If you aren't from around Texas then you might not know that we all have opinions of just about everything, from cars to beer to presidents to well, RVs! This doesn't mean all we do is sit around and shout at each other, no sir. Texans are big, bold, and proud, but also educated and more than capable of putting up a good debate, especially if it is besides a campfire with a cold bottle of beer in hand.
Spending nearly a decade now at Alamo RV park we seen dozens of people come and go and get quite a bit of news just by listening to what travelers say as they are passing through. We also keenly observe the continuous evolution of the RV and different trailer styles. From the all aluminum Air-Stream to the houses-on-wheels we got today, evolution has moved at quite the pace.
One of the last American made RV's of lore: the Swinger Deluxe
Besides brand names, styles, and sizes, what's debated more than "self-propelled vs. tow-behind" is where the product is made. Similar to cars, many Americans are proud to only buy "American-made" products like Ford, Chevy, and other GM vehicles. This mindset applies to campers and RVs as well.
Some people are more pragmatic and buy whatever brand offers the best quality for the lowest price. Recently it seems this means buying a camper unit that is at least partly manufactured in a place like China and shipped over to the U.S. in pieces where it is assembled domestically.
We have remained pretty impartial on this whole debate, preferring to stand back, smile, and keep our two cents to ourselves. As luck may be though, just the other week we nearly had to to break up a fireside fist fight over the matter. In good Texas tradition, the next morning with the dawn of light people were up cleaning up and making amends. Still, it was this rather climactic event that led us to write this post on our official website sharing our own perspectives on the U.S vs. foreign made RV debate.
1. Most RVs have Foreign Components Anyways.
First we would like to point out we think this whole "made in China" vs "made in America" debate is a bit pointless. Things are not as black and white as many make them out to believe. Most of the Chinese made RVs are manufactured in China in pre-fab units that are assembled by American workers here in the United States.
Many "American made" RVs on the other hand still have their components, like walls, veneers, electrical pieces and plumbing components imported from companies who have them manufactured in China. These components are then assembled and installed back in America by American workers.
In both of the above examples there are elements of the construction process that takes place overseas. There ARE 100% American made RVs on the market, but they cost a pretty penny (not to say it ain't worth it!) but we rarely see these beauties and instead debates are often held between two guys both with partially foreign-made units!
2. Is Quality Really an Issue?
Now that we have determined most units are at least partially "made in China", we have to ask ourselves, how big of a concern is this? Do "foreign made" RVs have a much higher break down rate? Is quality that big of an issue?
From our perspective seeing thousands of RVs a year, it seems all brands and models face breakdowns on about equal par. We can not say definitively "X brand" always breaks and "Z brand" never breaks. It just ain't that clear cut. So if they all break down at some point, what's worth the debate we ask?
3. Budget is King
Another reason people should give up this RV fireside debate is because none of us know each others struggles and finances. A man making $100,000 a year cannot tell a man who only earns $30,000 a year what he should or should not buy. Campers and RV lovers come from all walks of life; from the uber wealthy to the well, less fortunate. They share a common passion for the open road, new territories and bonfires.
Before we get heated and start ranking the best RV manufacturer let us keep in mind not all vehicles cost the same, and not all people have the same amount of money. Because you can afford an all aluminum 100% American-made unit does not mean everyone else can. For some people who are seeking to enjoy the outdoors the foreign made units are the only ones within their price range that allow them this pleasure.
It is this "shared pleasure" brings us to our final point
4. Focus on Enjoying Your Own Vacation
Pardon our French here, but who in the heck gives a damn about where your RV is made? We don't all hit the open road and and unite around fires at night or meals in the evening just to argue. No sir, we love to RV and we love to travel around America for the joy of adventure and the thrill of meeting other wonderful Americans.
It is the people and the land that make this place so great, so let us stop concerning ourselves with trivial matters like where our RVs were made. Instead let's all just sit down and enjoy RVing together like it was meant to be!
-Alamo RV Park Staff