Solar-generated electricity, plasma-screen televisions, a washing machine and a dryer, a covered patio. It sounds like an advertisement for any new home.
But this home also has four wheels and, if you want, an engine that can go almost anywhere.
The California RV Show, a fixture for road warriors in the region for 67 years, will fire up its collective motors Friday, Oct. 4 at a new location, the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
The annual event will run for 10 days and give recreational vehicle enthusiasts and potential buyers an opportunity to look at more than 1,000 new motorized and towable RV models. More than 100 models will be available for test drives, with 17 dealers and 45 manufacturers displaying products.
The annual show moved to Pomona in 1992, but Tom Gaither, director for the Western states for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, said it had run out of space at the Fairplex.
The larger property at Auto Club Speedway also has more parking, including lots that are close to the event site, he said.
RVs are drawing more attention from a wider audience these days. The stereotype that paints an RV buyer as a retiree is a thing of the past, Gaither said.
“A lot of millennials remember when their parents took them camping,” Gaither said. “Now they want their own experiences.”
Younger buyers appear to be using RVs differently, too, for extended hikes or weekend trips rather than just once a year for a marathon excursion.
According to research from Gaither’s trade organization, the share of RV ownership among those between the ages of 35 to 44 increased to 20.75% in 2018 from 18.42% in 2015. In the 25 to 34 bracket, it rose to 8.1% from 5.03%. RVIA’s study is based on retail registrations.
Price points also vary widely. For a small towable RV, which accounts for 85% of the sale market, prices start as low as $6,000. The most expensive motor home at the Fontana show is priced at $750,000.
Gaither said of all the innovations that will be displayed, solar power is a crucial one. Newer units also have lithium batteries, so unused electricity can be stored. Other units will have improved Wi-Fi capacity and other high-tech features.
“The electricity and the Wi-Fi are the biggest new developments,” Gaither said. “Millennials still want to get their emails, and a lot of them would rather work out of an RV and not an office.”
The interiors are designed so virtually every square inch provides either living or storage space for the user. Models include fold-up Murphy beds and TV screens that are tucked to the ceiling when not used. More expensive models have automatic air conditioning thermostats so pets can stay in the cabin, two bathrooms and a full-size oven and stovetop.
The RV market has been in recovery mode since a boom in manufacturing between 2014-16.
Year-over-year wholesale purchases in the first eight months of 2019 slid 17%, according to RVIA data.
Kevin Broom, a national spokesman for the RVIA, said the production boom in 2014-16 led to a downturn in ordering new inventory this year.
In its most recent earnings call, Winnebago CEO and President Michael Happe predicted industry-wide retail sales are likely to be down in the mid-single-digit range this year.
“This will elongate the recovery period for the industry,” Happe said.
Broom predicted the industry would come back.
“I think the industry is in good shape for the future,” Broom said. “People from age 30 on up are buying, so we’re well-positioned.”
The Inland Empire has enjoyed a reputation for RV production, with Fleetwood Trailer Co. headquartered in Riverside for more than three decades. The company was bought out of bankruptcy by American Industrial Partners in 2009.
If you go …
- In addition to hundreds of RVs to ogle, the California RV Show will have music, education seminars and celebrity appearances.
- Celebrity guests include Dodger great Steve Garvey and ex-Laker star James Worthy, along with NASCAR Hall of Fame members Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte.
- Tickets are $15, with $13 admission for active military service members and children ages 12 and younger.
- According to a statement from the Auto Club Speedway, 17 of Southern California’s top dealers will participate.
- Parking is free.
- Information and tickets are available at californiarvshow.org.