It’s a mad, mad, out-of-control RV world

By Chuck Woodbury
I received this news release today from Thor. In this one release is proof positive that recreation vehicles have branched off from “camping vehicles” as surely as humans one day branched off from other primates.

Whatever these wheeled things are that Thor boasts about below, they are not “recreation” vehicles. What they are describing here are all things you would normally want in a home — that is if you were a rich, techie-type person who wanted the latest and greatest of everything even if you didn’t need them.

The creations they’re building that they call “recreation vehicles” are simply homes built on foundations of steel and wheels instead of concrete or wood like non-movable homes. The RV makers will sell these to as many people who will buy them, fully aware that the more complicated they make them, the harder it will be for buyers to get them fixed when they break down, as they surely will.

In this release, Thor proclaims that this is the year of “innovative technology.” You can read below what that means. But to me, what it means is the company’s sales and design people have sat around a few big tables the past year and asked each other, “How can we trick out our RVs to make them cooler than other guys’, so people who love gadgets will want to buy them because they are so wonderful?”

Here’s the first paragraph of the release (I will be back after that): 

ELKHART, IND. – Thor Motor Coach® (TMC) is calling 2018 the year of innovative technology. Many of the new motorhomes being unveiled at Thor Industries Ninth Annual Dealer Open House feature Wi-Fi hot spots, solar charging, and app-enabled multiplex wiring systems. These high-tech features will be showcased to more than 500 dealers from around the world, September 24, 2018 through September 27, 2018.

I just love the new “app-enabled multiplex wiring systems.” That will be just perfect for when I’m out by the campfire, cooking up s’mores, telling ghost stories and singing campfire songs.

And it gets better:

The all-new Tuscany® 45JA features a walk-in closet, dual fireplaces, a double sink vanity bathroom, and a large, elegant living space in TMC’s most luxurious diesel pusher. Technology keeps the Tuscany ahead of the curve with its Winegard® ConnecT 4G/Wi-Fi System, 200-watt solar charging, Firefly® multiplex, and Surgeguard® power protection systems.

The Tuscany Touch Screen Panel

Damn, how did I ever camp without all these things? I mean, dual fireplaces? Please, somebody, tell me why I need two fake fireplaces! But, oh, I am so thrilled that I can own an RV with a double sink vanity bathroom. I will be so happy there putting on my makeup (oh, wait, I don’t wear makeup).

There’s more . . .

A new Windsport® and Hurricane® 33X are sure to stand out in the gas Class A motorhome market. The 33X is one of many 2019 lines featuring the multiplex wiring system. Simply put, a full-color touchscreen or mobile device can control the generator start, slide rooms, air conditioning and more. All Hurricane and Windsport models now include a large 10” dash radio screen.

Yeah, and when you are in rural Kansas or west Texas or someplace 200 miles from the nearest RV tech — likely a guy making $12 an hour because it pays better than a busboy job at Betty’s Cafe, it will be lots of fun watching him figure out how to repair your stuck slideout room that’s controlled by a mobile device. “Can I just turn a wrench?” I simply love the idea that with this new RV I will have a “full-color touchscreen or mobile device” that can start my generator. Golly, that’s a huge improvement over my current antiquated, labor-intensive system where I’m forced to push a button.

And more. . .

Customers will also love the new Sprinter line-up, namely the Siesta®, Citation® and Synergy®. For the first time, TMC will offer the 24MB floor plan with an electronic controlled Murphy bed and increased living area to encourage longer getaways with the family.

An electronic controlled Murphy bed? Why can’t you just walk up to it, release a hinge and pull it down? Is that such a big deal? Really? And Thor, I assume you’ll charge me an extra thousand bucks so I can push a button rather than simply pull a lever! Am I right? That’s crazy!

But wait! There’s more. Here is why all of this is important:

Jon Krider, Vice President of Product Development, at Thor Motor Coach says, “We’re always striving to mirror trends in the marketplace. People want the same technology they have at home on the road and they want tech that makes their lives easier.

So it’s all about replicating the comforts of a regular home into one that moves, so our lives can be easier. Camping? That’s not a word that has any relationship to what this rolling home is. And do you know where 95 percent of the people who buy all these RVs with electric-powered gizmos and gadgets will stay? That’s right — in already crowded RV parks, where they can enjoy spectacular views of their next door neighbor smoking a cigar in his lawn chair watching Ice Road Truckers on his fifty-inch, high definition, 4k-enabled outdoor TV with its “vibrate your internal organs” Dolby speaker system.

Every year, RVs get more complicated. Every year it’s harder to find a qualified technician to fix them. Read our Facebook group RV Horror Stories to see why all these extras have little to do with recreation, and everything to do with RV makers having no clue anymore what they are building except instinctively knowing they have to come up with some new gadget, gizmo or other cool thing that they can then boast makes RVing better, more wonderful, so more people will buy them.

I say that these vehicles are no more “recreation” vehicles than you and I are Chimps.

Related

68 Thoughts to “It’s a mad, mad, out-of-control RV world”

  1. Chuck J

    Smart Money would never buy a new RV. It lets someone else take the 30 to 40% depreciation. In fact I’m not sure smart money would buy a used RV. After owning a motorhome for 15 years the only argument I can make for owning one is that you get to sleep in your own bed. It is not cheaper to travel that way.

    It’s not like to you need to buy new for a warranty. Can’t afford to take it to a dealer for warranty, oh by the way did you sort thru that stack of papers you were handed with you bought the MH. That was the individual warranties for each component in your MH. You didn’t fill that out? I guess you don’t have a warranty. The dealers work harder to get out of taking care of their customers then helping them.

    If you can’t take care of all the small things that will go wrong with your MH then you had better be flush with cash, you will need it. Then you find out many of the chassis parts you may need are discontinued. A rear axle hub, at MH salvage, for a Workhorse chassis is $900 + frt. You miss a season of traveling waiting for a Workhorse brake recall. Ever had a brake failure in a Motorhome? I have

    Do you know of any motorhome mfg that has a 3Yr bumper to bumper warranty. How about a loaner while yours is in the shop.

    I think Chuck’s message is spot on. Be sure to do a lot of homework before buying, don’t expect a lot from the dealer or mfg , you’re not going to get it. It is an unregulated industry ran by people who make politicians look ethical Enter your experience with your eyes wide open.

    I haven’t even touched upon how campgrounds have changed in the 15 years I have owned my MH.

  2. Dwight Bollinger

    Multiplex wiring actually simplifies maintenance and troubleshooting. It’s been used in commercial trucks for 15 years. Conventional wiring systems use separate wires to control each electrical function. The multiplex wiring system allows multiple electronic messages to travel back and forth through the same datalink wire, just as broadband cable allows telephone, television and Internet
    connections to travel through the same line.
    The multiplex wiring system’s electronic control modules send information back and forth, monitoring vehicle components and interpreting messages transmitted through the wires. Because the modules are remotely controlled by signals, rather than by separate wires, fewer relays and connectors are required, reducing possible failure points

  3. Mark Birnbaum

    To each their own. Turned 65 today. This summer is the first summer I haven’t slept on the ground in a tent.

    Got a 2001 Lazy Daze Class C because I didn’t want a loan and I wanted simplicity and reliability. Lazy Daze practically started the cutaway Class C business and is still in business today. They still won’t offer slideouts. They focus on the build, have huge insulated windows, very cushy opposing couches that are single beds and can be pulled together to become an oversized king. It has just enough creature comforts for me. To each their own.

    An acquaintance was bemoaning that his Born Free has amazing control panels, but for some reason, he can’t turn off the overhead lights from the loveseat panel, he has to reach 5 feet to the chair panel. Never seen so many different lights in a 22′ motorhome. They have a tiny bed over the cab, almost no storage, and I don’t get it, but they love it. To each their own.

  4. Ron

    Chuck what you are doing is called preaching to the choir. You need to find a way to get to them before they buy to give them something to think about.

  5. Eileen

    That’s what’s wrong with the RVing world, Chuck: YOU don’t wear makeup! ;-D

    Perhaps if you prettied yourself up a bit, the manufacturers and dealers would pay attention to you.

    Nah, just kidding. You’re cute enough as you are. They’re just lacking in sense and ethics.

  6. Stanley Sokolow

    I’m going to hold off on buying one of these super-luxury Class A’s until they have replaced all of the windows with photo-realistic video display panels that show lifelike videos of where we aren’t going but imagine we are going. They can also have the air suspension system jiggle the coach in vibration patterns that mimic actual road trips. That way, I can just leave it parked and enjoy all of the comforts of home on a virtual RV trip without actually moving. Think of the fuel-economy and greenhouse gas reduction that will bring to the RV world!

    1. Eileen

      Stanley, I remember an attraction at the 1964-65 NYC World’s Fair that did just that. I don’t remember what it was, but it involved being inside a closed environment that moved around on gimbals, with video and audio piped in, to simulate some sort of vehicular journey.

    2. Linda Wharton

      Hysterical!

    3. Scott Gitlin

      For added realism, you can program in a failure that will prevent you from enjoying your virtual RV experience. Perhaps you will be able to select a time period . . .
      a: 24 hour problem
      b: 1 week problem
      c: 1 month problem
      d: stump the dealer and manufacturer.
      . . . and then you have the chance to either discover the cause and fix it yourself or virtually set it on fire in front of the dealer lot in protest.

    4. Greg Datlon

      Love it! That’s my kind of thinking… way outside the box.

  7. Dry Creek

    Well, everyone keeps predicting a new, deep recession.
    When is it coming? I need to start shopping for a smaller DP – between 30 and 32 feet long.
    We love our 2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R, but we’d prefer a diesel chassis.
    And, I am not at all impressed with the industry’s push for residential refrigerators. We like to boondock, and will often spend an evening mid-trip in a (gasp!) Walmart parking lot. At least they are looking at putting a little solar capability on the newer units.

  8. Bill Bateman

    To each his own! There will be a big recession .. there will be tens of thousands of RVs for sale CHEAP (for those who still want an electron bomb). On a positive note … there will be more campsites open!
    We have close friends with a 2016 32′ Windsport who have told us straight up “We don’t camp or enjoy campfires, we RV!” They just returned from a 6 month Grand Tour from California to Newfoundland mainly using RV and State/ Provincial Parks with hookups.
    We have other equally dear friends with a 2017 Hurricane who do “camp” and even ripped off their steps (on one occasion when nearly high centered on a rough DIRT road) and we laughed about it around the campfire!
    We currently have an 11′ Lance on a Chevy GAS dually (would like to go back to a B+ or C) that fits our needs and 4 months or more each year on the trail.
    Again, to each his own and good luck and happy trails to all…

  9. Bob

    Very well said Chuck!!!!
    I concur with you….who needs all those gadgets, bells, and whistles?!?!?! Just one more complicated thing to malfunction. Besides, half of the gadgets mentioned by Thor will never be used on a normal weekend or weeklong getaway.. Doesn’t anyone believe in the “keep it simple stupid” concept anymore?
    Thanks for all you do for us simple RV’ers!
    Bob

    1. Patrick Granahan

      Chuck, You outlined the shortage of RVParks to plug-in these power hungry monsters and I had a flash-back to the RV Parks surrounding the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
      Every year over 10 million visitors flood this wilderness area. There are no electric connections at any of the Campgrounds inside the park but in the town of Maggie Valley, NC you will discover dozens upon dozens of RV Parks supplying plenty of electric , water and sewer hook-ups.
      The sites are all jammed together “bumper-to-bumper” with RVs packed in like pickles in a jar…..camping ???…???
      If you are ever in the area bring a camera for pictures and share this pickle park wonder with members of RVTravel.
      You will find real campers inside the National Park at primitive campsites enjoying nature and Mountain View’s by a real fire ring and not 4K HDTV with electric fireplaces and WiFi.
      Note: No Cell service, restaurants or TV signals inside the National Park….just nature, black bears, elk and pure wilderness.
      Happy Camping !

      1. RV Staff

        Hey, Patrick. Love your new classification of campgrounds: “pickle park wonder.” (Sad but true.) Thanks! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

        1. DeeAnne Antolik

          I do too. “Pickle Park” I think we should use this in the future 🙂

          1. RV Staff

            And, of course, they would have to play Pickleball there (if there’s room!). Invented by a friend of my long-time attorney-boss (from 1970-2013). 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

          2. Wow! I had no idea Pickleball even existed. There’s even a USA Pickleball Association! See what all those years of hanging around rock concerts have done to me?

            https://www.usapa.org/what-is-pickleball/

          3. RV Staff

            Good grief, Mike! Where ya’ been?! It’s pretty popular, all apparently thanks to some bored kids on Bainbridge Island (WA) one day and their dads inventing this new game. (Can’t believe I actually knew something you didn’t!) 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

          4. Hey, I didn’t know what a “growler” was until last week at Hershey. We use something for electrical troubleshooting car starter motors called a growler to test the windings on a starter motor. Apparently, it’s also the name of a big jug you can get filled up with beer at a local brewery. Talk about embarrassing. I’ve led such a sheltered life…

          5. RV Staff

            We’re never too old to learn, huh, Mike? I thought a “growler” was a sandwich, but you informed me that would be a “grinder.” Thanks for setting me straight. Obviously, I haven’t gotten out enough. I’ll go out and order a growler and a grinder, then I’ll be able to keep ’em straight (maybe … once I sober up!). 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

  10. Randall Davis

    I paraphrase Scotty from Star Trek. “The more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

  11. Sam Sprott

    Hey Chuck, we took a 20 year and are ok with it. At 77 years old, I should wish I will be around to make that final payment. We bought a four year old Newmar, wrote a deposit check for $50K and had I taken out the $150K balance from my IRA my income tax hit would have gone through the roof. As it is, I have a little mortgage write-off. First time we’ve had an installment payment since 1978, and trust me, even with a credit score north of 800, we were turned down by three different lenders. 😉

  12. Rex Korden

    Hey Chuck, your comments and observations are spot on the problem that is facing the RV community, which is lack of space and lack of technical support.
    Your opinions and suggestions are enlightening to those people who are willing to listen, and threatening to those too ignorant to see the writing on the wall.
    Thanks for all you do.

  13. Roy Ellithorpe

    I have no love for Camping World or Marcus Lemonis, but I do get tired of you blaming him for initiating the 20 year RV loan. One of my first RV memories was sitting around the campfire in Quartzsite in ’06 talking to some retired Californians who were so tickled that they only had 13 years left to pay on their rig. I don’t think Lemonis even knew what an RV was in 1999. The big dealers were all offering 20 year mortgages back then.

  14. Zoom

    Chuck, you may have missed the mark on a couple of points. But I will say anyone that takes out a 20 year loan on an RV probably has purchased a lot more than they need or really cannot afford a RV at all! I know I shouldn’t paint this with such a broad brush but that is just the way it is.
    On the subject of high tech options this seems to be the norm now. I am in between on this subject. I like a certain amount of comfort and I also like to be able to leave it all behind. I am retired and have always been working in a technology field so I am comfortable with all of the tech they can throw at me. If I am going to stay at the same location for the winter I want to have my comforts and technology. If I am on short trips I can leave it all behind. But younger buyers want it all of the time even for a weekend. Things have changed in the last few years (mostly caused by social media) but it will never go back. We might as well accept that fact and do what we want. The most urgent thing we need to do is learn how to repair almost anything that happens to our unit (fortunately I can now) and not depend on anyone else.

  15. Mike

    FYI, as you have spoken before about camp ground space… another one bites the dust , Chula Vista c. g. in San Diego’,Ca. is closing for good in February of 2019. The port authority wants the land !!!!

    1. Denny

      That’s a real shame, Chula Vista RV Resort is a real gem

  16. Jeff

    I think I’ll be the CHIMP! As long as it comes with a Years supply of BANANAs! LOL!

  17. Drew Mueller

    Chuck, all points well taken. Greg- I hope the correction in the rv market isn’t as drastic as you describe. I love our rv and will continue to enjoy it and the lifestyle for years to come. You know, we are also some of the unfortunate people who have a 20 year loan on our rig as well. How we ever got pulled into that is something I can’t recall and it was not from Camping World. We are just over the half way mark in the term and fortunately we love the rv, so no thoughts right now of changing rigs. Eric, I don’t think that Chuck is out of touch, he simply shares a different viewpoint- that’s what makes us all individuals.

  18. Badwolfe

    Chuck, your point is so well taken. Although……
    I really enjoy all the gadgets and gizmo’s. Yes, I am in that old retirement age, but I have always been this way.
    “Back in the day”… I would take a 75′ extension cord and an original Mr. Coffee plugged into the State Park bathroom to make morning coffee. People would walk by wanting a fresh cup!
    Then, I moved to bringing a TV and VCR along… YES, I fully admit my crimes here.. On rainy days we would set up a tarp, the TV and rented movies. All the kids in the park would be under the tarp having fun.
    One time in the evening I rented a “just released” action show. The guys in the park all huddled around our campfire to watch the show.
    It was just fun. No harm intended, just for the fun of mixing our love of being outdoors with something unique.
    Now, I own my second Born Free RV (wish that quality company was still around!), and yes, it is filled with as many luxuries as I could find. We only use them when applicable, but I thoroughly enjoy it.

    That is the point, correct? Enjoy life on the road, in the woods, at the beach, where ever you end up?

    Just my opinion.

  19. Scott

    Chuck I think u r spot on! I, for one, don’t understand why some folks want to duplicate “home “on the road. Granted, it is certainly their right, but why not just stay home and do a staycation?
    I recently completed a delightful two week trek around southern Wyoming and did not plug in once. I stayed at some amazing places like in Medicine Bow National Forest, Split Rock (BLM), South Pass City Historical Site and Sinks Canyon State Park. (My apologies to Wyoming folks for highlighting some of their undiscovered gems.) Now I don’t need Wi-Fi everyday, so I have flexibility, but for me that is the advantage of having an RV as I can go and more fully experience places in ways that otherwise I could not. My 19 ft Escape Fiberglass trailer has all the amenities I need to be very comfortable, safe and secure. I understand this is not for everyone and I did enjoy my “urban”experience’s” in Laramie and Lander-two delightful places, but I like being able to stretch and experience something out of the ordinary, off the grid and the beaten path. I would encourage those of u who might be interested in doing so to try it. Nature is the best “TV”u will ever watch!

  20. Kathy Schein

    Although it’s not my cup of tea, and apparently not yours, I think you’re being a little hard on the Thor news release article. If I were a full timer and had sold my brick and mortar home, I wouldn’t be “camping” anymore. I would be “living” in a motor home, maybe moving around a lot…and maybe not. And if that were the case, I probably wouldn’t have a campfire anymore than I do now in my backyard. And I’d probably like some of those goodies. I guess it just depends on your place in life.

    1. BO

      I agree, Kathy. We also meet more and more of these full-timers when we are travelling than we ever have. Keep in mind that technology enables many RVers to do their jobs on the road…and many more millennials are doing that, so some of that technology access is a necessity to them (although not necessarily the three TVs). Truthfully, had the technology been available to me when I was younger, I would have loved to work and roll!

    2. Chuck Woodbury

      Kathy, this is what bugs me: the RV Industry Association, in all its ads and TV commercials, shows RVers camping in gorgeous places, and the ads keep saying “go where you want, when you want,” which is not true any more unless you travel in areas that are not popular with tourists. The ads do not show crowded RV parks, that are really mobile home parks, where people live full-time — retirees, contract workers, people who can’t afford a traditional home. The RVIA ads do not show RVers holing up in Walmart parking lots either, even though that’s where many RVers stay, often because they can’t find a space in an RV park or the one close by costs $45 a night and it’s a dump. There’s is so much to all this that needs to be explored. Many pieces need to be put together, but one thing is sure, traveling with an RV is not as easy as it was 30 years ago when I was spending a third of the year on the road, and never, ever in all that time did I make a reservation for a campground or RV park.

      1. Alex

        Chuck,
        Though we’ve not met, I consider you a friend. In that context, I offer my perspective:

        The RV business is all about the sizzle, not the steak. Build quality and financial irresponsibility are trivial compared to dreams of freedom, leisure and time together with family. Marketing will trump reality every time. That’s the strength as well as weakness of a consumption oriented society.

        Please don’t marginalize your journalism by becoming a sounding board for the minority of unhappy RV buyers seduced by the sizzle. More stories of those who woke up to the smell of coffee and aroma of bacon before buying an RV would help.

        Thank you for all your efforts and passionate support of the RV lifestyle!

  21. Gregory Illes

    Chuck, great job on the article and (from the widely varied comments) well-read and thought about. That’s a good thing.

    1. As for electronics, yes, a lot of techie folks like new gadgets in their cars, in their homes, and …. in their RV’s. But here is the HUGE difference:

    Electronics in homes and cars are, generally speaking, created and marketed by very large organizations (think Lutron, Ford, Westinghouse, Toyota). These businesses engineer in the best quality they can, and they prepare their service depots with qualified technicians for support of their products. WITH ALL THAT — people don’t have a lot of good things to say about when their hi-tech stuff goes bzzzzt.

    So now, picture an organization like Thor or Winnebago, with 1% of the resources of Ford or Lutron — do you think their support configuration might be a little more scant? Yup.

    2. The RV market clearly has an up-side, and that upside is twofold. First, the “allure” will fade. People will begin to “get it” that simply buying an RV will not provide them some mythical kind of freedom. The fad will wane.

    Second, it’s only the growing economy that fosters a feeling of enough wealth to invest in high-priced “camping” vehicles. WHEN the economy sags (not if), the over-inflated RV market will nearly disappear. My personal hunch is that sales will drop at least 50% in the first 6 months of a recession. Perhaps more, what with used RV’s flooding the market to try to pay off long-term loans. What a body-blow to the industry — and THEN where is the tech support going to come from when all the providers are trying to figure out how to survive the downturn?

    As you can see, I tend to share your bleak outlook on where the industry is going.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Agree 100% Greg.

  22. Tony from Palm Springs, CA

    In my teens I carried a backpack into wilderness areas. In my 20s I camped in a tent. Fast forward to my late 50s and I’m now most comfortable in a 43’ motorhome with all the comforts of home and living half the year in it. Roughing it is having only 30amp service! My life style and tastes have changed with age, and I have no guilt about enjoying the outdoors on my terms. I admire younger guys and their cute tear-drop trailers and ultra-lite 17’ towable rigs, but I’ll sleep like a baby in my king size bed and stay warm with my aqua hot heated floors.

  23. Terry

    The ultimate gadget ridden RVs are Prevost units. I once saw one broke down in a Ocean Lakes Campground , Myrtle Beach SC for a week trying to diagnose the electrical problems. The service manager of my former dealer told me his techs dread seeing a Prevost or others like it pull in for repairs. The wiring diagrams often do not match the actual units. A friend of mine $495,000) bought a new Winnebago 44 ft cummins diesel pusher. It broke down on the maiden voyage and most other trips. After a year he had the dealer, Campng World sell it. for $335,000. The unit had 11,000 miles on it. My friend stated he could have chartered private jets, used limos and 5 star hotels for their travel and it would have been cheaper. After camping since 1971 and having owned 8 different campers, my wife and I have sold our last 5th wheel .
    We also own a park model in Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, FL. We now stay in motels and these are often bad places. However, it is now cheaper to stay in motels. We tend to eat our meals out of our cooler, except for dinners. I have personally witnessed what Chuck writes about in the campgrounds plus other horror stories about theft in campgrounds. We toured a factory in Middleton IN where Forest River made 5th wheels and travel trailers. The workers move almost as fast as the NASCAR pit crews. There is so much hand labor in assembling an RV. The QC people try to identify problems and flaws on the assembly line with masking tape. However, the emphasis is to push the unit out the doors and to the dealers. We miss camping but I do not miss all the problems which we experienced with our high tech travel trailers and 5th wheels. We now often rent park model RV’s already set up in parks when we desire to camp. Our granddaughters call this “glamping”

  24. John Rakoci

    FOX News article yesterday stated after the most recent 13% stock price drop Thor is down 39% for the year. They have been cutting back production and offering dealers big incentives. The numbers did not come out very good on the last conference call.

  25. Kenneth Pratt

    My past experience in the automotive industry tells me not to purchase the “bells and whistles”. Two things come to mind. The difficulty of finding a qualified technician to perform the diagnosis and make the repairs and then there is the cost of the replacement part that usually doesn’t come as a subcomponent nor is it generally repairable but there is more money to be made on the “backend”.

    1. BO

      I recall years ago when I worked for a farm supply company, I needed a new appliance (can’t recall which) and asked my boss — the product manager — which was the best one for my $$. He told me basically the same thing. The one that does the job with the least unnecessary components (or bells and whistles) — the more extras there are, the more things there are to go wrong. Applies to most mechanical products, I would think!

  26. Booneyrat

    Two of the last great RV manufacturers ceased manufacturing RV’s some 5-6 years ago when Nu-Wa and Excel went out.Since then there have been very few decent coach builders who put out anything but high priced JUNK. One day this sham will bite the RV’s manufacturers in the derriere,and rightly so.What will the young folks do then? Because most sure won’t know how to “fix” anything.Maybe they can “reboot”: their RV so it “fixes” itself. In the meantime the rest of us “normal” folks can “fix” our own rigs.

  27. Patricia Moore

    I am another person who enjoys RVing, not camping. I own an RV to travel to the RV park where my group of friends is meeting that month. I want the bells and whistles, I want comfort. I seldom boondock and that is usually only at rallies. I want the RV parks with pools, community centers for us to enjoy meeting for our coffee in the morning and happy hours in the afternoon after we return from touring the local area. I did the crouch over a campfire bit when I was young, fun then, not now. I want the ac, microwave and the rest. The idea of a 10 inch screen on the radio is great, easier to see the backup screen and navigation system on a bigger screen. I use my RV like a moveable apartment and want it to be that way. They still make primitive units for you so you can go burn your marshmallows but most places I “camp” you cannot have an outdoor fire. As far as the all electric units, they have generators so you can have your electric going anywhere. I do agree with you about the RV parks being more and more difficult to find spaces in. Our group of about 20 rigs used to have no problem finding spaces – together and the parks were glad for the extra money. Now with most of the parks converting to residence parks it is hard to find a place for the group, especially in season here in Florida. I understand, and if I were an owner of a park having someone booked in for six months or a full year vs a week would be an easy choice but it does make it harder for those of us who want to move around.

    1. Booneyrat

      Maybe y’all can “gang up” in back of a truck stop parking lot..at least the diesel smoke will keep the skeeters away. Many of us sold our homes and live full time in our RV’s because we choose to,after all is this not America..land of the free because of the brave?

    2. Chuck Woodbury

      Patricia, there are a million other RVers like you, who are totally done with roughing it and enjoy all the amenities of a comfy RV. And great for them, most work hard and deserve to live the life they earned. There just are not enough places for you all to stay, and still leave room for the more transient crowd to have a place to stay when traveling from place to place. And it will just get worse.

      1. Patrick Granahan

        Chuck, As the market gets flooded with newbies and they realize that that beautiful campsite on the isolated lakefront exists only in a RV TV commercial the marketplace will be flooded with almost new slightly used RVs at bargain prices !

        Just attended a Vintage RV Show….great to see the way things were…units built between 1948 and the 1960s without bathrooms without hot and cold showers…just the basics.
        Back in the day A/C was a wall mounted fan…..wonder if the current crop of new “campers” could handle real camping….just one step above sleeping on the ground in a tent.

        I enjoy your reports…keep them coming!!!

    3. OnWeGo

      I was going to post, but then I saw yours, and I thought, no need now.

      At the same time, Chuck is correct. I have a 5-year loan on a modest but comfortable half ton towable trailer in which I have small upside equity. It and its fake fireplace do us just fine.

      But if I had the coin, would I spring for all the toys? Sure. Because who needs a Masaerati or a Rolex or a Shiloh 45-100 or a Viking stove? And yet, there they all are.

      America. Land of the free those who presume to tell me what my needs are. (And I don’t include you in this group, Chuck. Far from it.)

  28. Rob

    1993 Gulfstream Innsbruck 5th Wheel 26′ and we love it, no slid outs to worry about leaking, no power jacks to fail, all arm strong. Never leaked and in better condition than most units 5 years old. IMHO you would have to be a brick short of a load to get a 7 % loan on a rolling depreciating asset that will fail apart long before you can say bankrupt again. The big market crash is coming again and this industry is going to be hit like a ton of bricks.

  29. Willie

    My RV is 100% solar and one fuel, diesel. Webasto diesel cooktop and Webasto diesel air and water heater and a 12 volt Artic Air AC, 12 volt refrigerator. No generator!! I couldn’t be happier.

    The Thor Class A with a 200 watt solar system, what a sham. That’s going to charge the start batteries and barely tickle the house batteries. If a Class A doesn’t have enough solar to boondock for a few days, why even offer solar?

  30. Bob Godfrey

    Love it! Keep up the good work Chuck! BTW, I’ll keep my 19 year old Newmar Mountain Aire with those old fashioned push buttons (so labor intensive!) until it falls apart, which will be quite awhile if you ask me. And we purchased it at 10 years old without those wonderful 20 year loans too! Also, is there an app for common sense? I wish someone would develop one.

  31. MR ED LAUX

    Great article on the insane new “important” gadgets coming out on those expensive Class A’s. I laughed so much on your candor !! I feel exactly the same. I’m going read it again !!

  32. Eric

    Chuck-
    Your points are, as always, well taken, especially if you ignore young buyer’s needs and manufacturer’s desire to fill those needs. Your constant lament about a bygone era suggests that YOU are the one that’s out of touch. Millennials love electronics, and RV makers will give them what they want in spite of your old-fashioned notions about the “camping” experience. Give it a rest before you lose many of your subscribers.

    1. David Lee

      I’m with you, Eric. I live fulltime in my 5th wheel and I’ve yet to “camp” with it, or to even sit in front of a campfire. I didn’t build fires when I owned a house; why would I now? I’m 60 years old and I love all the gadgets and electronics in my coach. When they break down, I’ll fix them.

  33. Rick

    All I can say is I’m still driving and camping in my 1997 Newmar. That’s 21 yrs. Wonder how many of these new RVs will still be on the road in 21 yrs. I venture to say not many if any.

  34. Troy

    I for one happen to love my 2017 Thor Challenger 37LX that I’ve been living in for over a year now! I wish that It had an induction stove and the tilt a bed that they put in the 2018’s. I actually heat my RV with my fake fireplace using the electricity that comes with the site that I’m staying in rather than pay for propane. Yes I do have a 20 year loan at 4.99%(which isn’t really a new thing…they’ve been around for at least the last 25 years) and the interest is tax deductible like a home loan. I also have two houses with 30 year loans, but I don’t hear anyone complaining about that type of a loan. I happen to love my residential fridge too. I spent more than my fair share of time “roughing it a.k.a boondocking” during my 20 years in the Marine Corps, so I prefer to have full hookups. If I do have to stay a night somewhere without full hookups I do have a very quiet generator that will keep all my electrical devices going. I do like your newsletter, and your war on the RV industry to produce more quality over quantity, but reading this article just tells me I need to learn more about electronics so I can fix them. Keep up the good work Chuck!

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Hi Troy, a loan on a home and an RV are different animals: one is an appreciating asset (in most cases), the other a depreciating asset (all the time). We realize at RVtravel.com that not everybody is having a horrible time out there in RV Land — in fact most are enjoying their RVing very much. But far too many RVers are having serious issues, and that’s what we really need to address. There are plenty of other websites that tell only the rosy side of things, and good for them, because for 80 percent of RVers that’s the reality. Twenty-year loans may have been around for a long time (I was never offered one in the past), but they were not the standard as they seem to be today.

      1. Troy

        Thanks for the reply! By the way the first house I bought lost over half it’s value in the first three years and took ten more years to get back to its original value. I still own it and rent it out trying to recover some cost, and hopefully will be able to get some kind of marginal profit out of it before the next recession drops it’s value again.

        1. Chuck Woodbury

          Troy, no RV will lose its value and then bounce back in value ten years later. Yes, recessions happen. Just wait until the next one. I pity all those RVers with 20 year loans whose income will drop, or will lose their jobs. They’ll need to unload their RVs because they can no longer afford the payments. Good luck to them.

          1. Glenda Alexander

            Chuck, I wonder how many of those RVers with 20-year loans have read or are reading your newsletters. Maybe, if they had been reading the newsletters, they would have known better than to get those long-term loans in the first place. And, then…maybe not. This is not much different than people who buy houses way out of proportion to their income and then can’t pay their mortgage.

    2. RNGR94

      ^what Troy said

  35. STEPHEN P MALOCHLEB

    Chuck,you couldn’t be more right. I work in the auto industry, all this high tech gadgetry. When it’s new and works it’s great. But when it breaks down, it can be a nightmare to repair. Not to mention the cost. If your gonna rely on technology, I sure hope they’ll put in some manual overrides. Otherwise your just gonna be parked, lost, and confused. And at the speed there building these rigs, you can be sure there will be failures. The KISS factor is still the best. Keep It Simple Stupid!!!!!!!

  36. John Snell

    Chuck,
    All they are doing is incorporating this app driven world into the RV industry. Why? Because people want it. Of course you don’t need it . Who feels the need to adjust the temperature of your refrigerator in your home if your a thousand miles away ?. I certainly dont, my world isn’t driven by apps. Bezos of Amazon isn’t worth 134B because people don’t like push button shopping. By pushing Amazon on this site your silently complicit. I’m not saying it’s bad ,it’s the times we live in. Agreed, the quality of rvs and financing terms are rediculous.

  37. John Maddox

    The RV mentioned here might appeal to the new RV buyers as they are not the same generation. At the same time they are probably producing other not as tech equipped RVs for other buyers. Thor is a company who wants to appeal to a broad base of people and not just be a niche maker who only appeals to people who want to get off the grid. And Thor has many brands in its umbrella. This may have already been one of the higher end brands anyway

  38. robert austin

    What would happen if a new builder came in to the market place and built a honest to goodness RV. Would it sell and appeal to the real people that want a RV or are they so blind that all they want is bling. Now a days we look to find RVs built before the crash because the are built better and have better layouts. In 10 years these new units will be toast and people will still owe 10 years on them.

    1. Mark Birnbaum

      Chuck, I respect and understand your views and this is your soapbox but you admit you are driving away advertisers.

      Is Camping World and CEO less than perfect? Sure. Let’s agree they are not much worse than the average new/used sales, leasing, real estate and banking companies. Some industries are more heavily regulated, so they can’t get away with as much. Camping World did not invent usury or even the technique of focusing on the payment. Buyer beware. Chuck, you’ve said about all you can about this company and person.

      Is there a shortage of RV overnight spaces, especially during summer vacation months in the most popular regions? You betcha. Did you try to get a ticket to see Hamilton? It’s supply and demand. If you wanted a good seat, and you wanted it sooner rather than later, you paid a hefty price.

      I just drove across I-90, I-84 and I-94. In the 2,000 miles, I didn’t see one full RV park or campground. In the eastern suburb of Portland, just off I-84, I counted 18 RVs, plus stealth vans/sprinters that were probably serving as RVs. This was at noon. These people weren’t just taking an overnight break. One RV had a tarp over the roof, yet it hadn’t rained for 3 days and none was expected. There were 2 open RV parks within 2 miles, and lots more camping/RV parks in the next 36 miles of the Columbia River Gorge. Ironically, just across the road, at 238th Drive was a VERY large Camping World. Beautiful boulevard in front of the property with NO PARKING signs every 50′. Do I blame the city or Camping World for not providing parking – nope. If it made business/financial sense for the city or CW, then there would be parking. Walmart tolerated significant use of their parking lot. It was like a wagon train with RVs parked helter skelter. I did note Portland was very tolerant to tent encampments (or just street sleeping) in just about in any area, even if posted no camping. Much of the problem is the perception that overnight rates should on be $15-$20. I agree, and the best steak dinner should only be $15-$20, but it’s not. You have to pay market rate.

      In two locations along my route, I noted an RV park at the rear of the parking lot of motel/hotel (shared egress). In both cases they were separate entities. However, for one RV park, the motel also collected the camping fee, if no attendant was there. I was asking myself why the bare bones campground was charging $42 for full hookup, and the hotel with pool, spa and breakfast was only $72 (price could be much higher depending on day and occupancy). This was Montana, and that RV park would only have customers for a few more weeks and then nothing for 6-7 months. Different business models. The motel would probably run at 40-80 occupancy over the entire year.

      Of the RV parks I could see from the Interstate (or drive around), it didn’t look like anybody was getting wealthy. Some had gone bust. Some for sale. Some had seen better days. One had added some tiny home hybrids. That RV park, gas station, store and ice cream/gift shop was for sale. I’ll agree this was northern season camping, and the real estate and RV parks in wintering locations are far different. Once again, supply and demand. I’d love to find an RV park on Key West for $15-$20. I’d settle for 30amps and only dumping once a week. Do you think anybody could operate one of those? Heck, I’ve been in areas in California and the Keys where the town doesn’t want any tourists to do their wash. They just don’t have the water treatment facilities to support the load. As a visiting RVer, we aren’t invested in the community and we don’t get a vote. I accept that.

      After reading your newsletter, forums, and observing, I do see a pressing issue. The manufacturer warranty issue resolution and lemon laws are just not good enough for RVs. If my auto has an issue, I am not at the mercy of Bosch (who made the starter), or Corning (who made the glass). I don’t have to worry about separate warranty periods for each component. If I bought a Fiat Chrysler product, I can take it their dealers and they diagnose and fix. If the vehicle has continued unresolved issues, the lemon law is clear. Relatively few cars hit that threshold. I believe the penalty of having to take back the vehicle is a strong incentive for the manufacture to resolve my issues promptly. RVs have a long way to go before the consumer coverage matches what we get from the auto manufacturers and their dealers. Let’s get up on the soapbox for that. Hold hands with legislative sponsors and put RV manufacturers and dealers on notice we are looking for a better accountability. We aren’t trying to force them to go broke, we are just trying to get a little bit of muscle to help them focus on quality and repair. Let’s make this the number #1 soapbox issue.

      1. Kevin in MN

        @Mark Birnbaum – thank you for the most thoughtful and well reasoned response I’ve seen published regarding both the ongoing demonization of CW and the hand-wringing about RV quality.
        It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to uncover a good deal of ill-will towards Mr Lemons for his political views rather than his business practices. I’m amazed at how many “free market” proponents want to regulate him out of business while shaming his success as a capitalist. Beyond that, the current sad state of RV quality (I too didn’t complain until my expensive new Winnebago TT flooded due to a design flaw) is a function of corporate lobbying influencing lawmakers and is unlikely to improve without financial penalties for perpetrators. You can vilify Ralph Nader but U.S. automakers upped their game when it became unacceptable for them to produce products designed to fail. Removing the current prohibitions to seek damages for faulty, often unsafe products will go a long way towards improving RV design and durability.

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