The RV promotion industry may argue over bragging rights to what is the biggest show of the year but if you poll both dealers and fans, it becomes pretty clear that in terms of influence, size and excitement, the annual Florida RV Supershow this week at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa is the one that sets the tone for the entire RV year.
The sponsoring Florida RV Trade Association proudly claim this show is not just the nation's biggest – it's the best.
This is the show in which RV owners and shoppers can get their first look at the entire 2013 lineup from all the RV North American manufacturers. They are all here at this massive indoor and outdoor space, more than 1,100 RVs of every type and size, buffed, shined, decorated and on display for hands-on inspetion. In terms of the latest add-ons, mods and RV accessories, nearly 500 vendors are here also.
An on-site camping Super Rally is sold out, with hundreds of RVers doing camping right at the show. Local campgrounds – and here in Florida, there's seemingly one on every corner – are also filling up. New Fifth Wheels, Toy Haulers, Travel Trailers of every size and configuration, pop-ups, Type A, B and C motorhomes and everything in between are here, on display across 16 acres through Sunday. It is so big you really need two days to see it, especially when you throw in the entertainment and seminars. And that's if you take the trolley that runs on a constant circuit. If you walk it, beter figure on three days.
The theme this year is “Now is the Time,” meaning there has never been a better time to buy an RV as the industry has largely recovered from the economic downturn and deals have never been better.
Today, Tuesday, is Industry Day. We are camping on the grounds and we're going to try and concentrate mostly on Class B, small motorhomes, and the accessories that go with them. And all the big players are here: Roadtrek, Airstream, Winnebago, Pleasure-Way, Leisure Travel Vans and a newcomer making its debut, Advanced RV, a Type B RV startup based in Cleveland, Ohio that builds several models on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis.
And it's clear that the eco-themed Roadtrek eTrek, as well as its new CS camping series model, has struck a nerve with consumers and the other manufacturers as well. The two are displayed side-by-side along with every Roadtrek model around it.
Both the eTrek with its all electric, solar power emphasis on camping unplugged and replying on a bank of either eight AGM batteries or three lithium batteries for extended power while boondocking out of commercial campgrounds, and the CS (for Camping Series) with its heated floors, extra large 7 cubic foot refrigerator, increased cabinets and inside storage space and the solar option, seemed to be the trendsetters among the other Class B makers.
Advanced RV's new Ocean One model, debuting here this week, seems to have picked right up on those Roadtrek innovations, including the heated floors and big fridge. Their Ocean One is extremely luxurious, coming with its own wine cabinet, heated seats, panoramic wood cabinets and a screen sliding door.
We also got a chance to look up close and wander around inside the new 2013 Unity model by Leisure Travel Vans. This model has a Murphy Bed and slide-out mid van with a self contained shower and bathroom with vanity in the rear.
Over the next few days, we'll do detailed videos on several of the new models, interviews and special reports. If there's anything you'd like me to find here and show you, just leave a comment.
And if you are visiting the show and would like to see our eTrek, I'd love to meet you and give you a tour. We're in spot #51.
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