May 8, 2012
Green Valley, AZ - Industy News from The Sahuarita Sun
The Sahuarita Sun
With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon and the nation still crawling out of a recession, you’d think most RV owners would have parked their rigs to save money and ride out the slump.
But while many are planning shorter trips and might not be buying higher-end recreational vehicles, the demand for RVs and campers was up in 2011, and is expected to head the same direction throughout 2012.
Charles Jenkins, president of the Green Valley Roadrunners RV Club, said his group has had to rethink travel itineraries but that “RV travel with Green Valley area residents has remained very popular.”
Established in 2005, the Roadrunners has 61 members and a fleet of 30 RVs.
“We have all kinds of RVs in the club, from 12-foot trailers to 42-foot motor homes,” Jenkins said. “This is a very active and enthusiastic group.”
In February 2012, RV manufacturers shipped 24,600 units, 24.2 percent more than the same month a year ago, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. RVIA represents RV manufacturers and parts suppliers who account for 98 percent of all RVs produced in the U.S.
Through the first two months of 2012, RV manufacturers shipped 43,300 units, an increase of 15.2 percent over the same period last year. RV shipments in 2012 are expected to total 265,200 units, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2011, according to Richard Curtin, an RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan.
According to Curtin, RV sales will benefit from stronger economic growth, increased job opportunities and easing consumer credit.
A good fit
Jenkins and his wife, Eva, are longtime RV fans.
“We started with a 15-foot travel trailer 35 years ago and paid about $600 for it,” he said.
They now own a 38-foot “diesel pusher” with a 90-gallon tank that they bought new in 2005 for $178,000. The Safari Cheetah made by Monaco gets about 10 miles per gallon.
“We have about 50,000 miles on it, and statistics tell us that the average RVer puts about 3,000 on their RV per year,” Jenkins said. “We aren’t extensive travelers, but we put on about 3,000 miles every year just going back to visit Oregon where we worked and have friends. Then we have side trips on top of that.”
Selecting the right vehicle “for your lifestyle” is what makes buyers cautious at first, RV owner Gil Fink said.
“Buy the best that you can afford,” his wife, Dee, added. “There are good prices on used RVs right now. Don’t buy brand new unless you can stomach the instant 25 percent depreciation the minute you drive it off the lot.”
Jenkins says his research shows people traveling by car spend about $251 per day when counting motel, eating out and gas. He figures his diesel pusher, even at 10 miles per gallon, costs him $201 per day, with eating in and sleeping at an RV park.
There is no doubt that the Roadrunners have been affected by the rise in diesel and gas prices though.
“We have planned shorter trips this year,” Jenkins said. “The Roadrunners had rallies in Tombstone, Phoenix, Yuma and Sierra Vista, although some of our members did go to Rocky Point.”
Next year the group is looking to go to Lake Havasu City, Silver City, N.M., Show Low-Pinetop and Carson City, Nev.
“We also try to have longer stays for each trip,” he added. “Every day in the same location means no money spent on fuel traveling. That make the cost-per-day very inexpensive.”
The Finks bought their 2001, 35-foot Class A Itasca Suncruiser in 2005 with about 32,000 miles on the odometer. Since then they have clocked another 6,000 miles.
“We plan our trips carefully and go as far as we can afford,” Gil said. “It doesn’t have to be expensive as long as you plan ahead.”
The Finks’ Suncruiser with two slide-outs gets about eight miles to the gallon and has a 75 gallon gas tank.
“Some RVers are downsizing in this economy going from large RVs to smaller rigs that get better miles per gallon,” Jenkins said. “And some RVs are staying parked as the owners wait for lower fuel costs, and who knows if that will ever happen.”
Kyle Williams is a senior graphic designer in marketing for Lazydays RV in Tucson, the company that last year acquired the RV campground, sales and service center previously operated by Beaudry RV Co. near Interstate 10 and Irvington Road in Tucson.
“We are based in Florida and are still getting used to this area, but sales have been good,” Williams said. “With the downturn in the housing market it’s had an effect on some people’s spending. The market in Tucson is different from the market in Florida. They sell a lot more luxury RVs in Florida right now. Here, about half of the RVs sold are luxury and the other half are less expensive RVs, but they still sell.”