Man, I wouldn’t trade our American RV experience for anything. I like the options of products we can buy, the destinations we can go to, and the great road and camping infrastructure available to us all across the North American continent. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Attending the Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf definitely affirmed a couple of beliefs I’ve formed about the North American RV market over the past few years.
The first is that our domestic RV industry unwittingly perpetuates a vision of itself as somewhat of a downscale travel and lifestyle option. The money the industry puts into national aspirational advertising is completely disconnected from how it represents itself at RV trade shows. Touring through the Caravan Salon consistently made me feel like I was at a Lexus or Mercedes showroom compared to the American versions that feel like used car lots. As I observed buyers meeting with dealers, there was less of a sense of sales hustle than I’m used to at US shows. But make no mistake about it, the price points are very similar and the buyers looked to me to be squarely middle class, a tad younger, but equally as thoughtful and focused as their American counterparts as they carefully studied floorplans.
The second belief is that, in general, the American RV industry completely underestimates the US market’s thirst for sleek, modern interiors. Part of the problem is that the industry sits on top of a legacy of traditional interior finishes and cabinet design with all the fancy moldings and trims that go along with that. Collectively, the industry has so much invested in manufacturing processes and infrastructure that, for many, it seems like too much of a financial risk to change for what many see is a fashion risk.
Winnebago has proven that there’s a growing desire for Euro inspired design as their Travato, Era, Trend, View and Navion products have become hot sellers.
The industry in general seems stuck on the belief that the more opulent a coach, the more classy it’s perceived (yeah, I’m looking at you bathroom sink with fancy LED lighting around the rim!). There’s a fine line between classy and garish.A fancy Class A interior? Nope. It’s a mid-range Class C.
When we bought our first Navion, our investigation started with wanting a high-quality, fuel efficient chassis. What cinched the deal was a very modern, well designed, uncluttered interior. And, with the purchase of our 2015 Navion that modern look is even more compelling and a joy to wake up in every morning.
Yes, we’ve got it pretty darn good in American RV life. However, I think the industry would find new growth and new buyers if their interiors looked more to the future, than to the past.