‘Rogue’ RV OEMs Find Niche in Offroad Market
The term “Recreational Vehicle” may by a misnomer, a bit of mid-century ad-speak designed to make hanging out in parking lots sound appealing, but if a few rogue RV makers have their way, the house-on-wheels industry may be in for a radical change.
As reported by the Men’s Journal, an increasing number of Offroad RVs are rolling off production lines, up mountains, across deserts, and right past traditional drive-in campgrounds.
“Think of them as a fully-stocked basecamp on wheels,” says Bill Swails, who created the EarthRoamer line, perhaps the most off-road capable RVs on the planet. “We’re building expedition vehicles.
The innovation isn’t just driven by the what – massive, luxurious spaces stacked on oversized wheels – but by the who. Swails’ audience isn’t surburban middle management. He wants to tap into the growing group of Americans who bag fourteeners and want to get outdoors, 44 million of whom went tent camping last year.
“My last buyer was this guy who was going to drive around the country chasing big storms so he could ski the freshest, best powder in the backcountry all across the states and Canada,” says Swails. “The EarthRoamer appealed to him because it’s essentially a condo on wheels that can go most places, regardless of the weather.”
The difference between these RVs and grandma-and-grandpa rigs starts from the ground up. Your typical RV is a luxury liner, but it’s also a cumbersome, rear-wheel-drive beast that requires wide, pristine roads and spacious parking spots. The average off-road RV’s chassis is far more compact and agile. It might include 4-wheel drive, oversized tires, and even lift kits. For example, the EarthRoamers are built on the chassis of a Ford 550 or 650 4X4 pickup truck.
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