2021: The Year Of The RV


The year 2021 is a record year for the recreational vehicle industry. Despite all the obstacles that the pandemic has thrown at manufacturers and travelers in the last two years, 2021 has been a phenomenal year for the sector.


RV makers have built more vehicles in 2021 than ever before. According to the RV Industry Association, shipments are projected to top 602,200 units in 2021, 40% more than the 2020 year-end total of 430,412 units. This year’s massive growth in production is also 19% higher than the last record high set in 2017.


2021 thumbs upThe RV sector in 2021 isn’t just smashing records because manufacturers are producing more. There’s also an unprecedented desire to travel in an RV. Around 72 million Americans plan to go RVing in an RV they own, rent, or borrow in the next year. That’s 11 million more people when compared to a survey done last fall. Furthermore, according to KOA in their December Monthly Research Report, more than 8 million households plan to do some form of winter camping.


Although RV sales have been steadily growing for decades, with 62% more RV owners in 2021 than in 2001, the strong demand began early in the pandemic. After being cooped up for months, people started yearning for the outdoors and began looking for ways to travel without the risks of staying in motels or riding in airplanes.


For many, RVing was seen as the safest option to explore places near and far. In fact, 99% of people said they feel safe traveling in an RV. Even after most pandemic restrictions were lifted, the RV industry continued to witness exponential growth as more Americans began a quest to rediscover the great outdoors and harvest its health benefits. According to Outdoorsy, around 67% of their web traffic in 2021 stemmed from first-time RVers. This trend will carry on as more people realize heading outside in an RV means endless possibilities for adventure.


The joy and convenience of traveling in a vehicle equipped with all the comforts of a home and being able to control your own schedule is another reason that’s attracting more RV buyers and renters. In 2022, travelers are expected to continue prioritizing factors like cleanliness, safety, and convenience when deciding how to vacation. This desire for self-contained travel will continue increasing demand for new RVs and rental rigs.


The rise in remote working in 2021 has also afforded more people the freedom to adventure more without sacrificing their jobs. People who were held back by their jobs are now buying RVs and working on the road. Also, there’s a greater awareness that RVs are not just for retirees. Millennials and middle-aged couples are increasingly falling in love with RVing. Today, 22 percent of RV owners are aged between 18 and 34 years.


In 2020, the RV ownership landscape started to become more diverse. Taking a look at first-time owners who purchased their RV in 2020, 13% identify as Black, an improvement from 6% of owners who bought their first RV 1-5 years ago. Asian and Hispanic RV owners have also increased to 5% and 6%, respectively.


The record industry growth isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. You can expect even more RVs to head to dealer lots in 2022 than ever before. A recent analysis projects an RV shipment increase of 2% in 2022 to 613,700 units.