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RV Podcast #368: What Happened to RV Innovation this year?

| Updated Oct 27, 2021

RV innovation has definately slowed down this year. Despite record sales, RV manufacturers are facing parts and labor shortages, transportation issues and service backlogs. As a result, we're seeing less innovation.

Manufacturers are so busy cranking out existing orders that, at least for this year, implementing big design changes and innovations are taking a backseat to just meeting today's demand.

That's one part of our discussion with Matt Foxcroft, the popular creator of Matt's RV Reviews, in Episode 368 of the RV Podcast.

Also this week, lots of RV News, your RV Lifestyle questions, and an awesome Hidden Gems campground in Utah you will want to check out.

Click below to see a video version of the podcast:

Click the player below for the audio-only version, or listen to it on your mobile device with your favorite podcast app:


Table of Contents, by time code

RV Podcast #368: What Happened to RV Innovation this year? 1
Here's what we covered in this week's RV Podcast

To listen to the specific topics you are interested in, here's a table of contents arranged by time in the program. Just move the slider to that time to hear the content you want.

Mike Wendland: Well, joining us right now, before he hits the road, and before we hit the road is Matt himself. Hey Matt, it is good to get you on the podcast.

Interview: What happened to RV Innovation this year?

Where is the RV innovation ?
RV Innovation

Here's the edited transcript of my interview with Matt Foxcroft of Matt's RV Reviews:

Matt Foxcroft: Thank you.

Mike Wendland: I've been thinking about this for a long time and I'm thrilled to get you on the show.

Matt Foxcroft: Thank you so much.

Mike Wendland: Nobody has the enthusiasm and just the general excitement about what these new RVs have, why they're usable, thank you and your channels. I think you just do a great job.

Matt Foxcroft: Thank you.

Mike Wendland: So I want to jump right in and we all just got back from Hershey and it was kind of a weird show because a lot of the manufacturers weren't there and we really didn't see much in the way of RV Innovation. Some of the dealers aren't there and we saw some new stuff, but your goal is to get them all.

Matt Foxcroft: Yes.

RV innovation for 2022 is hard to find

Mike Wendland: So tell us what's exciting to you. What you're seeing innovation-wise now that we have to look forward to in 2022.

Matt Foxcroft: Yeah, so we did a video series called What's New in RV innovation for 2022. So, that was our game plan going in. And our game plan going in was to just go to each manufacturer, Forest River, Entegra, Thor, and just talk about what's new for 22.

Well, we had to kind of change directions from that because a lot of manufacturers aren't doing new stuff. So we had to change it to What's New and Exciting for 2022. And believe it or not in the Class A gas market and the travel trailer market, there really wasn't too much that was new or exciting in terms of RV innovation.

The diesel pushers, there were a few. Excuse me. But I think the biggest winners were the toy haulers and the Class B vans. There were a lot of new B vans this year, which is really, really good. And I know you guys have a Class B, B plus, Class C, whatever you want to call it, but especially, what's really exciting is Tiffin just came out with their new Class B, the Cahaba.

Class B RVs are where the momentum seems to be

image about findingg a class b rv on a budget
Finding RV innovation a Class B RV on a budget is not easy…This is the Thor Sequence

And then not released at Hershey, which I just saw a memo about just the other day, Jayco and Entegra are also coming out with their new Class Bs on the Mercedes, that's competition to the Winnebago Revel and the Thor Sanctuary but not RV Innovation per se. Which it's really good, because part of the reason I'm not a huge fan of Class Bs, and part of the reason is that they're so expensive. So the reason why I like that there's more of them coming out there, more competition's going to help drive the price down for the consumer.

Mike Wendland: We saw one of them from Pleasureway. $175,000 and it has no air conditioning.

Matt Foxcroft: Yeah, it's crazy.

Mike Wendland: Yeah. Hello? What's up with that? And, we also noticed a big trend. Everybody seems to be jumping on this new, and it's not so new anymore, but the 144 inch short Sprinter.

Matt Foxcroft: Yeah. That's what everybody's doing. Yep.

Mike Wendland: But we purposely didn't try and see as many as we normally do, because there were a lot of manufacturers who felt that they shouldn't be showing new things when they're not able to meet the orders that they already have, and so they didn't come or show off any RV Innovation. But where do you see this all headed right now? I mean the trend with everybody's got solar now, everybody's got a lithium option.

Everybody's got a pop-top on the small ones. The Bs all have slides now or the Cs and the A's all have slides on both sides. Everybody's kind of working that. Where do you see things going that excites you as you do your reviews?

Towables are showing some RV Innovation with solar

RV innovation in towables features lots of solar
Towable trailers are showing RV innovation with lots of solar

Matt Foxcroft: I don't know. I know the lithium game is starting to become real. So I've been in the RV industry for six, going on seven years now. And even from the first day I was in the RV industry, everybody's talking about solar, solar, solar. And it's just like solar wasn't real. I mean, and I know I might sound like a little ignorant when I say that, but six years ago, five years ago, four years ago, solar wasn't real. It would only trickle charge your batteries.

Where now, they've made so much advances that there's travel trailers that are 100% sufficient off of solar. In the class B vans that are completely running off these lithium ion batteries. And we're not just talking about the lights, we're talking about the TVs, the microwaves, the air conditioning units. So solar is making big improvements. And I see that being the most exciting thing.

I did a review on a unit called, by Venture RV, it was called the Sonic X. And the whole thing was just running off batteries. It amazed me. I just couldn't believe it.

Mike Wendland: Yeah. The battery success has been around, but solar too has been so oversold, because really you're better off with some extra lithium batteries and your alternator. And you can charge these things up rather than what solar in the Northern climates can do.

But I think people are getting aware of that now. And they're familiar with it and it isn't this great exotic thing, but it's a handy thing to have if you have enough batteries and a big inverter.

Is RV quality suffering along with RV Innovation?

avoid rv repair horror stories with the right tech
RV repair and service is always a hassle

Mike Wendland: So the other thing besides RV innovation that I wanted to talk to you about is something that we are hearing a lot about. Mostly anecdotal, but from consumers who are very frustrated by what they were perceiving as a drop in quality post COVID. And I'm wondering if you are hearing those things, if you are seeing those things, and also the whole problem of not enough help and the supply chain seems to give credence to some of this stuff.

Matt Foxcroft: Well, thank you so much, Mike. And let me tell you, I told you off-camera, but I didn't dive too much into detail. I'm probably the worst person to try to explain this because I've seen the articles and I've seen the other YouTube videos. And, here's my opinion, right?

And this is just me talking. I feel like the quality hasn't gone down, I feel like it's the RV industry and the quality has never been there in the first place, in my opinion. It's a house on wheels.

And here's what I think the bigger problem is. I think the bigger problem is people like me, people who are sales people, people who are influencers, not setting the right expectations for these new buyers for the next generation, the current generation of people who are starting to RV now. There are so many new buyers.

I don't work for a dealership anymore, but when I worked at a dealership, 50% of people used to trade in their RVs and 50% new buyers. Over the last year, it's been 95% of people had no trade-ins. And it just goes to show you how many new buyers.

RV can sometimes be short for “Ruined Vacation”

getting towed
This is no fun, either

And the buyers they end enter this world. And they're spending a lot of money, 20,50, 100, $200,000. And the problem is, again, either the salesperson or their next door neighbor, or whoever's trying to get them in the world of RV, isn't explaining to them the right way, that an RV stands for a ruined vacation.

But I say that in a positive way. Again, with every RV, it's not if something goes wrong, it's when something goes wrong. And it's always been that way. Even when I interview Featherlite or Prevost or Newells, they always talk about their service departments, because an RV, when you hit a speed bump, or you hit a pothole, that's your whole house going through an earthquake during a hurricane.

Mike Wendland: We've often said it, it's a constant 4.9 earthquake as you drive down the road. And if you get on a rough road, it's suddenly a 6.0 earthquake. I think that's a very interesting point is that so many people have bought into us talking about how fun the RV lifestyle it is. But we haven't been as honest as perhaps we should, or as I think that's probably a bad word, not necessarily honest, but as forthcoming about the challenges that everyday life in an RV poses. And, you might be onto something there.

RVs break. That's normal. Just like everything else.

Matt Foxcroft: Yeah. And again, I'm not saying my answer's the right answer. If anything, my answer's probably more of the wrong answer, but again, it's just enough other person's opinion and you know this, and with the article, I don't even know who wrote it, but here's what I do know. And you know this from being in the media business, chaos sells, drama sells. And so that one article has gotten somebody a lot of views and a lot of hits and a lot of people chatting. And, it's just one of those things in the world where if I could ever make a video that had drama, I know that video's going to perform very well.

Mike Wendland: Yeah. There are some real problems though at the industry.

Matt Foxcroft: Oh yeah, no for sure

Mike Wendland: There's not enough help. There's not enough service techs. There's, certainly right now, not enough parts and the dealers and the manufacturers are all really scrambling. I mean, this is their income. They want to sell more.

Matt Foxcroft: But that's a great point, not to interrupt you, but I'm really good friends with the Bradys, who own Alliance RV. And they put out a pretty crappy unit to somebody that we know outside of the RV world. And they actually bought a Valor and the Bradys took it back and exchanged it for the guy.

RV Manufacturers do not want to put out crappy units

And they lost a lot of money on the deal, but they did it because it was the right thing to do. The difference being a good manufacturer and a bad manufacturer. But I hate giving the manufacturers the benefit of the doubts, but when they put out a bad product, it ends up costing them. They might have put it out to mark their number, but they also have to warranty that product, which ends up costing them money.

I have to say, I got to genuinely believe, it doesn't matter who the manufacturer is, nobody's going out there trying to make a bad product, everybody's trying their best. But again, there is definitely two sides to every coin.

Mike Wendland: Yeah. And, they are expensive. I mean, it's the most expensive purchase someone will make next to their home in many cases. So 2022 is coming. And we're told that this chip shortage in the supply chain is going to continue for sometime. With that, now you review all of the new RVs. But there's also a lot of talk about people holding onto their RVs longer and then realizing that they can maybe make some more money on these things by selling them now. What are you hearing as you talk to different dealers and manufacturers about this alleged glut of used RVs that may or may not be on the market soon?

People are holding on to their RVs longer because new ones are so hard to get

RV Podcast #368: What Happened to RV Innovation this year? 2
Even used RVs are hard to find. People are not trading them in as usual these days

Matt Foxcroft: Right. So we've been waiting for that for the last year, year and a half. Everybody said that the wave of buyers, everybody who's buying an RV from COVID is going to get rid of theirs soon, but nobody knows. Nobody knows when. We thought this would all happen last year. We didn't think it would, stretch out for as long as it has.

Matt Foxcroft: And it's one of those things, all the manufacturers, things aren't slowing down anytime soon. Airstream and Leisure weren't at the show because they're sold out for the next year or two. And so I have a lot of customers who bought, who are selling their RVs right now, who are making profit on it.:

I have one customer who bought… Who has a 2020 Entegra Emblem. I believe he bought it from me for 119 or for 124, maybe 129, I don't remember. But he just sold it for $150,000. So, used. And he's used it for the past year and a half. It's crazy.

Mike Wendland: Yeah. But he is going to have problems getting a new one. So you are starting to see that then. That some of them are starting to sell these used ones-

Matt Foxcroft: Oh yeah. No. Now is the time sell. Absolutely. Yeah. Because the used market's hot.

What's the most fun part of Matt's job?

Mike Wendland: What's the most fun part about your job these days?

Matt Foxcroft: So, the best part is that we're able to review every RV out there now. Which is really, really exciting because there's so many great RVs out there. And the dealership that I was working with, they just sold a fraction of them.

And so now we go out and we reviewed a Leisure travel van maybe a month ago. And we get to see the Airstreams now and the Redwoods, and just all these different brands of our RVs that we weren't able to see in the past. We're able to actually review them all. And so it's really, really exciting.

Mike Wendland: Well, we will send everybody to your links and all that stuff. And I'm glad to get you on the thing. I think it's going to be a very interesting year, 2022, because nobody knows what's around the corner, except that the backlogs aren't going to go away. The part shortage isn't going to cure as fast as everybody hoped and getting a new RV is going to take a lot more scrambling and patience than ever before. So, you got time to make the right choice, everybody. And, watch Matt, he'll tell you about RV innovation and what to look for.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring

Matt Foxcroft: The one thing that I do want to say, because there's going to be a lot of people watching, this saying, “Well, hey, I don't want to get ripped off buying a new RV or even a used RV. I'm going to wait till the market cools down. I'm going to wait till this. I'm going to wait till that.”

The one thing that I like to tell everybody, and it's one of my most popular videos, is that tomorrow's never promised and don't live today worrying about tomorrow. You know what I'm saying? And tomorrow's never promised.

So instead of, I've seen it too many times now that people just wait and wait and wait, and they'll make an excuse like, “Oh, we're going to wait six months for the market cool down or this or that.” And next thing you know, a situation happens where they're unable to retire or they're unable to go out on vacations.

Mike Wendland: All the time.

Matt Foxcroft: It happens all the time.

Mike Wendland: I saw a sign out inside of a dealership down in Florida that has stuck with me. And it's absolutely right. It says today is absolutely the best day in history to buy an RV. And you know, it's true. It's true. Matt Foxcroft, Matt's RV Reviews. Say hi to Andrea for us. Have fun out there and we'll see you maybe in Tampa, huh?

Matt Foxcroft: I'll 100% be at Tampa. I'll see you then.

Mike Wendland: Thanks for being on the program and have a great day.

Matt Foxcroft: Thank you.

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RV Podcast #368: What Happened to RV Innovation this year? 3
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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-10-27

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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