Might be the truth to him, but certainly not what I want. A class B is WAY, WAY different than any other class of RV. It seems like the same thing if I said I would never have an engine in my RV because of the noise.............
I find it interesting that the author claimed that 80% of all RVs are built in Elkhart Indiana. He uses that fact to suggest that a labor force drawn from a city of 50,000 is too limited, too unskilled, and probably overworked to build quality RVs.
I think many people make the same false assumption, probably because Thor's main HQ is in Elkhart plus many of their factories. However, there are other RVs being produced in other northern Indiana towns/cities plus other parts of the country. You could probably say that 75% or 80% of all RVs are built in Indiana, but I doubt that many are built within the city limits of Elkhart itself.
His argument is like saying Newmar has quality issues because it is built/based in Nappanee and has to draw their work force from a town of less than 7,000 residents.
You just have to understand that online blogs don't necessarily use great writers. And, freelance writers are frequently more interested in selling a story than they are in checking facts.
First, the writer apparently confuses "Elkhart" and "Elkhart County." While I don't have any data at hand to prove it, I suspect the claim that "Elkhart County, Indiana, where more than two-thirds of RVs in the U.S., along with the appliances and furniture that outfit them, are made" may be, at least, close to true. Note the "county" reference. Nappanee covers portions of both Elkhart and Kosciusko counties, BTW, so Newmar would be included.
In the next breath, however, the author claims that "most manufacturers [are] concentrated in Elkhart—a town of 50,000 where it’s estimated more than 80 percent of all RVs worldwide are built." The last time I took a math class, 66.67" did not equal 80%. Obviously, that is contradictory to the first claim.
Now, Elkhart itself does have a lot of component manufacturers located there, along with regional distribution centers for appliances, etc. If you lump all that together, you MIGHT get a number closer to 66.67%. The claim that 80% of all RVs are built in the City of Elkhart, however, is...in today's fact-checker parlance...at least "three Pinnocios."
Here is some summary level data that is reasonably well sourced.
The RV industry has been consistently growing year after year. In the last few years, the industry has seen millennials living in RVs, retirees swapping to the RV life, and the age 35-55 crowd taking a larger market share than the typical 60+ buyers.
And that's just the beginning. In this report, we cover:
Key RV industry statistics
An analysis of RV industry trends
What states sell the most RVs
RV industry news
The RV consumer demographic profile
RV market values and economic impact over time
Why people buy RVs and why the industry is growing
As you can see in the chart above, the RV industry has steadily grown to record highs over the last eight years, hitting 504.6 thousand units shipped in 2017. What does that equate to in dollars? And how has this impacted the U.S. economy? Let's see:
In the U.S. alone,the RV industry creates $50 billion USD in economic impact annually. More than 23,000 businesses are currently involved in the industry, creating nearly 45,000 direct employment opportunities and $3 billion in direct wages. (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association [RVIA])
In 2017, the RV industry celebrated its eighth straight year of sales growth. During this 8-year span, the recreational vehicle industry has grown more than 200%. (RVIA)
However, 2019 is expected to end this streak with a slight decline. But 2020 is predicted to return to growth with new record high sales numbers. (RVIA)
The U.S. isn't the only nation affected by the RV industry. In Canada, the industry is responsible for over $7 billion in retail sales each year. (Statista)
In comparison, the U.S. RV industry generates almost $18 billion in retail sales annually from over a half-million wholesale shipments of RVs. (Statista)
Over 200,000 indirect loans were generated at retail locations offering recreational vehicles for sale in 2017. These loans totaled $8.4 billion from households purchasing RVs. (RVIA)
Of those 200,000 loans, the average amount financed by a household purchasing an RV is over $45,000 USD. (RVIA)
There are affordable RVs available today for under $10,000, but the average price of a motorhome is much higher. Class C and Class B motorhomes retail anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000, while a Class A motorhome can retail for more than $500,000. (RVIA)
The value of RV industry exports totals about $1 billion each year. (Department of Commerce)
The RV industry contributes almost $6 billion in taxes to the U.S. economy every year. (RVIA)
RV Consumer Demographic Profile Data
This section of the report covers all the studies and statistics related to the average RV shopper and their consumer demographic profile data.
Americans are the largest market segment for the RV industry to-date. Roughly 40 million people in the United States go RV camping. (This includes backyard and car-based camping.) (Statista)
Of those 40 million, Millennials make up approximately 38% of campers, even though they make up just 31% of the general population, according to 2017 figures. (CNBC)
However, the average RV owner in the U.S. is 48 years old. (RVIA)
Although Millennials are discovering the RV industry, Generation X and Baby Boomers are still the biggest segments of the industry. Households in the 35-54 age demographic are the most likely to own an RV in the U.S. right now. (RVIA)
Other studies back this up. According to the University of Michigan, more RVs are owned by people in the 35-54 age demographic than any other age category. (University of Michigan)
More than 9 million families in the U.S. report ownership of an RV. Additionally, there are about 16,000 campgrounds and parking facilities throughout the country, both public and private, which support RV camping. (RVIA)
Roughly 25% of campers in the United States are under the age of 18. (Statista)
The typical household income for RV owning households is about $62,000. These families spend an average of 4 weeks each year using their RV in some way. (RVIA)
There has been a 16% increase in household ownership of recreational vehicles in the United States since 2001. Additionally, 60% more households own an RV now compared to 1980. (RVIA)
About 54% of RV owners bring their pets with themwhen they travel thanks to how their RV is designed. (University of Michigan)
RV Direct Wholesale & Manufacturing Stats
This section will discuss the impact of RV wholesale direct manufacturing and the economic impact of RV manufacturers:
More than 100 manufacturers are currently active, most of which are based in the U.S. An additional 300 manufacturers, distributors, or suppliers of RV parts support the industry as well. (RVIA)
Indiana is responsible for 80% of the nation's manufactured RVs. Of those, 3 out of every 5 RVs comes from just one county: Elkhart County. (RVIA)
As Millennials become a bigger part of the RV industry, revenues for RV manufacturers have increased dramatically. In 2017 alone, Winnebago saw a 75% increase in revenues in a single quarter and Thor Industries saw a 57% revenue increase. (CNBC)
Park Model Recreational Vehicles, or PMRVs, are like tiny houses situated on a trailer. In 2017, over 4,000 PMRV units were sold for the first time, reflecting an annual growth rate of 10%. (RVIA)
Over 7,000 dealerships currently operate in the United States, creating nearly 50,000 direct employment opportunities. (IBIS World)
Recreational vehicle dealers manage roughly $23 billion in revenues each year. Since 2013, the average annual growth rate in the industry has been 6.6%. (IBIS World)
Just 5 countries make up the majority of industry exports for the U.S.-based RV industry. Of those, Canada is the primary RV export destination with more than 90% of industry exports going north each year. (Department of Commerce)
Canada generates C$7.56 billion each year in recreational vehicle retail sales. (Statista)
Now, I can believe those stats. And, I can see where the writer of the original article mixed apples, oranges, bananas and kumquats to come up with the fruit salad of numbers he did.
That "Indiana is responsible for 80% of the nation's manufactured RVs" is likely the case; especially when you factor in travel trailers and truck campers. And, as I said in a previous post, the statement that "3 out of every 5 RVs comes from just one county: Elkhart County" is also believable.
Unfortunately, the writer of the original article didn't select his fruit carefully and made a messy fruit salad. I like fruit salad, but not the kind made with words.
The original article is proof that not everything you read on the internet is true. We need to do some personal fact-checking as @Joe did. Well done, sir! If only we could get that concept applied in others areas, we might make some progress at arriving at what's true and what's not.