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Outdoor allure to boost RV sales, experts predict

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-01 08:53

SAIC Maxus displays a V100 recreational vehicle at the 2021 Guangzhou auto show on Nov 19. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China's recreational vehicle market showed a downward trend in the first half, but industry experts believe an explosion of demand will come in the future.

According to the China Passenger Car Association, a total of 5,155 RVs were sold nationally in the first half of this year, down 12 percent year-on-year. Sales in June reached 1,318 units, down 11 percent compared with June 2021.

The figures reversed the growth momentum seen since the segment began to boom in 2021, against the backdrop of consumption stimulation and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the CPCA, said on his official WeChat account that the sales decrease can be attributed to RV production, which was affected by the pandemic outbreak in Shanghai in the first half of 2022.The city is home to the main production area of the vehicle segment.

Although China's RV market is developing rapidly-the numbers of RV makers and campsites have increased in recent years-consumers are unfamiliar with RV products and lack knowledge of RV camping, which are the bottlenecks of future growth, Cui added.

Increasing the public's exposure to RV products, providing consumers with test-drive opportunities and improving the supporting facilities and related services of RV lifestyles will drive the sustainable growth of the market, Cui suggested.

He believes that the pandemic will have a sobering effect on consumers, limiting long-distance and overseas travel. As such, the RV market will surely resume growth.

A report by market consultancy iiMedia Research shows that between 2014 and 2021, the market value of camping in China increased from 7.71 billion yuan ($1.14 billion) to 29.9 billion yuan. It is forecast that the growth will reach 18.6 percent year-on-year in 2022, meaning the market size will reach 35.46 billion yuan.

An analyst from iiMedia suggests there is significant growth potential in China's RV market. The ownership per 1,000 people in North America and Europe stands at about 30 and 15, respectively. In China, it is fewer than 0.2.

Many companies have sped up moves to release new products to the market. The country's leading RV provider, SAIC Maxus, started presales of its new RVlife camping edition in May to meet the demands of the young generation.

Maxus found that people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are interested in camping. Drivers with a C1 and C2 driving license, which are the most standard driving licenses in China, can drive the RVlife. The model is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave oven, water dispenser and other household appliances.

The market is also supported by policies. The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for the development of cultural and tourism sectors mentioned self-driving trips several times. It urges the industry to advance in different ways by creating an overall RV-centric tourism industrial chain, building new campsites and tourist centers, and enhancing related manufacturing technologies.

The plan also called for the Ministry of National Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to support the establishment of campsites and facility production, respectively.

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