(Editor's Note: Yan is an engineer with the Erwin Hymer Group of North America, maker of Roadtrek motorhomes)
I just got back from the Hershey RV show. As always, shows are exhausting, fun, disappointing, exhilarating, and ultimately unique experiences. We work about 12 hours a day, each day, and most of the day is spent talking to current and possibly future owners.
Invariably, we're faced with the “How come it's so expensive?” question. This year in particular, as we were almost directly across from a vendor blaring “WE SELL FOR LESS!”
There are valid engineering and manufacturing reasons why Class Bs are some of the most expensive real estate per square foot in the RV world. But really the question is, “Is it worth it?”
And to that I can only say, it's all about the lifestyle. Let's look at a couple of examples.
Your kid gets into Podunk University and Princeton University. You do the math, and you make a choice. Now I'm going to guess that you're not going to say, “What's the cheapest place my kid can attend?” And use that as your final answer. You will probably look at the over all value, the lifestyle, the return on investment. Chances are you will do your best to pay the price for Princeton because of the opportunities that education gives your kid. (In reality, Princeton is actually free for most people. But still, the example is valid.)
Or perhaps you want to buy a house. I really doubt you're going to go to a realtor and ask, “Find me the cheapest 3 bedroom in the city.” You're certainly not going to go to a realtor who advertises “THE CHEAPEST HOUSING IN TOWN!!!!!” You're probably going to pick a neighborhood based on lifestyle, restaurants, schools, parks, nature trails, shopping, or whatever is important to you, and then look for a house in that area. Once you have some costs for housing, you will make the judgment if it's worth it.
So it is with Class Bs. You can buy a larger, cheaper RV. You can buy a big trailer for a lot less. But the real question you need to ask is, “What is the lifestyle I want?” Many times this last week, I asked that question. And most people said, “We want to travel, we want to see things, we want to experience a lot.” Usually they would be looking at a trailer because it's so cheap. And I'd ask them if they wanted to see the city, or drive through the mountains. And they'd say “of course.” So I'd ask what they would do with the trailer. “We would drop it somewhere.” Hmmm…. “Where? At a campground 30 miles from the city?” “Yeah, we don't want to tow the trailer through the city.” “So you're going to tow the trailer to a campground 30 miles away, leave it there, pay for a campsite, and then drive 30 miles to sightsee, just like you would on your work commute?” “Ummmm…..”
And that's where we get into a discussion of the lifestyles and convenience and mobility. And how a small, self-contained RV like the Hymer Aktiv can make that happen. Once people understand that a small, self-contained RV gives them the lifestyle they want, they assign a value to that lifestyle and then see if a Class B fits that value.
This is why dealers who blare “WE SELL FOR LESS” really bug me. They're really saying their product is cheap, that there is no value to the lifestyle, that it's all about how cheap you can be.
The freedom to travel, the freedom to be mobile, the freedom to stay almost anywhere and to travel on almost any road is valuable. As a Class B owner, my Class B provides the value I want for the lifestyle I want. Otherwise, why buy an RV?