If you’re thinking about buying your first RV (caravan, campervan, camper trailer or motorhome) or looking to upgrade your existing home-away-from-home there is no doubt a slew of questions you’re looking to answer. To help with this, we’ve taken a deep-dive into one of the most comprehensive reports on the Australian RV market to date.
The RV Consumer 2018 report, published by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), takes information provided by 2541 respondents who completed an online survey and were selected to reflect Australia’s population trends. It shows that RV ownership in Australia is at an all-time high with 679,378 RVs registered in Australia last year – that’s a caravan, camper trailer or campervan parked out the front of one in every 13 households! 51% of these are caravans followed by camper trailers with 17%.
While purchasing or upgrading your RV is a gateway to a whole lot of fun, it’s also not a decision to be taken lightly. Below are some key considerations that should help inform your decision.
Do I have the time?
The largest barrier to owners getting out and using their RVs appears (perhaps unsurprisingly) to be time constraints. The usual offenders being work, school and family which restrict around 69% of owners travelling as much as they’d like to – only 15% said they had no restrictions at all.
If you’re considering buying an RV, it’s a good idea to try and work out exactly how often you’ll be able to get out to use it. How much annual leave do you have each year? And how much of it can feasibly be spent adventuring in your RV? With 18% of current owners using their RV for just seven nights a year, you don’t want to see your new RV gathering dust in the driveway as you head off to the office every morning!
Supporting Australian made
Country of manufacture is another key factor to consider before making a purchase or an upgrade. It’s telling that the large majority of first-time buyers (47%) have a strong preference for Australian made, only with 9% preferring European made and 8% with a preference for American RVs.
Apart from wanting to support Australian manufacturing, the significant preference towards Aussie RVs may be due to the fact that 90% of major manufacturers in the country are accredited through the CIAA’s Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Accreditation Program (RVMAP).
The CIAA has done a lot of the work for RV buyers here, with only the best manufacturers being accredited. Outdoria has subsequently partnered with the CIAA to launch the first RVMAP accreditation-preferred caravan and RV selling hub. This is bringing consumer safety to the forefront of the industry by promoting a robust, compliant and sustainable caravan and camping industry.
Interestingly, the strong preference for Australian made is even higher in current and former owners, tipping the scales at 51%.
New or used?
The secondhand market for RVs is massive and accounts for about 52% of all sales and 60% of these purchases are made through a private seller. This is likely due to the fact that 80% of people said that cost was the most influential factor in their purchase decision.
Buying a used vehicle may mean you’re able to afford a better model and brand than when purchasing new. And if it’s an RVMAP accredited vehicle, you can rest assured it meets all relevant Australian Design Rules and Federal Compliance Regulations.
What features and amenities do I need?
Deciding which features and amenities to prioritise will obviously vary significantly from person to person, however, of all features road handling comes in as the most important and is also the feature respondents are least willing to let go of. Warranty and aftermarket support were also high on many buyers’ checklists as were interior space, operating costs and ease of setup.
The feature respondents were most willing to compromise on was entertainment followed by interior space and ease of setup. Although when purchasing new, interior space was considered more important by former and current owners than first-timers. So if you’re looking to buy for the first time, have a good long think about just how much interior space you’re willing to forego.
RVs are a great way to experience the Australian outdoors as they enable you to explore the country at your own pace and in relative comfort. The huge variety of RV makes and models on the market means there’s something out there for almost everyone.
Just do your research before you buy, and remember if you’re new to RVing, a great way to find out if it’s for you is to [hire an RV] before you buy. If you’d like to know more, there's loads of useful information the CIAA’s website. Happy touring!