We're at the huge Super B RV Show being held near Phoenix, AZ this weekend, surrounded by some 130 Class B and small motorhomes. Nothing larger. No towables, popups, fifth wheels or any other kind of RV. Just small motorhomes.
It's actually the third year that this show has been held, organized and sponsored by LaMesa RV, held inside the University of Phoenix stadium, which is also home to the Arizona Cardinals. This weekend, the playing field, emptied of its retractable turf field, was filled with motorhomes from Roadtrek Motorhomes, Hymer, Leisure Travel Vans, PleasureWay, Tiffin Motorhomes, Winnebago, Thor, American Coach, Entegra, Midwest Automotive Design and others.
Jennifer and I were here last year and coming back again has shown us how the small motorhome market is evolving. We spent Thursday and Friday shooting videos, recording interviews for the podcast and learning about the trends that are shaking up the industry.
There is all sorts of technological innovation. Almost every RV maker has incorporated solar and powerful lithium batteries in their designs and boondocking and off the grid capabilities are common. Other trends you'll see in our videos over the next few weeks include maximizing storage space with things like garages that can store things like bicycles extra gear inside the vehicle instead of having to be mounted on a hitch at the back.
There are pop up sleeping spaces that, on the Loft version of the Hymer Activ, means you can sleep up to six people in a Class B, instead of the standard two or three. Other chassis like the Dodge Promaster and the Ford Transit are firmly entrenched now in the market as the old Chevy van chassis has all but disappeared.
But what has most impressed Jennifer and me has been the people we've been able to meet and visit with.
We had people hear us talk about this show on our podcast and come from long distances. One couple flew down early Thursday morning from Portand, OR and then returned that same night. Another made the four hour drive here from Las Vegas. Several people we met drove over from Southern California.
We met and interviewed a couple that has been in the process of downsizing over the past three years, moving from a Class A motorhome, to a Class C and now to a Class B.
And we talked to lots of folks looking for their first RV.
Everyone said they wanted a small motorhome for the same reasons: Maneuverability, not having to tow another vehicle to go off exploring, being able to park it in their driveway at home and the ability to boondock and get deep into the wilderness. When not camping or touring, many said they wanted to use their Class B as a second vehicle at home.
All these are the reasons why Class B sales remain the fastest growing segment of the RV marketplace. During the first two months of 2018 (the traditional “slow” months), Class B sales posted double-digit growth with overall registrations jumping 23.6%. That's coming on almost a 30% growth last year.
Jason Kimbrell, whose LaMesa RV runs RV stores across California, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida, told me he was so impressed by the demand for B class RVs that he is building a 100,000-plus square foot indoor facility near Sacramento, CA that will be just for small motorhomes, a sort of permanent Super B show. Think Bass Pro Shop, but for small RVs, with each manufacturer making individual display rooms for their products, complete with indoor landscaping and design features celebrating the RV lifestyle.
We did a live video later for our Facebook Page. Just click to watch…
But we're a little bummed about one thing. Because of our travel schedule, we didn't have time to drive out here.We had to fly and we're scheduled to leave the 85-90 degree sunshine here to return to Michigan and…. An ice storm. We so wish we had our RV with us to take advantage of the spectacular camping here in the Southwest.
If I can talk Jennifer into it, I'm going to suggest we drive right back out.