Millennials key target for RV sales, say industry reps at Calgary show

Millennials key target for RV sales, say industry reps at Calgary show

While sales of recreational vehicles have dipped a little in 2019 versus the two previous years, millennials are front and centre as a target market for the industry, say representatives.

"Millennials love new technology. They love the idea of getting out with friends and going into areas that are not your traditional provincial campsites," said Jason Grainger of Rangeland RV and Trailer Sales.

  • Want to see what a $600,000 RV looks like? Watch the video at the top of this story.

"A lot of our trailers come Wi-Fi equipped, off-road packages to get you off the beaten path but still have you connected to back home. It's a light trailer. You can hook up your Jeep Wrangler or some of those really cool mountain-style vehicles. You can store mountain bikes in this, put kayaks on the roof rack."

While millennials are currently between 24- and 39-years-old, a similar age range buys significantly more RVs than the general population, according to industry statistics.

RV owners are more likely to be between 25 and 44 (46 per cent) compared with the population in general (33 per cent).

Monty Kruger.CBC

Dan Merkowsky of the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Alberta says it's because these aren't your father's RV.

"They are looking for lighter, smaller models," he said.

"You used to need a half-ton truck to pull them around — not any more."

Merkowsky says about 13,000 new RVs were sold in Alberta last year, compared with about 14,000 in 2018 and 2017.

But RV ownership is higher in the province: about 19 per cent of Albertans, compared with the national average of 14 per cent.

Monty Kruger/CBC

The 51st annual Calgary RV Expo & Sale ran this past weekend. Attendance was up 17 per cent from last year, as more than 22,000 people walked through the BMO Centre doors.

The most expensive recreational vehicle on display was the 2019 American Coach, called the American Dream, said Doug McLaughlin of High River Autoplex & RV.

It's a 45-foot diesel pusher with a 605-horsepower Cummins engine.

"They literally float. They are very quiet and relaxing to drive. You will need an air brake endorsement on your licence," McLaughlin said.

That one goes for almost $600,000.

Monty Kruger/CBC

With files from Monty Kruger.