The RV industry has seen consistent growth every year since 2009.
And with the popularity of #vanlife, a huge spike in Gen-Z and millennial RV owners, and outdoor recreation nearing a trillion-dollar industry, the future seems bright.
Or is it?
Recent downward sales trends have many economic forecasters wondering what the future will hold for the RV industry.
In this report, we look at the current state of the RV industry by identifying key statistics, trends, and facts.
Did you know…
61% of Americans report they are planning a road trip or vacation in an RV in 2023, which is a 13% rise from 2022, according to Wakefield Research.
Why the RV Industry is Growing Despite a Sales Slump
Recreational vehicles, or RVs, are one of the most convenient ways to travel and camp. Most RVs come equipped with modern home comforts, such as a kitchen, dining area, and bathroom.
RVs are arguably the most efficient way to put your whole life on wheels. And it’s one of the best ways to travel the country on your own time.
In fact, according to RVShares 2023 Travel Trend Report conducted by Wakefield Research, 50% of survey participants revealed an RV or motorhome was one of their top travel accommodation preferences due to the following benefits:
- 61% cite the benefit of having a kitchen
- 60% cite the benefit of having less pressure to arrive and depart at a specific time
- 60% cite the ability to add detours and stops
Pandemic Fueled Growth
Furthermore, aside from the recent explosion of people living in campervans (#vanlife on Instagram passed 14.2 million as of 2023), the pandemic fueled an RV vacation boom from mid-2020 to late 2021, as many vacationers opted to travel and stay in RVs instead of boarding crowded planes and staying in cramped hotels.
RVing provides a sense of control and safety while traveling, something unique to the Covid era, compared to living out of a backpack or staying in hotels.
RV campers can easily socially distance themselves when they need space. The ability to set up camp near wilderness areas and less populated towns was a huge plus for many pandemic-weary travelers.
Another bonus is the option to prepare and cook meals independently while on the move (no need to eat at crowded restaurants).
Economic Uncertainty Fuels Camping Growth
While inflation, economic uncertainty, and a post-pandemic return to normal travel have slowed the sales of new RVs (more on that later), the camping outlook in 2023 and beyond is very promising, according to Campspot CEO Michael Scheinman.
“Despite, or even because of, current economic uncertainty, both current and new, younger campers are eager to take even more trips next year to experience the unique benefits that nature has to offer,” Scheinman said. “We are also seeing travelers turn to camping as a means of keeping costs down as other costs rise.
Economic uncertainty may also be the reason for a bullish outlook on RV travel, as it’s one of the more affordable ways to vacation.
Important RV Industry Statistics
Whether you’re looking to rent or invest in an RV (or even an RV park), it’s crucial to have a bird’s-eye view of the overall RV market.
Let’s simplify your RV deep dive with some stats.
A Closer Look at Recent RV Industry Trends
The RV and camping industry’s spike in 2020 continued in 2021, with over 66 million people camping in the US and over 8.3 million trying it for the first time, according to this 2022 camping report. Collectively, campers spent nearly $44 billion in local communities while on their camping trips.
In 2021, 1 in 5 Amercians went camping
But how did the Coronavirus affect the RV industry? Here’s a glimpse into the mindset of Americans during the pandemic:
- An Ipsos research survey found that 20% of respondents were more interested in RV living as a direct result of COVID-19, and 51% of all respondents who planned an RV trip in 2020 cited health concerns as the top reason why they were interested in RV camping.
- Not to be deterred by the coronavirus, one in four respondents planned to engage in an RV-related task over the next 12 months, such as taking an RV trip, buying or renting an RV, researching RVs online, or visiting a dealership.
- In March of 2020, the US Travel Association reported that 68% of people felt much safer traveling by personal vehicle than taking a domestic flight.
- Adding to that, those surveyed perceive RV parks and parklands to be safer areas than hotels, rental homes, bars, and restaurants.
How Many RVs Sell Each Year?
The pandemic transformed how we think about travel, which was prevalent in the increase in RV sales. The RV Industry Association’s October 2020 survey reported that total RV shipments increased 21.4% year-over-year, the second-highest October increase on record.
Fast-forward to 2022, and you’ll notice that the big spike in RV shipments continues at the beginning of the year but gradually decreases as the months go by.
- A January 2022 survey of manufacturers found that 53,290 RVs were shipped, making it the best January in history. This was an increase of 16.0% compared to 45,930 RVs shipped in January 2021.
- By the time November 2022 rolled around, RV shipments were at roughly 24,445 units, a decrease of 50.4% compared to November 2021.
- Through November 2022, total RVs shipped reached only 472,691, down 15.6% compared to the same date range of the prior year.
Here’s a visualization of the downward trend of wholesale RV shipments.
It’s important to note that a downward trend in wholesale RV shipments does not suggest a downward trend in the RV industry as a whole. And keep in mind 2022 was still one of the best years financially for RV manufacturers.
What is the Most Popular Type of RV?
Through November of 2022, the RVIA reported 472,691 RV shipments, breaking down to:
|RV Type||Through Nov ’22||% Change from ’21|
|Pop-up camping trailers||7,256||+0.3%|
|RV Type||Through Nov ’22||% Change from ’21|
Popular RV brands by type include:
- The RV Dealers Association tracks the most popular RV brands for each class. For travel trailers, Jayco takes the lead. Fifth wheels are the second most popular RV class, and Montana comes out on top for market share, with Reflection trailing not far behind.
- Class A RVs are a marvel among motorhomes, with the famous Winnebago holding the torch since 2017. Class B, or camper vans, are rising in popularity as people tighten their budgets. Winnebago dominates this segment as well, alongside the iconic Airstream.
- Class C RVs, constructed on truck chassis, are another budget option growing in popularity. Four Winds is the top brand in this class.
How Many RV Dealers and Campgrounds are in the US?
- The US Census Bureau listed 2,667 US-based RV dealers that produced $25.9 billion in sales in 2017.
- The US Economic Census lists 4,513 RV parks and campgrounds with employees, producing $2.4 billion in revenue in 2017. Californian RV parks had the highest sales that same year, while South Carolina produced the highest sales per park. Texas claimed the most RV parks, with a total of 376.
The above numbers don’t include the thousands of parks operated by the National Park Service, state and local governments, and governmental organizations.
The Census also leaves out free camping offered by some organizations (Boondockers Welcome) and services that pair RVers with homeowners and other types of businesses (Harvest Hosts). As an RVer, you genuinely have a smorgasbord of options.
How Many People in the US are Full-time RVers?
- Currently, about one million Americans live as full-time RVers.
- RV life is gaining serious attention. The 2020 North American Camping Report found that four in 10 campers are more interested in going full-time after the pandemic. One in 10 infrequent campers is considering full-time RVing.
- The report also found that travelers are eager to spend time outdoors with their friends and family. Also, 60% of travelers think it’s now critical for their kids to experience the great outdoors. The sentiment suggests a long-term growing interest in the RV lifestyle.
RV Sales Statistics by State
|State||RV Sales & Service|
More State Sales Statistics
- Indiana nearly corners the market for RVs and RV component national shipments, accounting for 67% of the $3.6 billion market. Elkhart, Indiana, the world’s RV capital, produces about 80% of all recreational vehicles.
- RV dealers in Maryland reported the most significant average sales per company in 2017.
RV Ownership Statistics
According to the Go RVing RV Owner Demographic Profile:
- RV ownership has increased by over 62% in the last twenty years, with 11.2 million RV-owning households as of 2021.
- 18-34 year olds make up 22 percent of RV owners, up from 8.47% in 2018.
- 9.6 million households intend to purchase an RV in the next five years.
- The median annual usage for current RV owners is roughly 20 days, while those intending to buy an RV plan to use it roughly 25 days per year.
According to RVIA, a typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, with an annual household income of $62,000.
RV Buying Statistics
While getting into the RV lifestyle can be done on a tight budget, buying an RV will likely be your biggest expense.
Class A RVs, for example, could be the best option for long-term RVing. However, a Class A unit will set you back between $50,000 to $300,000+ on average for a new model.
Here’s a look at the average cost of an RV by type.
|Type||Average Cost (New)|
|Class-A||$50,000 – $300,000|
|Class-B (Camper van)||$70,000 – $150,000|
|Class-C||$50,000 – $150,000|
|Travel trailer||$20,000 – $75,000|
|5th wheel||$35,000 – $125,000|
|Pop-up camper/Teardrop||$10,000 – $20,000|
|Truck Camper||$5,000 – $50,000|
Tip: Buying an RV at the best time can also save you thousands of dollars.
Buying a used camper or RV is a good option if you’re familiar with all the warranties and checklists involved. Here’s a rundown of the average cost of a used RV by type.
|Type||Average Cost (Used)|
|Class-A||$30,000 – $175,000|
|Class-B (Camper van)||$40,000 – $115,000|
|Class-C||$30,000 – $75,000|
|Travel trailer||$10,000 – $50,000|
|5th wheel||$30,000 – $100,000|
|Pop-up camper/Teardrop||$2,000 – $15,000|
|Truck Camper||$1,000 – $30,000|
Many people opt to rent an RV before taking the plunge into full-time RV life. It’s a great way to roam the country in style and within a reasonable budget.
RV Rental Statistics
RV rental costs on average $81 to $129 a night for towable RVs and $209 per night for drivable RVs, depending on whether you rent through a rental company or a peer-to-peer rental service. Popular peer-to-peer options include RVshare and Outdoorsy.
The type of RV, extra services, and fees can quickly make RVing expensive, especially if you’re traveling short-term or not splitting costs with others. Weekly and monthly deals can often bring the price down. Pop-up campers, travel trailers, truck campers, and fifth wheels are the most affordable RVs to rent and own.
How does renting an RV compare to owning one?
A study by Go RV Rentals in 2020 shows that an $80,000 Class-C motorhome’s cost for 20 days of usage is $911 per day, factoring in the total cost of ownership. Compare that to an average rate of $215 per day for renting a comparable RV.
Many RV parks cost as little as $5 per night and come with laundry, electric hook-ups, gyms, and playgrounds for kids. Premium RV parks and resorts can cost you between $55 to $85+ per night, while state parks sell an annual pass for around $80 and $225.
On average, expect to spend between $20 to $30 per night in a private RV park. However, RV and camping memberships usually offer discounts. There are also plenty of free or nearly free camping options. Check out Free Campsites to find options near you.
Before trying to rent an RV, ensure you are of legal age. The minimum age to rent an RV in some states is 21, while in other states, you must be at least 25.
RV Accident Statistics
In 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported 75,000 injuries due to RV accidents.
Common causes of RV accidents include:
- Inexperienced drivers (most states do NOT require a special driver’s license or testing to drive an RV)
- Senior drivers (14% of RV drivers are over the age of 65)
- Driving over the speed limit
- Wind (High winds and sudden wind gusts)
- Exhaustion from driving for long periods of time
- Adding too much weight to the RV
- Travel trailers rolling away
- A High center of gravity causes rollovers
- Not properly calculating a turn
- Miscalculated stopping distances due to the vehicle being heavier and taking longer to stop
RV Service Technicians Employment Statistics
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 15,580 individuals employed as RV service technicians as of May 2019.
- The mean hourly wage is $20.03
- The mean annual wage is $41,660
News in the RV Industry
As the RV industry returned to somewhat normal operations, RV park owners and operators are doing everything possible to get back to business safely.
The reopening process saw prioritizing health and safety, more robust sanitation measures, and staff training on the new protocols. In a virtual conference of stakeholders in the RV industry, safety appeared as the primary concern for RV travelers in late 2020 and into 2021.
Now that the pandemic is in our rearview mirror let’s look at what’s happening around the RV and camping industry:
- We’re seeing more and more ultralightweight campers hit the market as the demand for towable trailers that are easy on the gas tank and/or can be pulled by electric vehicles grows. Aliner’s hard-sided popup campers, starting at 1200 pounds, are an example of this new industry norm.
- The RV show season hits the ground running in January 2023, with roughly 150 shows planned throughout the 2023 calendar year. Check out our RV show schedule to find an event near you.
- With the downturn in RV shipments dominating the news from Q2 2022 on, RV Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Jeff Rutherford reminded the industry that the year likely would finish as one of the five best financial years in history.
- RVIA President & CEO Craig Kirby reminds us that the “forecast shows the RV industry is continuing to normalize to pre-pandemic shipment levels” during 2023.
- The RV industry saw a few layoffs in 2022, with Keystone RV closing two plants in Goshen, Indiana, displacing 334 employees. Tiffin Motorhomes laid off dozens of employees at manufacturing plants in Belmont and Burnsville.
RV Market Long-Term Economic Impact
The current RV industry has a $140 billion annual economic impact on the US economy, supporting roughly 680,000 jobs and paying out $48 billion plus in wages.
The $140 billion annual economic impact includes:
- RV manufacturers and suppliers – $73.7 billion
- RV campgrounds and related travel – $35.7 billion
- RV sales and service activities – $30.5 billion
Future RV Industry Trends & Forecasts
- In 2023, forecasted RV shipments range between 409,000 to 429,000 units averaging a year-end total of 419,000, a roughly -16% decline from the 2022 total.
- RV prices will continue to decline into 2024 with the rise of economic inflation, lending rates, and diesel prices, with the exception of the more fuel-efficient Class-B camper vans.
What are the Top RV Destinations?
Data from Togo RV’s road trip planning app revealed the United States’ top destinations for planned RV vacations in 2021. The report includes the most popular resorts and campgrounds. It’s worth a look!
Top 10 most popular states for RVers in 2021:
- South Dakota
- New Mexico
The top 10 national parks in 2021 include:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Arches National Park
- Zion National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
*Utah and Arizona had the most planned visits.
2023 RV Report Conclusion
To sum up the current state of the RV industry:
As RV sales gravitate back to pre-pandemic numbers, we will continue to see a drop in new and pre-owned RV prices. With that said, while sales may return to normal, the desire to travel and stay in an RV is expected to grow, especially in the RV rental industry and sales of smaller RVs like Class-B camper vans.