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

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    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.

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    Jerome Rodgers

    So, trying to appeal to the latest generation is a bad thing? How about those of us with a disability that prevents us from doing things physically but where electronics enable us to go RVing. I get that this is different for you but why not focus on the positive items, if any? I’m a 100% disabled veteran and I’m new to arriving and limit myself to renting RVs until I can determine which RV will enable my adventures without aggravating my chronic pain. Change is hard for me too, especially as I grow older. I do appreciate your opinion.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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…

    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

    Randall Davis

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

    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. 😉

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 !!!!

    Jeff

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

    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.

    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.

    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!