The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) concluded its trade mission to China in Beijing on May 23 with members of the delegation enthusiastic about the progress made during the eight-day event.
“We were very pleased with the trade mission,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “I believe we accomplished much of what we set out to do. We increased our knowledge and understanding of the Chinese business culture and RV market, began to build relationships with key industry and government officials, and set the stage for further investigation on making China RV-friendly for our members.”
RVIA organized the trade mission along with the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of an industrywide effort to look outside the United States for market opportunities. In addition to Coon, RVIA was represented by Vice President and General Counsel Craig Kirby, Bruce Hopkins, vice president of standards and education, and Bill Baker, senior director of communications and publications.
Companies that sent representatives on the trade mission included Coachmen RV Co. and Jayco Inc., both of Middlebury, Ind.; Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Riverside, Calif.; Kampgrounds of America Inc., Billings, Mont.; GE Capital Solutions, Tampa, Fla.; Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, Minn.; Velvac Inc., New Berlin, Wis.; BRD Supply Inc., Bristol, Ind.; Airxcel Inc., Wichita, Kan.; United Shade LLC, Elkhart, Ind.; and Lippert Components Inc., Goshen, Ind.
“The mission met my expectations,” said David Coffin, director of product development for Fleetwood Enterprises. “It helped us better understand the trials and tribulations the Chinese RV market currently faces as well as grasp the potential it offers. I don’t really see another opportunity that could possibly double the size of our market in the future. It’s all about how the Chinese RV industry will be structured moving forward.”
RVIA’s Kirby noted: “In all of the meetings we attended with Chinese government and industry officials it was made clear to us that while they recognize their industry is in its infancy, they see tremendous market potential. There was also widespread agreement that removing barriers, such as the prohibition against towing on the highways, and developing campgrounds are key issues that need to be addressed in order for the industry to grow.”
The first leg of the trade mission centered around the 2008 China RV and Camping Show, held May 16-18 in Shanghai. There was also an RV forum with presentations and panel discussions featuring RVIA and Chinese RV and automotive officials as well as a meeting between RVIA and the Shanghai Automotive Trade Association.
During the second phase of the mission, the delegation of RVIA members and staff visited manufacturing facilities throughout China and met with government and industry officials.
This included a visit to Liyang, a resort area near Lake of Tianmu, on May 18-19 to meet with city officials, who are exploring building campgrounds. While in Liyang, the group visited several factories, including Zhong Ou, a Class B and Class C motorhome builder; System Equipment Company, a truck manufacturer that builds specialty vehicles; and Higer, a highline bus manufacturer whose chassis has been used to build luxury Class A motorhomes.
On May 20, the group traveled to Tianjin for a tour of the Centech facilities. Centech is an RVIA member that builds Class B and Class C motorhomes, travel trailers and specialty vehicles.
The mission concluded in Beijing with a tour of Great Wall Motors, a manufacturer of Class B and Class C motorhomes and specialty vehicles, as well as meetings with Chinese government officials on May 21 and May 22.