We're good, but we can learn a few lessons, too.

Don Cohen Don Cohen  |  09.22.2015

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.Interior Split ScreenA 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.


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  1. Lisa D Posted on 12.12.2015

    Good article. Yes and what’s up with black & gold bedspreads with tassels? There’s not a single person I know that would want that. Zero. And all I read about are complaints about decor all over the internet.

    They’re not listening and are pushing this on us because they’re so ensconced in it that they can’t think otherwise?

  2. Y Collins Posted on 10.07.2015

    I wold love to,see the RV market employ some of the sleeker, modern, and more clever storage designs I see on newer cruise ships. A design partnership with companies like IKEA Might also deliver a more streamlined interior design. I don’t get the formal drapes, crown molding and carpeting to name just a few things. Give me less trims and window coverings that rattle, telescoping technology on dining tables, and more accessible storage options, all while allowing my front passenger seat to recline, and ample hooks for coats, towels and gear. Sleek and well designed interiors would turn me into a buyer rather than an occasional renter.

  3. Terry Duffy Posted on 10.06.2015

    Most of the problems I have had with my RV (2009 Thor Four Winds Sprinter) are related to sub systems like the furnace, A/C, Generator, Hot water heater. It seems these suppliers have a lock on the industry and have done nothing to improve quality control or innovation. My atwood heater would come on by itself and the only way I could turn it off was to cut the power. It turned out there was a problem with the A/C that caused this. The Tech told me I needed to replace a circut board on the A/C. He then told me it was not longer available. So I was going to have to purchase a new A/C in order to get my heater to work. Now my RV is not that old. Why don’t they have parts available. The solution was to install a seperate thermostat for the heater. This is just one example. I could go on. I will be purchaseing a new Navion soon. I’m trying to get “Fantastic Vent” fans in the bath and main living area while it is being built. Not certain I can get this done. Love your articles. Very interesting and informative. One more. Go to the View/Navion Yahoo forum and see how many owner hate the Skylight/Roof option because of leaks, rattles etc. Winnebago requires it if you order the “cabover Front Bed”. They should offer the “Fantastic Vent” fan as an option. Terry Duffy