaper than a plane/hotel trip and ⅓ the cost of a car/hotel excursion. 35% of Millennial and 41% of Gen Zers who responded to the survey say they intend to buy an RV this year.

Campground congestion is already an issue. With even more interest in RVing you can expect this problem to increase. But all is not lost! The silver lining is the growing interest makes the voice of the RV industry louder and allows industry associations to push for improvements. We especially hope to see government permits streamlined so more campgrounds can be built and built faster.

Thinking of a new career?  RV Technicians Are in High Demand

The RV industry is growing by leaps and bounds. This means the need for quality, certified RV techs is higher than ever. RV Technical Institute (RVTI) is meeting that need by recruiting students to their RV Tech Certification program. They’re recruiting students from all walks of life and work experience.

RVTI set a goal to recruit 1,000 new students to the program in 2022. They exceeded their goal by 10%! They hope to meet or beat this goal again in 2023.
RVTI also offers continuing education to RV techs who are already employed. In 2022 RVTI had the first ever all female class from this program. Partnering with RV Women’s Alliance, RVTI will continue this program in 2023. They are looking for women, with or without experience with RVs, to attend workshops held across the country to get an RV technician certification.

RV Shows Are Busier Than Ever

Some RV shows are setting attendance records! The show circuit is stronger than ever. Sales at many shows are higher than previously expected. Many expected sales to drop from last year’s Covid-fueled market. Sales are especially high for new 2022 models. Dealers have been offering deep discounts on these models to make room for 2023 RVs. 

RV Manufacturing Picking Up Steam in Feb

We expect more RV manufacturers will get their production up and running in February. The seasonal slow down of RV manufacturing over the holidays is nothing new. What was new this year was:

  • Some manufacturers took more time off this year than they have in the past (up to 2 months rather than a week or 2).
  • Some are producing at a reduced rate to previous years.
  • Some are producing at 0 rate.

High show sales and lower production numbers may leave less inventory on the lots. Especially during the first quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. Josh the RV Nerd expects the following three quarters to normalize into pre-Covid inventory and sales numbers.

More RVers are adopting mobile work lifestyles, but they need internet access to make it possible. Thor Industries has heard the requests and will be the first manufacturer to integrate Starlink hardware. They’ll inclide Starlink setups or prep for setups (it’s not completely clear what it will look like just yet), into some of their newer RVs. 

For now this will become availabe in their high-end, premium products. Think Airstream towables and high-end motorized RVs like Entegra, Jayco, and Tiffin coaches.  

$7 Gas in 2023?

RVers were shocked by a GasBuddy press release on Dec 28, 2022 saying gas prices could rise to $7/gal by summer. 

Is this true? Yes and no.

You don’t need to cancel your summer plans just yet! 

Yes, GasBuddy expects $7/gal gas in specific areas. Especially in expensive, high population areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles. But, GasBuddy also predicts the cost of gas nationwide will likely be down approximately 10% from last year. 

Overall, if you were able to pull your RV last year, it looks like you’ll be able to pull it again this year. 

If you use diesel fuel, you’re probably feeling the pain at the pump. By the end of the year we hope to see prices drop around 17%. 

Pro Tip: Always read the whole article.

Shell Oil Buys EV Charging Company

Shell USA Inc. signed an agreement to buy 100% of remaining Class A common shares of Volta Inc. Volta Inc. is one of the largest electric vehicle charging stations in Europe and the US. Shell is now the first oil company with a vested interest in our country’s electric charging infrastructure.

Volta ranked second, after Tesla, in customer satisfaction for Level 2 chargers. Volta has more than 3,000 charging stations throughout the US. 

Shell purchasing Volta is an interesting move for a major oil company. With money from the oil industry to invest in electric, we could see major changes in EV development and support. Is the future of oil in EV?

The average price of a towable RV dropped about 8% from last month.  

  • That’s now about 9% less per unit than the same time last year 
  • Average Unit Age was a 2016 Model (7 model years old) 

(These figures represent wholesale auction values for RV dealers buying used units.)
Josh the RV Nerd believes prices are down because dealerships are seeking an affordble option for consumers who were unable to meet the price spike the industry experienced over the last two years.

Motorized RV values rose a little over 10%.  

  • BUT… the average age of unit purchased was a bit newer 
  • Still lower vs last year by about about 15%

For even more information check out Josh’s February Industry Update: 

Now What?

An RV is a big investment and we know how much thought and time you dedicate to deciding when to buy an RV and what you can pay for it. Sharing so much industry information doesn’t always benefit our bottom line at Bish’s RV. But, however it affects us, you deserve to have all the information you need to make the right decision for you. This is why we provide industry updates with our best understanding of what’s going on and what we see coming down the road. 

Josh the RV Nerd puts together a video summary of everything you need to know about RVs every month or so. Follo this RV Update playlist for more helpful updates

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