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RVs taking nation's roads, parks by storm

By LI FUSHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-03 10:13
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Vacationers enjoy their time at a recreational vehicle (RV) campsite outside the city of Yichang, Hubei province, in May 2021. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Significant market potential for sector driven by low base, wanderlust

Last May Day holiday, Ji Ping drove a Class B motorhome, a popular type of recreational vehicle, to the Haba Lake eco-tourism area in Wuzhong, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in Northwest China. The spot, with overall utilities, campsites and an ideal field for stargazing, attracts many RV enthusiasts.

"After retirement, I bought a motorhome worth about 300,000 yuan ($47,100) to travel with my wife and grandson. We had been to scores of cities in China and went to Laos and Vietnam. Traveling by RV has become a new lifestyle, especially for us seniors, since we have more time," Ji said.

Another vacationer Li Jian recently drove his motorhome to the RV campsite in Baishamen Park, Haikou, Hainan province. "I paid 60 yuan for parking every day, and it also covered water and electricity, so the price is totally affordable. And my stay there was very convenient and relaxing because the campsite is surrounded by markets and a beautiful beach."

Such scenes have become increasingly common across China as the RV market booms amid a growing motorhome culture and expanding integration of campsites and scenic spots.

Against the backdrop of consumption stimulation and the lingering pandemic, China's RV market put forth stable growth in 2021, said the China Automobile Dealers Association.

Data from the 2021 annual report released by CADA showed that, by region, RVs sold well in developed provinces like Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang. Jiangsu held the highest market share at over 10 percent. The cities of Beijing and Suzhou sold 500 plus RVs in 2021, followed by Shanghai and Chengdu.

Generally speaking, market demand rose in spring, summer and year-end, indicating a relatively uneven development.

By type, the RV market is divided into motorhomes-whose sales in China amounted to 12,582 units in 2021 with a year-on-year rise of 43.2 percent-and towable RVs, whose sales reached 3,543 units.

The association added that although towable RVs, led by traditional trailers, cannot dominate the market in the near term, they share strengths such as lower prices, spaciousness and strong practicability that cannot be overlooked.

Motorhomes are further segmented into three types: the largest being Class A, midsized Class C, and the tiny Class B, which only accommodates two to three people. Accordingly, 8,991 orders of Class Cs with bunk over cabs and 3,493 orders of Class Bs were made in 2021, a performance quite the opposite to 2018 when Class Bs outperformed the other. Now, Class C motorhomes are expected to be redhot products in the next half-decade, CADA said.

"Class Cs and Bs are the main products in the market, and our Class B motorhomes topped the market share in the first two months this year," said SAIC Maxus Automotive Co Ltd, China's major RV provider. In 2021, Maxus sold 1,362 RVs, ranking first, followed by Yutong Group Co Ltd, which sold 1,311 RVs.

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