Discard your holiday sentiments and the stereotypical image of RV owners like “Cousin Eddie,” the back-woods, beer-swilling flatulence machine portrayed by Randy Quaid in the movie Christmas Vacation.
According to Forbes, here’s the new reality: Experience-craving millennials are helping fuel an unprecedented boom in sales of recreational vehicles, giving a cool sheen to the itinerant life, and getting the industry to believe that it can move past the wild volume cycles that almost put it out of business during the Great Recession.
RV sales have climbed by more than 15% in the U.S. each of the last two years, and 2017 is expected to be the year they finally broke the 500,000 mark for the first time. Share prices of the two leading publicly traded RV manufacturers, Thor Industries Inc. and Winnebago Industries Inc., have been hitting new record highs; a third big maker, Forest River Inc., is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
And RV makers have recently opened or are about to bring online at least 15 significant new facilities or expansions in northern Indiana, where the industry is headquartered, as well as in Iowa, Idaho, California and Oregon.