The following is a transcript from an interview with Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon conducted by Campbell Brown of NBC News on last weekend’s “Saturday Today” show.
BROWN: Let me ask you. It takes about 100 gallons to fill up the average RV. So you hear that and you think that a lot of RVers might think about skipping their summer road trip. But you say that’s not the case. Why – how come?
COON: Yeah, that’s not the case, interestingly enough. Well, I think partially the reason is they’ve been planning their vacations or their weekends all winter. And it’s pretty hard to have an American to stop going camping during the summer. So they adjust their schedules and their budgets to accommodate the extra fuel pricing. What they usually do is instead of taking longer trips, they’ll go into shorter locations, shorter campgrounds, and instead of staying or for short periods of time, they’ll stay longer in the campgrounds.
BROWN: And you’ve been surveying a lot of your people, I know, to try to get – to gather this information. And you’re actually making the case that given increasing airfare prices and hotel costs, that it may be a bargain comparatively.
COON: That’s correct. You know, unfortunately, fuel going up affects all sorts of travel, whether it’s RVing or air travel or taking a train, quite frankly. So it’s all relative. And we find that still RVing is one of the least expensive ways to take a vacation still.
BROWN: So, Richard, how do you answer critics out there who say RVs that get something like 10 miles to the gallon are actually adding to our problems, to the energy crunch?
COON: Well, I think what you find is sometimes that’s not true. The products that we produce in the industry have a variety of fuel economy. For an example, if you look at this unit right back behind me here. That product currently gets 18 to 20 miles per gallon. It has a diesel engine in it and is pretty fuel efficient. So it depends on the type of product you’re talking about.
BROWN: So, Richard, I was reading there something like eight million RVs on the road right now. And the last three years have been record-breaking sales for the RV industry and automakers. How do you explain this sort of renewed popularity?
COON: Well, I think what we’re finding most recently is the younger generation is becoming more and more interested in RVing. I think they find the quality of the life of RVing, being able to get with their families and have quality time, is very valuable to the younger generation. And we’re talking about folks that are 35 years and under in age. You know, traditionally RVing has been thought of as kind of an older folks kind of vacation. Most people think that you retire, get an RV and see America. But that is still very true, but also there’s more popularity in the younger group coming into the marketplace.