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Michigan is emerging as one of the top states with regard to recreational vehicle sales.
The Lansing State Journal reported that 13,973 RVs were sold last year, placing Michigan in the fourth spot nationally behind California, Texas and Florida.
And things are looking even better for RV sales in Michigan this year, said Bill Sheffer, director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles & Campgrounds (MARVC).
“Last year was a banner year for Michigan, and this year is looking better yet,” he said.
The following is a question and answer feature with Sheffer, published today (June 26) in the Lansing paper.
LSJ: How have RV sales been lately?
Sheffer: “It’s surprisingly strong, especially for towables. There’s been some weakness in motorized RVs (motorhomes). People have been somewhat hesitant about purchasing because of gas prices.
LSJ: How is the industry adapting to more expensive gasoline and diesel?
Sheffer: Big motorhomes get 8 to 10 miles per gallon, but other classes of motorhomes are more fuel efficient. Some are adopting diesel engines or working toward better fuel economy. There are some Class B RVs (van campers) that get 18 to 20 miles per gallon.
LSJ: With higher fuel prices, is there an economic case to be made for RVing?
Sheffer: People aren’t driving these back and forth to work every day. Maybe people are going to campgrounds closer to home and staying in one place longer. Another thing to consider is that when you’re RVing, you’re not paying for a hotel or restaurant meals, and that really adds up.
LSJ: A lot of General Motors Corp. workers are getting early retirement and buyout bonuses. What will that do to the industry?
Sheffer: If you look at who those people are, they are our customers. People in their early retirement years like to get on the open road and travel. These are the type of people who are looking at RV life.
LSJ: What’s the forecast for your industry?
Sheffer: Campground reservations are up over last year. There are 256,000 registered RVs in Michigan and we think that number has been growing. Even though (unit) sales were down a little last year, this year is looking better. (Through April) the number of units shipped is up 12.8% nationally over last year.