Bose Bluetooth and Italian cabinetry are driving sales of the once-maligned family camper.
This fall, one of the hottest things in outdoor gear wasn’t a new drone or motorized skateboard. The tech tastemakers—from Outside Magazine to Gear Patrol—collectively drooled over a recreational vehicle. That’s right, an “RV” —specifically the Airstream Basecamp, a $35,000 teardrop of aluminum that can be towed behind a Subaru.
The aerodynamic, riveted pod comes with one massive panoramic window, solar power, Italian cabinetry, and a Bose Bluetooth speaker system. It’s an RV made for Instagram, not cousin Eddie, and it’s been in high demand since hitting dealerships in September.
“It’s really kind of an online phenomenon,” said Bob Martin, chief executive of Airstream parent Thor Industries. “Our social media hits have been incredible.”
The Basecamp and a crowd of models like it have pushed an already brisk business to historic highs. Americans are expected to buy about 420,000 homes-on-wheels by the end of the year, more than since Gerald Ford was president (That was the mid-1970s, millennials). The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association expects sales to increase by another 4.4 percent next year. In short, the mood was giddy last week when the country’s RV dealers gathered for their annual trade show in Louisville, Ky., to check out the newest models and place orders for the spring.
“We thought it would be a good year,” said RVIA spokesman Kevin Broom. “We just didn’t expect it to be this good.”
To be sure, the buying boom is not entirely a surprise. An RV is a rolling, bear-proof embodiment of consumer confidence, and as such the industry accelerates or brakes in step with broader economy. In 2016, the road has been wide-open: the unemployment rate has drifted to record lows, gas prices are languishing, and the stock market has surged to unforeseen heights. Even a contentious, nerve-wracking presidential election and its unprecedented aftermath did little to keep people out of dealerships.
RV-makers, perhaps emboldened by their brisk business, pushed their advantage with…[read the full article at www.bloomberg.com]