EDITOR’S NOTE: RVtravel.com is regularly invited to participate in nationwide conference calls with large RV dealers and others involved in the sales and servicing of RVs. We won’t be directly naming those on the call, nor the dealerships involved. While the situation is unusual, we feel the value of the candid comments and information that we can share with you outweighs the lack of the usual attribution. This time, you’ll just have to trust us that the quotes come from trusted, vetted sources.
If you’re in the market to buy a new RV, you might want to wait a bit. RV dealers on a recent nationwide conference call said the quality of most recreational vehicles now being produced is “pathetic.”
“It’s some of the worst stuff I’ve seen in 30 years,” said one longtime RV dealer. “It’s horrendous inside and out. But we have no recourse but to put it on the lot and try to sell it. You take what you can get, and you move on.”
The dealer said he suspects many longtime RVers are delaying purchasing a new rig, since it’s no secret – at least on social media and many blogs – that new RV owners aren’t happy with their purchases. “The lack of quality and all of the negative comments in the chat rooms have to be holding people back from moving forward with a purchase.”
The East Coast dealer said RV manufacturers are “building them as fast as they can, and there just isn’t any quality control. Manufacturers are not doing a good job of taking care of their customers. It’s gone from bad to worse.”
Will the industry topple?
One West Coast dealer echoed those thoughts. “My greatest fear now is watching the motorized RV industry get toppled,” he said. “They just don’t have the expertise to complete a motorhome in Northern Indiana anymore. Their labor force has no eye for quality and they have no way of teaching it. The industry is ripe for someone else to step in and start producing quality products, but it will likely have to be someplace other than Indiana. Right now, if the workers there get upset by something, they just walk off because it’s easy to get a job in Elkhart right now.”
He cited one manufacturer who admitted that he usually has no idea what his workforce will look like from week to week. “He said on Mondays, he never knows who is going to show up.”
A New England dealer said some manufacturers are only running their plants three to four days a week due to shortages in both parts and labor. “The quality that is coming out is just terrible,” he said. “Their ability to retain employees is bad. You can just tell that the guys on the manufacturing lines have been on the job for just a week. Plants don’t have the proper staffing, and they can’t do the service after the sale.”
Even newbies notice the poor quality
It isn’t just dealers who have noticed the drop in quality. “I had one newbie who purchased what they thought was the Taj Mahal of RVs,” said one dealer. “They take their first trip with it, and they come back in with 40 different problems with it. Then, I get to tell them they have to wait weeks or even months to get it fixed because nobody can get the parts.”
All of this angst on the part of dealers comes at a time when manufacturers are celebrating their success in producing record numbers of units.
The industry is projecting it will produce nearly 580,000 rigs by the end of 2021, and set a new record in 2022 with more than 600,000 new factory shipments.
“Continued robust demand for RVs, the need for RV dealers to restock historically low inventories, the strong financial standing of consumers, and sustained interest in the outdoors will work to keep RV shipments elevated,” said the RV Industry Association in a recent press release.
“Faced with many of the same kinds of supply chain and labor issues plaguing most industries over the past year, the RV industry has overcome these challenges and produced a record number of RVs month after month,” said Jeff Rutherford, President & CEO of Airxcel and RV Industry Association Chairman.
COMING NEXT SUNDAY: Roadside assistance companies stretched thin by huge growth in RVers and lack of available service centers