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Among the toughest competitors that RV manufacturers and dealers face in the retail market is used RVs, particularly those sold by prior owners, according to the latest University of Michigan (UofM) study of the industry.
A record 6.9 million American households owned RVs when the survey was conducted during the first half of last year, but two-thirds of those households bought their RVs as used units, according to the study by the UofM’s Survey Research Center.
The study was sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), which represents RV manufacturers and their suppliers.
A total of 54% of the RV-owning households bought their RV as a used unit from an individual, not from an RV dealer’s used unit inventory, the UofM research determined.
The study also found that used RVs were, on average, 11.6 years old when they were purchased.
“While the long life of RVs certainly attests to their durability and enduring appeal to consumers, the large number of RVs still in use even after 20 years ultimately limits sales of new RVs,” wrote Dr. Richard Curtin, director of the UofM Survey Research Center. “Marketing strategies that emphasize newer features, designs and engineering of new units could help them compete with older units.
“Industry efforts to finally dispose of these older RVs would provide a welcome stimulus to new sales,” Curtin continued. “As it now stands, many consumers find the (lower) prices of used RVs too appealing to forego, but the purchase of such an older RV may limit their use by consumers and hence lessen their commitment to the RV lifestyle.”
Copies of the UofM study are available from the RVIA. Each RVIA member gets a complimentary copy and members can get additional copies for $45 each. For non-members, the cost is $60 plus shipping.
To order, call the RVIA’s Public Relations Department at (703) 620-6003, ext. 311.