Back and picking up a new generation of eager fans just wanting to hit the road are recreational vehicles (RVs), caravans, campervans or motorhomes – whatever size they are.
After the euro zone debt crisis of 2013 and the financial crash of 2008 and with consumers once again opting for these “big-ticket items”, Europe has seen a resurgence in leisure vehicle purchases.
Registering its highest sales in seven years, the European motorcaravan and caravan market did exceedingly well in 2016, the latest numbers from the European Caravan Federation (ECF) show.
In a trend that, ECF says, reflects the continued popularity of caravan camping and travel in Europe as a whole, it reported a robust gain of 10.6 percent as a total of 170,064 leisure vehicles were newly registered in Europe in 2016.
While Great Britain showed a 6.6 percent rise with 9,770 new vehicles registered y-o-y in the first quarter of this year, Germany – the largest market for leisure vehicles – saw a 6 percent year-on-year rise with 14,366 new registrations. And with Germany seeing just a 2 percent rise in the first half of 2017, and the U.K. seeing a contraction, this trend comes as car sales in both countries remain weak.
new vacation habits with people tending to take shorter trips, a rebranding and a change in attitude towards RVs, and buoyant consumer sentiment are the driving factors. As more and more holiday-goers made the most of cheap flights and package deals, RVs or campers fell out of favor in the 1980s and 1990s even as they may have reached their zenith in the 1970s. But with a new younger fanbase that could potentially be spending cash in the sector for many years to come, that trend appears to be changing.
According to John Lally, the director general of the NCC, a U.K. trade body for motorhome, caravan holiday home and park home industries, now successfully appealing to a younger audience are certain sectors of the motorhome market – particularly van conversions and this is a “strong view” in the industry.
“In a recent small-scale survey we undertook at dealerships, 20 percent confirmed that they were seeing younger buyers purchasing motorhomes. There are a couple of obvious reasons for this – first vehicles, particularly the smaller ‘value’ models that offer a lot of flexibility, are being designed with a younger demographic in mind,” Lally said in a press statement on Wednesday,
The vehicles are made more affordable for young couples, due to new financing options, Lally said.
An entire sub-industry of companies that convert its commercial vans into habitable homes, has been spawned by Volkswagen – synonymous with the VW camper. However, several iterations of its new VW California campervan have been launched itself by the German automaker.
A brand-new vehicle can cost over £50,000 ($65,000), complete with all the latest gadgets and driving aids. With the Mercedes Marco Polo which can get even more expensive, Mercedes also joined the market a few years ago. And costing £900 ($1,170) for a top-of-the range California in peak season, a week-long rental might be a better option for those that don’t want to buy.
The California has really tapped into the “home is where you park it” vibe, said Kate Thompson, head of press and public relations at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
“In terms of millennials, this really appeals, with the addition of being able to share their experience via social media platforms, and potentially monetize their passion, in a way that wouldn’t have been possible previously,” she said.
“I receive regular correspondence from people (often under 35) who are giving up their jobs and taking themselves and their families off in a campervan to leave the rat race and find a new way of life. Beyond a vehicle it can enable a change of direction for people and offer new opportunities.”
(Adapted from CNBC)