10 thoughts on “Business Idea: Chinese-made motorhomes

  1. The Chinese already make a fair number of single-engine trainers. I think they built a Russian-designed Yak two-seat aerobatic airplane and some folks have brought them over to the U.S. Diamond is opening a factory in China soon but mostly to serve the Chinese market. You would think that if Cessna is going to build 172s the labor-intensive 1955 way they should do it in China. I guess the challenge of FAA certification of a factory over there is fairly daunting.

    RVs have the advantage of a larger market and no government bureaucracy delaying the return on investment for 3-5 years.

  2. Wow, these are exactly along the same lines I’ve been thinking. I’m a thirty-something IT type who under-applies himself considerably and makes a matching salary.

    I’ve seen some nice Sprinter conversions, http://www.sportsmobile.com (particularly nice, in that they let you build a customized floorplan online) It’d be almost ideal to offer similar for a Chinese produced RV, but that could adversely affect price and delivery dates.

    Also, I’m not enthused with most RV interior design, which looks like the set from 1980s sitcom ‘Designing Women’ threw up inside. Or the bulk of creaking heavy particleboard interior construction.

    My dream RV would have lots of carbon-fibre and surfaces bordering on austere, but highly functional, maybe even modular, being able to secure to various mounting points on the vehicle. No fixed interior plumbing. (option for a thetford cassette toilet might be nice though) No fixed Propane. Photovoltaics on top, and areas for putting an onboard wireless router.

    I dont think I’d ship with a fixed LCD tv as a default on an RV, as prices keep coming down, or people like me wouldnt even bother watching broadcast TV or cable, using our widescreen laptops for DVDs. VESA-bracket spots for mounting a LCD-TV or monitor would be appreciated though.

    I wonder if Sam’s club or walmart could become an auto or RV dealer with cheap Chinese made automotive brands like Chery. They already court RV’ers to stay in their parking lots. It’d also turn any Walmart with an auto-service-center into an RV service center. Gaaah. That concept goes together a little too well. 😛

  3. What happens when gasoline goes over $5 a gallon (as many oil industry analysts are forecasting for next year or 2007)? RV sales will be hit hard, no matter how economical and cheap they may be…

  4. I think you are drawing the market too narrowly by saying that your product is “Intended for a married couple with two children to go camping.” What about shooting for a market that includes “a family of four to go camping”, which could include gay and lesbian couples and their kids? I would think they would be equally, if not more, likely to want to camp (a gay friend of mine recently spent a weekend at a “gay” campground in Texas) as straight folk. However, they would not fall within your “married” categtory because they are not married, due to homophobic folk in their home states who fear that to permit that would lead to the demise of the straight marriage. Please excuse the brief political rant, but my main point is, no need to target such a narrow market.

  5. For RVs, you would want sub assemblies which could be fit into standard shipping containers for efficent shipping, then easily assembled into differerent sizes of RVs.

    As for austere but modern interior styling, those folks tend to stay at “W” hotels and read Wallpaper, not buy RVs.

    RVs come in different economic backgrounds, and while some will be detered by by $6 gas, the other half won’t blink until $10+

    Married couples with 2 children tend to constrained economically (saving for kids college) and with time to use an RV. There is also a relatively small windo fro this family camping stuff – kids need to be older than 4-5 so they won’t fall off a cliff 2 minutes after you park the RV, and once kids reach the middle teens they try to avoid parents. Yes, these people would like to have inexpensive camping options, but may not have an abundance of money to pay for them.

    Consider targeting Class A RVs towards boomer retirees and and pre retired. Demographics works in your favor, and they have money. They visit their grandkids, freinds, and national parks.

    Class A RVs have lots of labor content, so they advantage of low cost labor would be larger.

    If you have substainial workwork in the interior, much of this could be done in Thailand or Indonesia in teak.

    Your typical buyers will pay up for good looking polished teak. Yachting magazines will have interiors that appeal – or you can send the builders some DVDs of “Designing Women” 😉

    Most of the US RV manufacturing occurs within a 100 mile radius of of Elkhart, Indiana. You could set up in a port city on the US Gulf Coast to save shipping expense, and possibly get economic development help for setting up a factory.

    Best of Luck

  6. Living in Shanghai presently, if by any chance anybody happens to plunge in this, please drop me a line: l u i s _at_ l u i s . b e

  7. Lisa: Gay couples are married here in Massachusetts! And they can have children (legally if not biologically). The reason one targets “adult couple with two children” is that cramming two queen-size beds into a small RV is very difficult. Usually you end up with one bed suitable for two adults and two substandard-size beds or one extra small bed suitable for two kids with a maximum age of 8-10 years. By the time the kids get to be teenagers no parent would want to be cooped up with them anyway…

    Naum: High gas prices will be excellent news for anyone marketing a minivan-based camper. The big RVs get only 8 mpg whereas a minivan-based camper will get close to 20 mpg.

  8. Philip: Yes, I realize homosexual marriage is permitted in MA, but not in the vast majority of the other states in our Fine Union. And I do understand the rest of your marketing statement . . . just didn’t think it should be limited to families with a “marriage.” Great RV idea, though!

  9. I just finished restoring a 1977 GMC Kingsley motorhome. It was in pretty good shape to begin with and I bought it for a song ($6,000). I plan on using the rv as often as possible for the next year of so. If I must cut back after that, I will. The world is changing and this will
    be the easiest thing to get used to. I am sure most of you realize this.
    If there are any other GMC owners on this side please contact me. I love my GMC. I get a smile
    on my face whenever i get behind the wheel. Even after I am getting back into the rv after I
    have just filled up. 🙂
    Dave, 04/20/2006

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