The RV industry is one of the most profitable industries in the United States. Recreational vehicles, or RVs, are a great way to travel and explore the country while still having all the comforts of home. From luxury coaches to tiny trailers, there’s something for everyone in this growing sector.
The RV industry is worth an estimated $140 billion a year. It’s estimated that over nine million Americans own RVs, and the number is growing every year. This growth has been spurred by increased interest in outdoor recreation and long-distance travel. Whether you’re interested in purchasing an RV, renting, or just exploring the industry’s trends and statistics, here are some interesting facts and trends about the RV industry that you need to know.
Unveiling the Data Behind RV Ownership: A Comprehensive Consumer Demographic Profile
There are an estimated 11 million US households that own an RV, representing a variety of ages and income levels. According to the latest data, a clear demographic dominates the industry.
The majority of RV owners vary based on the type of RV, but on average, they are aged 55+ (60%), followed by those aged 18-54 (40%). The increased adoption of RVs amid the pandemic is a global phenomenon, yet millennials have been particularly drawn to this newfound love for exploration. As such, RV sales and rentals have seen an impressive increase due to their enthusiasm and curiosity.
In June, the RV Industry Association reported that one in five Americans are more likely to travel by RV thanks to COVID-19, which has severely impacted air and sea routes. The highest rate of interest is notably from consumers aged 18-34.
Class B Motorhomes, or Camper Vans, as they’re popularly known, have shown an even greater surge in popularity, with younger RVers driving the trend. Class B recreational vehicles are predominantly owned by young families (42%), millennials and Gen-Zers (45%), first-time buyers (34%), and males making up the majority of owners with 66%. Most owners work full-time jobs, earning over $65,000 a year.
Age isn’t the only factor influencing RV ownership; gender also plays a role. Generally, it is more common for men to own RVs than women. This is especially true when looking at larger RV models such as motorhomes and fifth-wheels, where male owners make up a larger market share. Men comprise nearly 54% of Class A RV owners, while women follow at 46%.
Demographic data also reveals that RV owners tend to be as affluent as the average American. They typically have a median income of $62,000 per year, on par with an average 2021 national median of $67,521.
What Kind of RVs Are People Buying?
When it comes to RVs, there are many different types of RVs to choose from. Each type varies by demographic, but a few models stand out among the crowd.
People are buying Travel Trailers, 5th Wheels, Class C, and Class A motorhomes more often than other types. These four RV types made up most RV purchases in 2020. From luxury coaches to tiny trailers, there is something for everyone in this growing sector.
In terms of growth trends over the past two years, Class B motorhomes have seen the most significant increase in sales. This type of RV has attracted younger buyers that are looking for a smaller and more affordable way to explore outdoor recreation without sacrificing the comforts of home. Class B motorhomes grew in popularity during the pandemic as consumers sought ways to safely travel and take road trips while avoiding densely populated areas.
The different types of RVs also differ in terms of geographical preference. Each offers a different demographic of consumers who are drawn to the specific features, benefits, and offers they provide. Class A motorhomes are popular in the Midwest, while Class B RVs, or camper vans, find homes nationwide, especially with younger buyers and nomadic travelers.
The difference in types of RV owners, and the sheer number of recreational vehicles on the market, is helping to drive growth in the RV industry. With so many types of RVs available to fit any lifestyle or budget, there’s never been a better time to be an RV owner. Here’s an overview of the various types of RV.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are the largest type of RV and offer the most amenities. They usually have a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living area, and sometimes even an outdoor entertaining space. They tend to be the most expensive option but can provide the highest quality experience on road trips.
Class A motorhomes are typically around 30 to 40 feet long and resemble a bus with its vertical front windshield and ample windows. But that’s not all – these vehicles also boast multiple slideouts or full-length slideouts for added space and various storage compartments perfect for extended travels. With gas or diesel options, you can find a model with the power to tow your car or boat.
Class B Motorhomes
Class B motorhomes, or camper vans, are the smallest and most affordable type of RV. They typically have a kitchenette, sleeping area, and living space but are much smaller than Class A motorhomes. This makes them popular among young travelers or those who just want to get away for a weekend without spending too much money.
As their title implies, Camper Vans are constructed on a van chassis and can come with gas or diesel engines. They are agile enough to drive like an automobile, and some models even offer off-road equipment for those looking to venture into more remote areas. Their convenient size of between 20 and 25 feet in length allows you easily pass from your camping site straight into big city fun!
Class C Motorhomes
Class C motorhomes offer more space than Class B RVs but still fit within the budget of most RV buyers. They typically include a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space and can be as small or large as desired. They’re perfect for families looking to explore the outdoors without sacrificing any of the comforts of home.
Class C RVs have an iconic cabin-over design that gives them a unique look and provides extra space for beds or storage. They possess the same features as bigger Class A motorhomes, like kitchens and bathrooms with slideouts – just on a more compact scale! Moreover, their smaller size allows them to go places larger vehicles, like Class A RVs, can’t access.
Travel trailers are the most common type of RV and come in many different sizes and styles. They can range from a small teardrop trailer to a large fifth-wheel trailer that offers all the amenities of a larger Class A motorhome. Travel trailers are a great option for any camper, as they provide plenty of options for floor plans and styles.
Weighing from less than 4,000 lbs to over 10,000 lbs, these RVs offer an economic way into the RV lifestyle without breaking your wallet! They can be towed conveniently with either a bumper hitch or frame hitch that extends from their front.
The fifth-wheel trailer is similar to the travel trailer but is larger and offers more space and amenities. They typically include a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living area and are usually towed by a pickup truck or large SUV. Fifth-wheel trailers are popular among full-time RVers and people who like to camp in style.
Fifth-wheel campers are your ideal choice for the ultimate RV space and luxury. These towable RVs require a large pickup truck equipped with a special fifth-wheel hitch in its bed. This extra equipment allows for an elevated forward section which commonly houses bedrooms or living areas, making these rigs some of the roomiest due to their extended length and slideouts.
Teardrop Campers / Tiny Trailers
Teardrop campers are the smallest type of trailer, perfect for couples or solo travelers. They’re lightweight and easy to pull behind almost any vehicle, making them excellent for weekend getaways. The minimalist design offers a basic kitchenette, sleeping space, storage area, and occasionally an outdoor shower.
These tiny trailers are designed to be as lightweight and efficient as possible, with luxury features like air conditioning or slideouts being optional. They’re the perfect blend of convenience, affordability, and comfort for those who don’t need the extra space of a travel trailer or fifth wheel.
Pop-up Trailers & Toy Haulers
Pop-up or folding camping trailers are among the most affordable and lightweight options. These RVs are designed to fold down for towing, making them easy to store when not in use. They come with either hard-sided or canvas walls and range from basic models with little more than a bed to luxury versions that feature slideouts, kitchens, and bathrooms.
Pop-up trailers are an excellent choice for campers who don’t intend to spend too much time inside their RV. They offer a comfortable place to sleep after a long day of adventure with all the amenities that come with larger travel trailers but at a fraction of the cost.
Toy Haulers are similar to travel trailers but feature a garage for storing ATVs, dirt bikes, and other recreational toys. They come in both travel trailer and fifth-wheel styles and offer plenty of amenities like full kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas. Toy Haulers are the perfect RVs for adventure-seekers who need room to bring along tons of their outdoor toys. Motorcycles, dirt bikes, golf carts, and four-wheelers can easily fit in its large cargo area/garage, with specialized heavy-duty doors doubling as ramps ready to load your gear.
Why Do People Buy RVs?
Buying an RV is a big decision that requires careful consideration. But why do so many people choose to buy them? The main reason is that RVs offer the opportunity to travel and explore the country while still having all the comforts of home. RVing also allows families to create lasting memories and make spontaneous trips whenever they want.
People buy RVs for various reasons, but they all share the same sentiment—the freedom to enjoy your own adventures in your own way. RVs provide an affordable and convenient travel method for frequent travelers, a benefit for nomadic lifestyles, and a means of travel when many methods have been restricted or shut down.
Cost Effectiveness for Frequent Travelers
Frequent traveling across continental North America can be expensive, and the cost of plane tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms adds up quickly. An RV provides a more cost-effective way to travel as you have much less need for outside lodging costs.
With the average cost of a vacation that includes flights and other travel expenses totaling around $1558 for one person, buying an RV can be much more affordable in the long run, especially for couples or those with large families. The estimated price to purchase an average travel trailer can range from $10,000-$60,000, but for a family of four, that can equate to 2-3 vacations in just one year.
The Freedom of a Nomadic Lifestyle
RVs are becoming increasingly popular among people who want to live a nomadic lifestyle. The ease of travel and the ability to bring all your belongings with you allows people to explore different parts of the country without worrying about recurring lease payments or taking time off work. With the ability to work from home and the cost of a traditional mortgage skyrocketing due to the pandemic, more people are turning to RVing to live on their own terms.
RVing has also become a popular way for retirees to explore their interests and hobbies while still having a home base from which to return. From attending music festivals and visiting state parks to taking road trips around the country, RVing allows digital nomads and retirees to live life at their own pace without being tied down by a traditional home.
The Need for Travel During Restrictions
With many forms of transportation being limited or closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, RVs have become attractive for people who still want to travel. With the ability to practice social distancing and control the sanitization of their living space, people are using RVs as a safe way to explore different areas while still following health regulations. This is especially true for long-distance travelers who may need to cross state lines or even international borders and want some sense of control over their environment.
Alternative to Traditional Homes
RVing isn’t just for people looking to travel. Many people are now turning to RVs as an alternative to traditional homes due to the decreased cost of living and ease of maintenance. This can be especially attractive for younger generations who may not be ready to commit to a long-term mortgage or those who need more flexibility in their living arrangements.
During the one-year period from June 2021 to June 2022, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers experienced a remarkable surge of 9.1%. An over 9% increase in the cost of living is unsustainable for most people, making RVing a more affordable option.
RVing also offers more environmentally friendly options than traditional homes. With the ability to move easily and limit your power consumption, RVs allow you to live off-grid without sacrificing comfort. This can be a great option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying all the comforts of home.
The RV Market’s Economic Impact
With an economic output of $140 billion and hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, the American-made RV industry is a vital part of the US economy. To break this down further:
- Manufacturers and suppliers are responsible for generating a whopping $73.7 billion;
- Campground, travel, and associated activities make up approximately $35.7 million;
- Sales & service account for an additional staggering total of more than $30 million
With the RV industry making a strong economic impact, they also contribute an astonishing $13.6 billion in taxes to federal, state, and local governments each year. Manufacturers, suppliers, and campgrounds alike have seen a massive surge in sales and rental demand as more people explore the world of RVing.
RV Direct Wholesale & Manufacturing Stats
Shipments of RVs from manufacturers to dealers have increased substantially. Since 2010, RV shipments have increased year over year. In 2019, the total number of units shipped was 406,070, and this figure jumped nearly 48% in 2021 to 600,240 units, a record-breaking number for the industry.
The RV industry supplies nearly 680,000 jobs and provides over $48 Billion in labor income to the US economy. As the industry continues to grow, so does the demand for workers in sales, service, and manufacturing.
The RV industry is projected to continue to grow in the coming years as more people discover the freedom and flexibility of RVing. With the market expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.7% in the 2021-2028 period, the RV industry’s future looks bright.
RV Sales By State
State by state, RV sales are on the rise. From California to Florida, people are turning to RVs for their vacations and long-term living arrangements. The amount spent on RV sales and service varies by state.
According to TitleMax, In 2020, California topped the chart with $549.8 million spent on RV sales and services, followed closely by Texas ($424 million), Florida ($306 million), and New York ($225 million). Minnesota, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington rounded out the top ten states for RV spending in 2020.
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The Environmental Benefits and Impact of RVing
RVing isn’t just a great way to relax and explore; it also offers huge environmental benefits. RVs typically use much less electricity than traditional homes, allowing you to go off-grid if desired. This can be especially beneficial if you want to reduce your carbon footprint while still enjoying all the comforts of your home. Additionally, RVers have the option to use solar power and propane for their energy needs, both of which are renewable resources.
Renewable energy sources such as solar and propane can reduce emissions from power plants, helping to protect the environment. Additionally, RVing reduces waste by using fewer materials than traditional houses and reducing their impact on wildlife populations. Compared to traditional homes, RVs require less maintenance and produce far fewer emissions.
Carbon-intensive methods of travel, such as air travel, have a much bigger negative impact on the environment than RVing. Planes emit carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants into the atmosphere. RV travel, on the other hand, produces significantly fewer emissions. When traveling in your RV, there are also many other eco-friendly options, such as carpooling and utilizing campgrounds to reduce the amount of resources you use. Here are a few tips for increasing your sustainability when RVing:
- Bring reusable cups, plates, and utensils to avoid using disposable items.
- Make sure your RV has a waste tank for wastewater.
- Choose campgrounds that have recycling and composting options.
- Utilize solar power when possible such as camping off the grid or at RV parks with solar charging stations.
- Look for RV parks that offer activities that minimize water consumption and energy use, such as onsite gardens or low-flow toilets.
The RV industry has seen incredible success in recent years, with more people embracing the freedom of owning an RV. With a strong economic impact and environmental benefits, it’s no wonder why the RV industry is booming.
From state-by-state sales figures to direct wholesale and manufacturing stats, the RV market looks more vibrant than ever before. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced RV enthusiast, there are many reasons why the RV market is worth exploring. If you’re looking for a way to get out on the open road and explore, an RV might be the perfect fit.