Wrong again: Chinese-built RVs are not cheaper

Me in 2005: “Ideas for Building RVs in China”. I figured that the Chinese would be able to build competitive basic motorhomes at prices lower than what American firms charge because so much hand labor is involved.

(On the blog post associated with this, a reader was way ahead of the curve:

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.

Today she would be considered a hater for not including the trans and other folks within the LGBTQIA+ rainbow?)

Instead of same-but-cheaper, it looks as though the Chinese are innovating in ways that Americans couldn’t have imagined, but the prices are actually higher. See “An Entire Second Floor Pops Out of this Tiny RV, Complete with a Working Elevator to Get Up There” (Gizmodo):

The SAIC Maxus Life Home V90 Villa Edition, designed and built in China, appears to offer the best of both mobile worlds. The vehicle has a relatively small footprint (it’s only slightly larger than what you see most van-lifers driving around in), but it employs slide-out walls to greatly increase the floor space to around 215 square feet inside while the RV is parked. There’s a fairly spacious sleeping berth located above the driver’s cab which leaves more room in the back for a large L-shaped couch and a respectably sized kitchen. … Where the V90 really wows, however, is the sunroom that automatically extends from the roof giving the RV an entire second floor of living space, including a walk-out balcony.

You can potentially convince SAIC Maxus to build one for you if you’re willing to cough up a little over $413,000, and whatever shipping costs are needed to export it outside of China, plus whatever additional upgrades are needed to legally drive it on US roads.

Here’s a photo:

(Should the gal above be a little more, um, robust in order to fit in with the typical American RV traveler?)

A similar-length U.S.-made Winnebago is about $172,000, i.e., less than half as much. So it seems that I have been proven wrong yet again.

3 thoughts on “Wrong again: Chinese-built RVs are not cheaper

  1. Elon has said the shipping costs make Chinese manufacturing of cars more expensive than US. Oil is heading back to the stratosphere from quantitative easing & there aren’t enough batteries to electrify all the boats.

  2. It’s clever but way overpriced, especially for the overall size of the motorhome. And that pop-up room on top might be cool as an gimmicky sun room for one or two people, but put six supersized Americans in there (if you can get them up that tiny “elevator” contraption of theirs) and if everyone goes to one side of the RV at the same time…

    It really relies on the fact that the walls are just folding panels, but it’s a cool packaging job. Don’t know what the utility of the “balcony” really is.

    I’m sure their are height regulations on RVs that will prevent that from being deployed unless the vehicle is immobile, or a lot of people are going to be finding out the hard way about the 11foot8 and similar bridges:


    I’d still much rather have one of the big Winnebagos. Of course the Chinese, having fired this opening volley, will get the price down, make it bigger, make it more luxurious, and they have plenty of room to come down. For now I think America is still the RV King. But maybe not for too much longer.

    What will happen in the short term is that some rap group or boy band or influencer who in California who can afford to have one imported will put it in a video with chicks and butts hanging off the balcony.

    • My next thought is: “You must have to have a very very high social rating score indeed to buy or lease, register, insure and drive (or whatever the Chinese equivalents are) one or more of those. Because if you get 25 of them together in any place, you could truck a couple hundred fully-armed troops into the Forbidden City and take over the place.”

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