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CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Axelrod made a stopover in Indiana’s Elkhart County Wednesday (Aug. 24) as part of his “Cross Country Price Patrol” series gauging the nation’s reaction to soaring gas prices. During his stay in Indiana, Axelrod met with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association President Dave Humphreys at the Monaco Coach Corp. facility in Wakarusa. The segment was the third in the weeklong series as Axelrod travels from coast to coast along I-80. The following is the transcript from Axelrod’s report in Indiana which aired Wednesday evening.
You think you’ve got a little pain at the pump? Try filling up a 100-gallon tank in an RV at $2.50, $2.60, $2.70 a gallon. You need a second mortgage just to take a summer vacation.
So, trouble for the RV business? Depends on who you talk to.
They couldn’t be happier in the recreational vehicle business – they being the people who make RVs. Sales last year were the best in more than a quarter-century. Record-high gas prices? What record-high gas prices?
“We see almost no effect of gas prices on the sales of RVs as amazing as that is,” said Humphreys.
Well, that depends on the definition of “no effect.” Yes, sales are still strong this year, but down 8% from a year ago.
“That’s not making me too happy,” RV owner Gary May says upon seeing the price for filling his vehicle.
Which would make sense to May. He sold his house in Michigan four years ago to drive the country in an RV.
“We got it for 99 cents,” May tells Axelrod of the cost of gas when he first bought his RV.
He and his wife, Janice, love the freedom, the convenience and believe it or not, they even love sharing the space with five kids. But, they hate the 100-gallon tank.
“I don’t need to see that bad news,” May quips as he declines to take the receipt for his gas purchase.
“You take a heart pill every time you fill up your tank with gas because it’s such a shock to you,” RV owner Sue Lantzer says.
Ask around an RV park in Elkhart and you’ll hear real concern that the leisurely hands of cards and relaxed afternoons of knitting are threatened by high-priced gas.
“I think it’s going to come to an end for a lot of people. Too expensive,” says camper Gene Johnson.
Maybe. Or perhaps it hasn’t reached the point of “either/or.” And there will still be plenty of people buying what RV makers are selling.
“You can cut back. You can use coupons at the grocery store. You can cut back on other things, but sometimes it’s important to get away,” explains RV owner Linda Klusendorf.
At this point, though, no one can dispute the growing popularity of this $14 billion business. Last year, e-Bay says its most popular search term was RV.