Just as a campfire invites folks to gather around for stories and warmth, the rise in RV and camper ownership has sparked a surge of interest in mobile living.

As part of these evolving RV trends, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and adaptations in the industry, including technology and environmentally friendly practices, to gauge what’s the best recreational vehicle for you and your family as they prepare for an epic trip, whether to one of the many magnificent RV destinations like a national park or just a nice RV park near you.

We’ll see what’s driving these changes, what are the standout features and brands making waves, and, perhaps most intriguingly, where this is all heading.
Let’s embark on this journey of discovery to find out.

Typical Market Profile of Current RV Owners

The RV Industry Association has compiled one of the most comprehensive studies on RV ownership ever, and it reveals some key insights into the state of the market and the average owners that are moving forward. 

Often, the typical RV owner is a travel enthusiast in their mid-40s, but overall ownership is split almost evenly between those above the age of 55 and those below. Owners have a passion for exploring the open road and enjoying the flexibility and comfort that RVs provide.

Nonetheless, industry trends show that RV ownership is extending beyond this group. The RV industry has seen growth among younger and older demographics, with 18-to-34-year-olds now making up 22% of current owners. In fact, among current owners, an astonishing 84% of Millennials and Gen Zers are the ones with plans to buy another RV, and almost all of them prefer to buy new, not used. 

The stats for first-time RV owners are also impressive, with almost 31% of current owners being first-timers in the last couple of years, underscoring the recent boom in popularity for RVs.

But don’t worry; this doesn’t mean the industry is losing its core. It’s simply expanding, evolving, and offering more opportunities for people like you to hit the road.

Interestingly, the industry has responded to this shift with innovative designs and technologies that appeal to a broader audience. From solar panels and EVs to Wi-Fi boosters, these additions are making RVs more appealing and accessible.

Overview of RV and Camper Sales and Growth Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

To start with an overview of the market, we need to put the last couple of years into context first. RV ownership has grown over 62% in the last 20 years, with almost 12 million households having one. 

But the industry’s recent pivot was in 2020 during the pandemic. 

In 2020 alone, there was a 6.0% increase in RV shipments, according to the RV Industry Association, reflecting a growing desire for freedom and flexibility in how we travel after the COVID-19 pandemic. After an initial drop in sales during the lockdowns, people went out in droves to buy RVs and travel in them as a means to escape having to be at home and not being able to travel normally by plane or stay at hotels.

By December 2020, towable RV sales, for example, saw an incredible increase of 48.1% from the same month in 2019. For motorhomes, that statistics was 35.3%!

For 2021 recreational vehicle shipments in the United States kept growing by 30% compared to 2020, according to Mordor Intelligence. This surge in demand was a lifeline for many, especially big players like Thor Industries and towns like Elkhart, Indiana, where a staggering 80% of recreational vehicles are produced in the U.S.

So, there was definitely a surge in sales of RVs after the pandemic hit, and it continued into 2021, but what’s happening now as we enter a period of recovery? 

Cooling of Post-Pandemic Boom and Recovery Heading Into 2024

After sky-high growth experienced by the RV and camper industry, things cooled a bit and came back down to Earth in 2023. 

With 2022 and the start of 2023 also seeing high inflation and gas prices, RV sales came down 16% across both towable and motorized RVs.

But that doesn’t mean the growth is done and bad times are ahead; far from it. The spirit of adventure on a motorhome isn’t going anywhere. For 2024, the size of the recreational vehicle market is estimated to be $33.23 billion, growing to almost $50 billion by 2030. Its economic impact is even larger, contributing upwards of $140 billion to the United States economy and $4.8 to the Canadian one.

Another sign of the industry’s continued health and potency is the number of public and private camping facilities that are open and are expected to open in the country, with demand for campsites still breaking records thanks to the growing popularity of RV and camping life among younger generations.

The industry’s resilience will ensure you’ll always have the freedom to explore, to escape, to live life on your own terms.

Most Popular RV Brands

Now, let’s get a closer look at the big winners in this RV boom, starting with an overview of the most popular RV brands and their sales growth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Winnebago Industries

A classic name in the RV world, Winnebago Industries saw a significant surge in sales, capturing a larger market share. High-quality build and reasonable prices have kept owners coming back to Winnebago. 

  • Forest River Inc.

Known for their exceptional craftsmanship, innovative designs, and attention to detail, Forest River Inc.’s RVs provide a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience for both adventurous travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

  • Airstream

Known for their iconic silver-bullet trailers, Airstream’s sales skyrocketed as folks sought freedom on the open road. Airstream’s loyal owners appreciate the brand’s commitment to luxury and style.

  • Thor Industries

Thor’s diverse range of models appeals to a wide audience, propelling them to become one of the most popular RV brands. The company’s growth has been fueled by competitive pricing and strategic market positioning. They have also been at the forefront of offering new EV motorhomes that are becoming more attractive as traditional fuel prices have risen.

Among other major players are Trigano SA, Hymer GmbH & Co. KG, Crossroads RV, Highland Ridge, Skyline Corporation, DRV Luxury Suites, Cruiser RV, Dutchmen RV, Fleetwood Corporation, and Pleasure-Way Industries.


Outlook for North America RV Market

Enveloped in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the North American RV market experienced an unprecedented boom in sales and growth. According to the RV Industry Association, North America saw an explosion in demand, driven by your yearning for travel and freedom.
As lockdowns limited overseas travel, you turned to RVs as a safe alternative, allowing you to explore the continent’s extensive landscapes at your own pace.
And while that boom gave way to some cooling in 2023, the future still looks bright for the RV industry in North America, with one key metric, RV camping, getting the industry’s hopes up. RV campground reservations are showing signs of strength heading into 2024, with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) saying that they’re seeing almost half of RV campers have already made reservations.
The continued strength of RVs in North America shouldn’t be surprising with the vast number of national parks, RV parks, highways, and roads and the increasing fuel efficiency and diversity of RV models.

This growth isn’t fleeting, either. The recreational vehicle industry’s future looks bright, bolstered by market segmentation. As families continue to seek unique, flexible travel experiences, the demand for RVs remains robust.

Fastest Growing Region in Demand for RVs

The Asia-Pacific region has surged ahead in the RV and camper market since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fastest-growing region has seen an unprecedented demand for RVs as more people are embracing the freedom and adventure that campers offer, especially the smaller but still modern and functional campers that have appeared on the market, making them a great option for the Asian market.

Nonetheless, North America, and specifically the U.S., will continue to dominate RV sales worldwide. America’s thirst for outdoor adventures continues, with almost 11% of households owning an RV or camper. It is seeing rapid growth among key segments like millennials, who are attracted to its overall low-cost way of traveling and even living.

Germany has also been notable for being very enthusiastic about motorhomes, especially smaller, more innovative versions like the Type-C. Germany bought over 82 thousand motorhomes in 2021, compared to 55 in 2019.

Let’s take a quick look at the key market dynamics shaping this shift:

  • Increased domestic tourism

With international travel restrictions, locals began exploring their own backyards and continue to prefer it. 

  • Changing the perception of camping

It’s no longer seen as roughing it out but as a chic way to travel.

  • Rise of the digital nomad

The world of RVs is becoming the new remote office. Many buy affordable travel trailers to hitch to their cars and enjoy the summer traveling or working from “home,” or rather, their trailers.

Most Popular Types of RVs and Campers in Recent Years

With more people seeking the freedom of the open road, the RV lifestyle has become a hot trend, with a surge in popularity for certain types of RVs and campers. Let’s look at the most popular types that are making waves in the camping world.

Compact and conventional travel trailers have seen high consumer demand as they offer a cost-effective option for many. Their versatility, with sizes ranging from small to large, fits a variety of budgets and camping needs.

They can offer more savings for families than motorhomes but also require a powerful enough truck to pull around, which limits their use. Still, they represent 20% of all RVs in the U.S., compared to Class A motorhomes, which represent 14%. In 2018 alone, 94,000 fifth-wheel motorhomes were sold, compared to just over 60,000 motorhomes.

Fifth wheels are known for their spacious interiors and luxury features. They’re a bit pricier, with average prices being between $35,000 to $150,000, but for those who crave comfort on their adventures, they’re a top pick.

Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that Class A, Class C, and compact motorhomes (Class B) are gaining ground. It was estimated they had almost a 50% share of the global recreational vehicle market share in 2021. They are becoming more diverse, with a variety of models and styles catering to all types of budgets. They are overall easier to move around in, with all RV parks welcoming them and not having to worry about hauling a conventional travel trailer on top of your own vehicle.

Motorhomes, especially Class C, have soared in popularity. Class Cs offer a balance between size and amenities, making them a solid choice for families.

The rental market size for motorhomes has also been a huge driver in their increased retail sales, as these new forms of traveling, by renting a motorhome, have become a popular choice in many new, growing markets.

Lastly, pop-up campers have made a comeback. They offer a low-cost, lightweight option for the minimalist camper, perfect for those who cherish simplicity.

Latest Innovations in RVs and Campers

The latest innovations are all about enhancing your adventure and providing you with the freedom to explore campgrounds, parks, and national parks in a whole new way.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest news in RV and camper innovations:

  • EV versions: Beginning in 2022, major brands like Thor, Winnebago, and others have introduced exciting electric versions of their motorhomes with enough range to finally make them a worthwhile investment for explorers. 
  • Automated leveling systems: No more manual adjustments are needed.
  • Energy-efficient appliances: Keep your adventures eco-friendly.
  • Expanded storage solutions: More room for your adventure gear.
  • Outdoor kitchens: Bring the comforts of home to the great outdoors.
  • Solar power systems: Stay powered up while exploring remote areas.
  • Enhanced water storage: Longer stays in secluded parks and campgrounds.
  • Improved Breaking: Players like Jayco are introducing an Anti-locking Braking System (ABS) into their RVs, improving anti-sway tech and stability during towing.  

These innovations not only add convenience to your travels but also open up a world of possibilities. You’ll be able to venture further into the wild, stay longer at your favorite spots, and enjoy the freedom of the open road with all the comforts of home.

The future of RVs and campers is here, and it’s exciting.

Joint the Ever Bigger and Growing Life of RV Travel with an RV Loan.

So, you’ve taken a peek into the exciting world of RVs and campers. From the market profile of RV owners to the surge in sales post-pandemic and the latest innovative designs, it’s clear this industry is revving up and bigger than ever.

Whether you’re already part of this community or considering joining to take a trip to Yellowstone National Park or Yosemite National Park or just a nice camping trip to a local RV park, let Southeast Financial help you explore your way through the RV and camper financing jungle. Our network, connections, and online tools will help you find financing tailor-made for your next RV or camper.

Buckle up; the journey’s just beginning.