New RV Trends to Watch for in 2012

"Right-sizing" was the hot topic at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky last month. At the annual year-end show, 67 RV manufacturers trotted out their new 2012 models, showcasing new developments in the RV industry and revealing emerging RV trends. To accommodate an increasingly diverse RV buyer pool, RV makers are starting to mix and match amenities to create a variety of standard-option packages at a wide range of price points, allowing RV buyers to choose "the right size RV" for their lifestyle and budget. In tandem with right sizing is a trend toward greater customization. Many of the pick-and-choose options typically offered in luxury RV models are beginning to filter down the production chain, allowing buyers of more modest RVs to create unique personalized living spaces.

The general trend in the RV industry is toward smaller, lighter, greener, cheaper RVs as RV manufacturers move to make recreational vehicles more budget-friendly and financially accessible to a broader range of consumers. At the same time, consumer demand for RV customization continues to rise. RV buyers crave the freedom to create unique, personalized living spaces. In response, RV manufacturers are offering buyers a wider range of options and luxury amenities as standard features in mid-range and even some economy RVs.

Some of the other interesting trends to emerge from the RVIA trade show include:

  • Greater use of light-weight construction materials to cut fuel consumption and make RVs more budget-friendly.
  • The continuing development of light-weight, composite construction components, moving the RV industry one step closer to its goal of producing a new class of smaller, lighter travel trailers that can be towed by the average family sedan.
  • Adoption of green construction strategies to minimize energy consumption, including more efficient thermal barriers, improved solar panels, tinted windows and installation of Energy Star appliances.
  • Increased use of sustainable materials both in core construction and interior décor.
  • The introduction of L-shaped floor plans to create more interesting interiors.
  • Up-sizing of kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate full-size appliances, full-size tub/showers and dual sinks.
  • Use of picture and panoramic windows to improve interior lighting and bring the outdoors in.
  • Installation of LED lighting on dimmer switches.
  • Increased use of vertical space and specialized built-ins (knife safes, door caddies, accordion-style pantries) to maximize storage space.
  • Factory integration of advanced technology, including wireless capability, elaborate entertainment systems, HD capability, satellite prep, HDMI routers and plug-in charging stations.
  • Insulated/heated holding tanks and on-demand water heaters.
  • Remote control-operated power awnings, stairs, tongue jack, stabilizing jacks and slides.

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