RV sales have slumped after hitting a record high during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winnebago is betting a refresh of its popular Solis Pocket camper van will bring in new buyers.
The tiny home on wheels will hit dealerships in August for around $150,000.
Amid a slump in RV sales, Winnebago is betting a refresh of its popular Solis Pocket camper van will bring the legacy RV company a needed boost.
RV makers had their most recent heyday during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When people were too nervous to fly on planes or sail on cruises — seemingly a lifetime ago — more travelers turned to RVing.
And this boon was immediately felt across the industry as travelers began scrambling to buy tiny homes on wheels. Sales were so frenzied, Winnebago amassed an astounding $4.37 billion backlog in orders in 2022.
At the time, it felt like the RV industry had accidentally struck gold.
But these days, it’s looking more like “a recession in RVs,” Jon Ferrando, the CEO and president of Blue Compass RV, told Reuters. Ferrando’s company operates more than 100 RV dealerships.
Wholesale RV shipments have dropped almost 50% from 2023 compared to 2022, according to May data from the RV Industry Association.
And in June, Winnebago’s parent company announced its third-quarter 2023 revenues of $900.8 million, an over 38% drop from the $1.5 billion it saw during the same period last year.
Amid this dip, Winnebago is hoping a refresh of its cheapest camper van will bring back the buyers RV makers need.
The legacy RV maker has seen “tremendous success” with the Solis Pocket, a spokesperson told Insider in a statement.
And the hope is this new floor plan will catch the eyes of equally new customers when it hits dealerships this year.
The new Solis Pocket 36B won’t look identical to a city apartment, but it will have pretty decent amenities as far as camper vans go.
Companies like Leisure Travel Vans turn Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans into nearly $190,000 RVs with amenities and furnishings that look nearly identical to that of a standard home.
Well, this isn’t that. Instead, Winnebago’s updated 36B floor plan will have plenty of movable and multi-use furniture all neatly compartmentalized inside of its Ram Promaster chassis.
According to a Winnebago dealer, the previous 280 horsepower Solis Pocket on the Ram chassis could hit between 18 to 22 miles-per-gallon. However, the RV maker has yet to announce what these details will look like on the updated camper van.
There’s a good chance it won’t be fully electric like Winnebago’s concept eRV2 camper van.
Multipurpose dinettes are a frequent fixture in small RVs — there isn’t much room for a separate bed and dining table in a nearly 18-foot-long van, after all.
The table and benches can extend to accommodate four people.
When it’s time to sleep, these benches can turn into a twin or double bed. And when travelers are ready to hit the road again, two seat belts can be pulled out for additional passenger seating.
For those who prefer modern amenities over “going in the woods,” Winnebago will include a compact bathroom in the rear.
This was the one “room” missing from the original Solis Pocket floor plan. In the previous iteration, this rear area was occupied by a Murphy bed.
A toilet and shower aren’t guaranteed in all camper vans.
Luckily, the 36B floor plan will include both plus a medicine cabinet and sink. But don’t expect a porcelain throne — the toilet will be removable.
No word on the fresh or grey water tank capacity. But if it’s like its predecessor, both will be 20 gallons.
For meals on the road, the galley will have necessities like a small refrigerator and electric stovetop.
These were available in the previous Solis Pocket, although that galley had almost no counter space.
To power any onboard amenities, buyers can pay extra to upgrade the RV’s power system to a more energy-efficient kit.
This upgrade will be able to power the van off-grid for up to three days with the help of a five kilowatt-hour lithium battery, according to Winnebago.
A 20-gallon propane tank will have its own storage area in the rear of the van.
This refreshed RV will hit Winnebago’s dealerships next month.
The final price hasn’t been announced yet, but a spokesperson said the tiny home on wheels will start at around $150,000.
It’s a jump from the original Solis Pocket’s $140,375 sticker price. But it’s the price you’ll have to pay if you want a modern bathroom in the woods.
Read the original article on Business Insider