Chinese RV Sales Grow; U.S. OEMs Tap Market
While stuck in traffic on the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway last year, Yin Ximin decided he’d been smart to buy a recreational vehicle.
“An RV makes long trips less painful. We can lounge around, have drinks, listen to music — and use the bathroom,” aid Yin, 48, who owns an advertising firm in Beijing.
As reported by Bloomberg News, back in Beijing Yin uses his 19-foot (6-meter) motorhome from manufacturer Shandong Dream Trip RV Co. to fetch clients from the airport and schmooze on the way back into the increasingly gridlocked city, where the number of registered cars has more than tripled since 2000.
As more Chinese embrace automobile culture, foreign RV makers are expanding in China. Researcher 21RV.com estimates the number of motorhomes in China will surge from about 9,000 to 800,000 in the 10 years to 2022. The U.S. has some 9.6 million RVs on its roads, according to 21RV.
Winnebago Industries Inc., based in Forest City, Iowa, began working in 2011 with dealers in Beijing and several other cities, selling several models. Thor Industries Inc., the Elkhart, Ind.-based owner of the Airstream brand, started selling its distinctive silver camping trailers from a Beijing dealership in March.
“Foreign RV brands are still little-known to Chinese consumers,” sales manager Zhang Minrui said by phone from a Winnebago dealership in Dalian. He declined to give sales figures, though he said “demand will no doubt continue to expand in coming years as more people take self-drive vacations.”
Germany’s Dethleffs GmbH & Co. started selling imported RVs and caravan trailers this year from showrooms in several Chinese cities. The RVs can sleep six, said Surana Chen, president of its Chinese operations.
“High-end RVs are new symbols of status and success, like yachts and private jets,” said Chen. “Demand for RVs for business use has been way beyond our expectations.”
Great Wall Motor Co., China’s biggest SUV maker, and pick-up truck maker Xinkai Automobile Group Co., also have started making motorhomes and touring coaches that can be substantially cheaper than the imports.
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