A lot of motorhome and towable RV owners apparently don’t intend to let rising gas prices get in the way of their warm-weather road trips, according to the Associated Press.
For example, more than 17,000 RVs were sold in 2003 in Michigan, and industry officials expect at least a modest increase this year. About 320,000 were sold nationwide last year, and the industry earned record revenues of $12 billion.
“People are going to camp no matter what, and that’s all there is to it,” said Don Elde, a senior salesman at Hamilton’s RV in Saginaw County, Mich. “I’m having the best quarter that I can remember.”
There are RVs in nearly 7 million U.S. households, the highest number ever. Factory-to-dealer deliveries of new RVs are expected to exceed 330,000 in 2004, the most since 389,900 were shipped in 1978, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Matt Zechmeister, 63, of Saginaw County, said it costs him $250 to fill his motorhome’s tank with 150 gallons of diesel fuel. He told The Saginaw News he and many other RV enthusiasts don’t flinch at costly fuel prices because they have attained a dream.
“A lot of them are retired and have worked our entire lives to get to this point,” he said. “They want to enjoy life.”
The average age of an RV buyer is 49 today, and Elde said younger people are contributing increasingly to the market, particularly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks drew attention to potential dangers in air travel.
Also, baby boomers are getting older, nearing retirement and have more free time. Interest rates are low and some travelers remain wary of flying in an age of terrorism fears.
“We’re all talking about the baby boomers,” William Sheffer, director and show manager of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds in Okemos told the Lansing State Journal. “Their kids are grown up and they have more spending income now.”