Bruce Hopkins’ passport is filling up as he is shepherding several countries through the intricacies of establishing international standards compatible to those of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA).
As vice president of standards for the Reston, Va.-based trade organization, Hopkins has been to China eight times trying to educate the Chinese government as the country of 1.4 billion people deals with what has developed into a fledgling RV industry.
”We’ve been talking to the Chinese not so much about getting our standards put in place but to make sure that units produced in the United States don’t get locked out the country,” Hopkins said.
During his most recent trip to China in May, Hopkins was working on convincing the Chinese government of the rather basic concept that RVs are more than just commercial vehicles.
”They only have two categories for vehicles — personal and commercial,” Hopkins said. ”They don’t know what to do with an RV. I was trying to get RVs put into a separate category.
”On my last trip, I talked to the China standards committee. That was a huge deal.”
China is important to the RV industry, if for no other reason than RVing is becoming popular in the largest country in the world with more than four times the population as the United States.
And China is scheduled to host the 4th World RV Congress in 2017 or 2018.
Hopkins, by the way, was in the RVIA entourage that attended the 3rd World RV Conference in Australia in February.
”We are letting (China) know that we are here,” Hopkins said, noting that Forest River Inc., Jayco Inc. and Thor Industries Inc. and others sell RVs in China. ”Like it or not, China is going to get involved in RVs.”
There is a catch, however.
”The primary use of the American product is destination camping,” he said. ”Typically, they take an RV to a campground and people come to them because there aren’t many tow vehicles. If the general public is interested in touring, they usually buy European units because they have a lighter hitchweight.
”The Chinese government has just started standards-writing activities. They’ve given me a framework.”
Hopkins is doing the same thing in South Korea, which he also visited in May. ”In South Korea, we were evaluating the market,” he said. ”We hadn’t been there before. One of the things is that companies are shipping RVs to Korea, but emissions are a problem.”
And the United Nations is starting to develop globalized automotive standards. ”The RV industry is going to get caught up with (UN standards) and we’ve not kept up very well,” he said.
When interviewed Monday (June 22) via Skype, Hopkins was in Geneva, Switzerland, after adding another stamp in his passport. “I’m here to make acquaintance with people we can talk to at the U.N.,” Hopkins said.