Shareholders Take Precedence Over Customers with RV Manufacturers, IMHO

The pandemic has had quite an impact on the RV industry. The popularity of RVing has surged during the pandemic. While this means great things for RV manufacturers and shareholders, new RV customers are having quite a different experience.

Dealers are feeling it, too. It really seems like manufacturers are focusing on profit over customer satisfaction these days. Let’s take a closer look. 

RV Dealers Report That RV Quality Is Going Downhill 

If you’ve purchased a new RV recently and feel like the quality is crap, you’re not the only one. RV dealers around the country have spoken out recently about the influx of issues on new RVs.

While manufacturer’s warranties cover new RVs to take care of most issues, dealers are seeing more RVs coming in for warranty work than they should.

Josh Winters of Haylett Auto and RV Supercenter said, “Sometimes we need to step up to take care of a shortfall that a manufacturer ships us. Should it be that way? No. But it is.”

Josh Winters of Haylett Auto and RV Supercenter discusses RV quality

Shareholders Seem to Be Calling the Shots in Manufacturing

The start of the pandemic sent RV stocks surging. RV life shot up in popularity as people realized that RVing was a great way to social distance yet still travel.

And shareholders took notice. As a result, manufacturers are producing RVs as quickly as possible to meet market demand (and please shareholders), which leads to poor-quality RVs. 

The RV Industry Association reports an all-time high for RV shipments throughout the first quarter of 2021, with a whopping 148,507 units sold. They’ve estimated that the 2021 year may close out with a grand total of around 580,000 RVs sold.

Record sales paired with an increase in manufacturing pace and the challenges manufacturers have had with sourcing RV parts have led to lower quality RVs. But poor RV quality doesn’t matter to shareholders. As long as there’s profit, they’re happy. 

Customers Report Problem After Problem with New RVs 

If you’ve spent any amount of time in RV forums, you’ve undoubtedly seen customers complaining about something breaking or poor RV quality. That’s something that customers have always faced, but lately, it seems to have skyrocketed. 

“From what I can see, it is an industry-wide issue.”

Scott & Julie, Crossroads RV Forum

One customer on a Crossroads RV forum said: “I feel the need to vent a little bit (not that it will do any good) about the lack of quality in the entire RV industry. From what I can see, it is an industry-wide issue and not directed solely at Crossroads. I was looking at an (auction) website at the RVs that were up for auction this week, and there were four 2020 models that were brand new from the factory (not crossroads) with exterior fiberglass quality issues up for auction. For the prices that are being charged for our new rigs and the lack of quality, how should we expect them to hold up for years and years when they can not even get them out of the factory brand new without serious quality issues. This is very disheartening to me.”

Supply Chain Issues Affect Quality and Repairs 

The pandemic has affected every link of the supply chain, and it’s shown in the RV industry. RV manufacturers shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, but dealers didn’t. This led to empty sales lots because while people were buying RVs, no new ones were coming in. 

Manufacturing is back in full swing, but there’s a lot of strain on the RV supply chain from many different sources. RVs utilize many different materials and parts, and each industry is struggling to keep up. As the supply chain continues to flounder, repairs are taking much longer than usual.

And as a result, the prices of RVs, RV parts, and RV repairs have gone up significantly versus pre-pandemic times. In short, now is not the time to buy an RV or need to get yours repaired. 

Some RV Manufacturers Are Better Than Others 

Even in these times, some manufacturers still shine when it comes to high-quality RVs. There are RV brands that focus on quality every single time, such as RV manufacturers that are small and still family-owned. 

Molded fiberglass campers like Oliver, Scamp, and Casita all focus on quality over quantity. These RVs aren’t mass-produced, so you can rest assured that you’re getting a great rig every single time. 

Other high-quality RV brands include Alliance, Lance, Host Truck Campers, Keystone, Grand Design, Winnebago, and more. When researching an RV brand, the most important thing to do is listen to real customers by reading reviews in forums and brand-specific Facebook groups. 

What Does This Mean for the RV Industry? 

The RV industry isn’t struggling for customers right now. Manufacturers and dealers are having a great time. It’s the customers who are currently suffering. We think the rise of the RV life trend will continue to surge, but we hope RV quality will improve as well. 

With the quality of new RVs being so unpredictable and the prices so high, there’s never been a better time for the used RV market. We imagine more savvy RVers are shopping for used RVs to get a pre-pandemic model for better quality construction.

Used RVs are going fast right now, and we expect them to continue to sell fast and for higher-than-average prices. If you’re in the market for a used RV, use your time wisely!

Will Customers Regain Some Control in RV Manufacturing? 

Only time will tell if the trend of low-quality mass-produced RVs will continue. If you’re in the market for a new RV and want to ensure you’re getting a quality rig, shop with a trusted brand. Even better: shop from a small business. 

Certain RV brands care more about customer satisfaction than anything else. Others mass-produce as many RVs as they can to make the most profit. With a little research, it’s easy to tell who’s who. Which brands do you trust right now?

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