Why Are RVs From Some Manufacturers More Expensive?

While shopping for RVs, you may have noticed that different manufacturers can vary in price even for RVs in the same class or tier. You may want to know, Why do some RV manufacturers or brands cost more? 

With years of experience in the RV industry, we’re here to help it make more sense and help you understand what different manufacturers provide so you can make an informed decision when you buy an RV.

Why are RVs From Some Manufacturers More Expensive?

RVs from different manufacturers vary in price because of the individual quality control measures and inspections done before and/or after delivery. Each of these steps costs the manufacturer in time and labor, so these costs may be reflected in your purchase price. Only you can decide how important these different steps are to you and if you want to pay for them. 

As an example, Grand Design RV performs inspections throughout the manufacturing process and then another final inspection when the RV is complete; however, rather than shipping the camper to the dealer at this point, as some manufacturers do, Grand Design sends the unit to a pre-delivery inspection (known as PDI) where they do a 300+ point checklist to ensure the unit is a high enough quality for delivery to dealer. In 2022, Jayco also opened a facility to perform PDI for all its new units. 

These PDI facilities and processes add expense, time, and labor costs to the manufacturing process that can raise the price of an RV. On the other hand, you also may pay less long-term in service and time the RV is out of commission than if you had chosen an RV where you paid less up front.. 

But, it’s also important to ask:

Does Higher Price Always Equal Higher Quality? (Spoiler Alert: No!)

Buyer beware! While there are times a pricier RV is the best quality; you can’t always trust price to guarantee quality in an RV. 

For example, Jayco Jayflight travel trailers are a top-quality RV, but they are also priced very reasonably. Because this unit is a top-selling unit, Jayco can produce enough of them to get volume discounts on building materials from their vendors. These discounts cause the price to build a unit to drop without sacrificing quality. For this reason, when you’re RV shopping, asking about the “top selling” RVs for the class/tier you’re interested in can really help you find a great price on a top quality trailer. 

Manufacturers also have something called a BOM (Bill of Materials) which is every component, feature, and material used to construct an RV. When the BOM is the same across enough units, the manufacturer gets vendor discounts and those discounts are distributed to the buyer. Manufacturers who focus on higher volume buy their BOM in bulk, allowing them to lock in prices for longer periods of time without increasing the cost of the materials. 

While higher BOM volume decreases cost, the downside is it can possibly limit modernization of the RVs, since a manufacturer will either need to use up surplus supplies they’ve bought for less, rather than updating those materials, or else they’ll suffer a loss on the unused products. For example, if a manufacturer purchases 10,000 couches and that couch quickly goes out of style, or can’t fit in a new floorplan, the manufacturer is left with the remaining couches. 

Some manufacturers have invested in automation at their factories which improves their efficiency and quality control, driving the manufacturing and, ultimately, sales price, down—even as quality improves. Grand Design and Winnebago are leaders in automation; however, Thor Industries is investing heavily into automation in their factory. Thor has full-scale plans for the first automated, laminated side-wall factory, so look for better quality and lower prices from this manufacturer.

How Do RV List Prices Work?

As an RV buyer, you should be aware that manufacturers have different rules about the prices dealers can display for products advertised online. Grand Design and Winnebago products must be advertised online for MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price),

Alliance, Jayco and Keystone RVs have a set MAP (minimum advertised price), while Cherokee, Greywolf, Salem and Wildwood units have no pricing restrictions on dealers.

For these reasons, dealers may have RVs that list the price as “too low to show” or “inquire for price.” This seems like a sales gimmick, but it probably means the manufacturer won’t allow the dealer to list a price below MSRP or MAP price. The truth is, dealers would actually love to tell you the price, so don’t be afraid to click the button or reach out to the dealer for a better deal. 

Clicking the too low to show button will connect you with an RV Outfitter who can provide an even lower price.

There is a lot to consider when you’re buying an RV. Understanding how pricing for different manufacturers works is essential. If you have more questions or would like help finding the right RV for you, click the link below to work with one of our specialized RV outfitters. 

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