China’s RV Industry Grows; U.S. OEMs ‘Wary’
The recreational vehicle lifestyle is gaining a die-hard fan-base in China.
International Business Times reported that the American dream of living on the open road, seeing the country on your own set of wheels, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city is also becoming a Chinese dream.
Granted, China remains behind even its much smaller neighbors South Korea and Japan in RV numbers, but it is quickly catching up. In 2001, there was only one single, lonely RV in the entire country. By 2010, there were 900 on the road. By the end of 2012, there are expected to be 6,000.
But even if the Chinese appear to be seduced by the American image of motorhome ownership, some U.S. RV makers are still wary of doing business in China.
Peter Orthwein, the CEO Thor Industries Inc., said in an interview that there was still “too much uncertainty” in the China market for him to want to open up facilities there or enter into a joint venture with a Chinese company. Too many complex factors, such as regional Chinese laws against civilians towing vehicles, remain barriers to making a more significant investment, in Orthwein’s opinion.
“The market is growing, but a long ways away,” said Orthwein. Even if it were more developed, Orthwein asked, “Why do they need us?” Chinese companies could “copy the technology and do it themselves,” he says.
Chinese companies are eager to market their own towable and motorized designs against famed Western makers like Winnebago. China’s super-rich have been eager to import larger U.S.-made caravans, but the purchases are mostly meant to impress business partners and rivals rather than to actually be taken on road trips.
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