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The RV Industry in Review

By Chelsea Gonzales

As we rounded the corner on 2024, many spent time reflecting on the year behind us and looking forward to the year ahead. While this means many different things for different people, for us here at National Vehicle, a big part of all this reminiscing and looking forward involves looking at what has happened in the RVing world over the course of the previous year while speculating on the new year.

Let’s take a quick look at the major changes that have happened in the world of RVing in 2023 and what we have learned from these shifts. (Much of this information translates into the need for more RV storage across the country!)

RV Sales Are Back to Normal

Most people who know anything at all about RVing are pretty well aware of the incredible explosion that the RV industry experienced during the pandemic. RV sales went through the roof in 2021, and this trend continued right through 2022. That said, sales dropped off significantly in 2023 and RV production is down by 47%. 

This shift means a lot of different things. For one, there are a lot more rigs sitting at dealerships than there were in 2021 and 2022. In turn, this increase in new RV availability has resulted in dropping prices. Though rigs are definitely not selling for pre-pandemic prices just yet, buying a new RV has become a bit more affordable than it was last year. This is great news for those looking to join the world of RVing!

All that said, unlike many may have predicted, the availability of used RVs has not increased tremendously. Sure, there are a few more used rigs out there, but a surprising number of people who bought rigs in 2021 and 2022 have chosen to hang onto their RVs. Because of this, the demand for used RVs is still relatively high, as are the prices of pre-owned motorhomes and trailers (though prices have dropped some, depending on where you are). 

Interest Rates Are Up 

One very big and very important change we’ve seen in the RV market in 2023? Rising interest rates. While many people were able to finance an RV for 4–5% in 2021 and 2022, those looking to buy in 2023 were looking at closer to 7–12% interest. This is a relatively large jump and could easily offset the lower prices we’ve seen for newer rigs for those who plan to finance.

The best ways around this? Shop around for RV loans, trying any banks and credit unions you have ties to before taking out a loan at the RV dealership. You could also choose to pay cash for your rig if you have enough set aside.

Working From an RV Offers Freedom

One thing that many learned during the pandemic is that working from an RV is totally doable. Not only that, but many employers figured out that allowing their employees the freedom to work from anywhere is not necessarily a bad thing, and in some cases may even contribute to more productivity!

For this reason, a large number of folks have been able to continue telecommuting even after offices have opened back up. The result? More and more people are working from their RVs, using their weekends and evenings to go exploring in new and interesting places. This is a trend that started a couple of years ago, but it’s still going strong even here at the end of 2023 and we have a feeling we won’t be seeing the end of it any time soon. 

We imagine the ability to work from anywhere has contributed to the fact that more young people are buying RVs than ever before. It is likely also the reason so many have been holding onto the RVs they purchased during the pandemic, and it is definitely why we are now seeing RV floor plans that include built-in offices—perfect for the telecommuting traveler. 

Cold Weather RVing Isn’t So Bad

Another thing that probably goes hand-in-hand with the work-from-RV trend is cold-weather camping. This is another interesting trend that has really taken off during 2023. According to KOA, there has been a 23% increase in interest in camping during the colder months. This has made a difference for many, as wintertime RV campsites are becoming more difficult to get, especially in warmer climates. 

It makes sense that more people would be embracing the cold and heading out in their RVs during the winter. If they are able to work from anywhere, there’s no real reason to save up vacation time and use it only when the weather is perfect, as they can have little getaways absolutely any time they please. Additionally, we’re betting a lot of those telecommuters have joined the full time RVing crowd, meaning they have no choice but to do some winter camping.

People Want Bigger Rigs

A trend that did surprise us a little was the decline in the popularity of pop-up campers. Pop-up camper sales are down by about 70%. Sure, RV sales are down across the board, but this decline is above and beyond the decline any other type of RV has seen this year. 

While we don’t know for sure what has caused pop-ups to lose popularity, we certainly can speculate. Our guess? As more and more people are traveling more regularly—or even full time—thanks to the ability to work from their rigs, they are feeling the need to have more space to spread out. Additionally, because more people are camping during the colder months, soft-sided campers are probably losing their appeal a bit. 

In short, soft-sided pop-up campers are great when you need something lightweight to spend the occasional short weekend in, but those who want to spend more time in their RVs all throughout the year are likely going to be looking for a larger hard-sided option to keep them comfortable wherever and whenever they choose to roam.

You Need to Snag Campsite Reservations Early

New RV sales may have dropped, but as mentioned earlier, RVing is NOT losing popularity. The result? RV parks are getting more crowded and it’s becoming much harder to fly by the seat of your pants. In fact, campsite reservations are way up.

According to Kampgrounds of America, more than half of their usual RV campers have made some reservations for 2024. That means KOA campgrounds are already filling up, and other private campgrounds (as well as the more popular state parks and national parks) are likely to follow suit.

If you wish to camp in 2024—and you absolutely should—we highly recommend making campground reservations now. This is especially important if you wish to visit a popular destination such as a theme park, national park, beach, or a town like Branson or Pigeon Forge where many people tend to flock for vacation. 

Eco-Friendly RVs the Wave of the Future

Eco-friendly RVs first started hitting the market several years back. That said, these “green” motorhomes and trailers are becoming more and more popular as the years go by. In 2023 we saw more eco-friendly rigs than ever before, and they are getting greener and greener with every passing year.

The biggest new thing in the eco-friendly RV world in 2023? The all-electric van released by Winnebago. The eRV2 may only be a prototype right now, but it’s sure to hit the market soon, and it is incredible. This thing uses an all-electric powertrain, meaning absolutely no fossil fuels are needed to get from point A to point B. On top of that, the RV interior is run entirely on lithium batteries which can be charged via the built-in solar charging system or by being plugged into an outlet. 

The eRV2 is the second all-electric RV to be released by a well-known RV brand. Last year, THOR announced a very similar vehicle, the THOR Vision. Our guess is that we are going to continue to see more amazing all-electric RV options hit the market in the coming years, making travel more earth-friendly than ever before. 

As you can see, a lot has changed in the RV industry in the last 12 months and we’re sure to see plenty more changing in the coming year. One thing is sure to stick around though; the incredible RVing community and their love for seeing the world via their homes-on-wheels. It’s this community that keeps the RV industry moving forward, and we love that these changes keep RVing relevant and exciting for further generations. 

A contributor to NationalVehicle.com, Chelsea Gonzales has been living in an RV and traveling with her family for seven years. During their time on the road, the family has toured the 48 contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada. 

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