Erick Beaudoin analyzes the recreational vehicle industry’s market trends and pricing and provides advice for lenders based on the short- and long-term outlook.
Projected Values (12-Month Outlook)
- Following record recreational vehicle (RV) shipments in 2021, year-to-date shipments were down 8.2% through September 2022 offsetting gains seen earlier in the year.
- Analysts expect waning macroeconomic momentum, inflation, rising interest rates and a tight labor market to drive a decrease in total 2022 shipments compared with 2021.
- Supply chain issues have slowed the market with deliveries of some RV orders delayed until 2023.
- When gas prices hit highs midyear, it cost between $500 and $750 to fill 100- to 150-gallon RV tanks.
- Environmental and government regulations for fuel efficiency and emission standards may slow industry growth and manufacturing demand in the medium to long term.
Supply chain challenges and rising gas prices have tempered recreational vehicle (RV) wholesale shipments since June 2022 following record sales in 2021. Projections suggest shipments will decline approximately 8% for the year and increasing interest rates will likely further slow sales growth.
RV Shipments Hit a Roadblock
Following record RV wholesale shipments in 2021 that were up over 19% from the previous record and up 39.4% over 2020, shipments increased 7.8% through June 2022 before declining by month end, marking the first year-over-year decrease in shipments since May 2020.
The decline escalated through summer and into fall, and September shipments fell 48.5% over September 2021. Year-to-date shipments were down 8.2% through September, more than offsetting the gains seen earlier in the year.
Decreasing gas prices and declining sales, combined with inflation, rising interest rates and waning macroeconomic momentum, spurred the RV Industry Association to revise its 2022 and 2023 forecasts. The new forecast projects 2022 RV shipments of 498,800 units, which represents a 16.9% decrease from the record 600,090 units shipped in 2021. The association projects 2023 shipments of 419,000 units, which would be a 16% decline from the projected 2022 total.
Supply chain issues and the summer spike in gas prices slowed the market. Some RV order deliveries are delayed until 2023, and when gas prices peaked in June, it cost between $500 and $750 to fill 100- to 150-gallon RV tanks.
Moderate Growth Forecasted
Analysts expect industry revenue to increase at an annualized rate of 1.1% through 2027 as industry conditions normalize. Air travel alternatives may mitigate growth as consumers fulfill pent-up travel demand deferred by the pandemic. Additionally, rising interest rates could deter consumers who generally purchase all types of RVs on credit.
New offerings geared toward younger consumers and families may support industry growth beyond traditional target demographics to new customer segments, including the 18- to 34-year-olds who now represent 22% of the market. Additionally, 57% of millennial campers worked while camping in 2021, signifying a growing trend to use RVs as part of a remote work and travel lifestyle that could indicate new growth potential for the industry.
Forecasters anticipate moderate industry growth through 2027, though environmental regulations for fuel efficiency and international agreements to curb carbon dioxide emissions may affect this trajectory.
Electric engines and zero-emission RVs could help the industry align to increased environmental regulations. Zero-emission models entered the market this year with Winnebago’s e-RV, an all-electric motorhome, and Airstream’s eStream, a classically designed silver bullet with an electric drivetrain to make it easier to tow with electric vehicles. Additionally, THOR Industries announced its THOR Vision Vehicle, an electric RV with a targeted range of 300 miles, and Lightship Energy launched its all-electric RV startup.
Despite the stable to positive outlook, inflation, rising interest rates, and increasing environmental and government regulations regarding fuel efficiency may slow industry growth and demand for recreational vehicles and the components and chassis used in manufacturing over the next several years.
In the short term, Gordon Brothers expects a slight decrease in finished vehicle inventory appraisal values as demand wanes and the market slows.
 RV RoadSigns Quarterly Forecast
 IBISWorld Industry Report, September 2022
 Recreational Vehicle (RV) Industry, Facts And Statistics For 2022, Trulyexperiences.com.
 Latest Statistics and Trends for the RV Industry, RV lifestyle, and Camping (2022), Outdoormiles.com, June 3, 2022.
Note: THIS PUBLICATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL MARKETING PURPOSES ONLY. THE MATERIAL CONTAINED HEREIN SHOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS ADVICE, NOR RELIED UPON TO MAKE FINANCIAL, OPERATIONAL OR OTHER DECISIONS; NOR SHOULD IT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR AN ASSET APPRAISAL. ACTUAL RECOVERY VALUES MAY VARY FROM TRANSACTION TO TRANSACTION AND THE RECOVERY VALUES REFERENCED HEREIN ARE FOR REPRESENTATIVE TRANSACTIONS WITHOUT REGARD TO SPECIFIC KEY FACTORS. THIS MATERIAL MAY BE REDISTRIBUTED ONLY IN ITS ENTIRETY, INCLUDING NOTICE OF COPYRIGHT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ©2021 GORDON BROTHERS, LLC. REFERENCE SOURCES: THE RECREATION VEHICLE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION, IBISWORLD, GO RVING