The Truth Behind Expensive RV’s
At the beginning of summer 2020, RV prices began to skyrocket. I own a 2014 Roadtreck van, on a Mercedes Sprinter short chassis. Purchased for about 120,000, and, like most automotive vehicles, the van depreciated. At the start of 2021, I would have been able to list it for about 80,000 dollars, but because of coronavirus, all of a sudden people wanted to vacation in something other than hotels. The price skyrocketed to around 100,000 dollars, for a second-hand van that is 6 years old, has almost 100k miles, and is about as long and wide as a Chevy suburban. So, this just begs the question…From the purchase price to the aftermarket value, why are Class B’s so expensive, and why is demand so high? One of the reasons class B’s have high demand is their fierce reliability. Not including the engine, not much ever goes wrong. With scarce exceptions: constant leaks, appliance malfunctions, or electrical fires are not really something class B owners experience.
A factor that attracted me to buying a class B was its convenience. I use it as a daily driver, more so than I do for actual camping trips, because of the size. It can be brought skiing, long nights at sports practice and even the airport. It has solar panels that charge the battery so backseat passengers can watch TV all day long without it draining. It has a bathroom-shower combo, a basically fully equipped kitchen, as well as a couch that folds into a bed. However, all these items that were just mentioned, and more, can be purchased with a travel trailer that can be bought lightly used for less than 30 grand. But, these cheap trailers have many flaws. One being overall quality. The trailers are passed down as assembly line, with workers throwing pieces together. If one worker messes their job up then they will likely have created a domino effect, causing any additional parts put on to have a high probability of being flawed. This leads to customer's walls flying off, windows shattering, couches falling through the floors, electrical fires, or sewer and drinking water lines being switched. While these may all sound extreme, it happens frequently, which makes buying these popular lightweight travel trailer brands a poor investment. And don't even count on customer service, because they know exactly how their products are made so usually won't be much help. This is why most of these trailers nowadays only last about a year. To actually get a reliable travel trailer, most people have to spend upwards of sixty to a hundred thousand dollars, which is quite a lot, considering they don't have a motor. This may give some future RV buyers some perspective. Now, class B’s and travel trailers are not the only type of RV’s. We also still have class A’s, C’s, and fifth wheels. Unfortunately, it's the same deal on quality with all of them. If you want to get a reliable and decent RV, then you'll have to steer clear of the cheapest one. This wasn’t always the case though. A good example is Jayco. Jayco earned a name for themselves back in the late 1900s to early 2000s. But now they are one of the brands you think of when someone says the RV industry is a dying business. I don’t believe this though, because it's clearly not, but it certainly is an industry that has most brands just trying to turn over as many units as possible.
Finding a perfect RV for you is near impossible. All of them have compromises. The bigger you go, the more space you may have to pay for storage or to stay at a campground. You also can’t really use them for anything other than camping. And in most cases buying a fifth-wheel trailer means buying a separate truck for hauling. And, the smaller you go, the less space you get, but you gain more convenience for using it in your everyday life. RV’s are lots of fun, but always do research before buying one, and never buy one at an auction. More to come on that in a later article.