Recreational vehicles gain popularity in Japan amid pandemic

Recreational vehicles, including motorhomes, are gaining popularity in Japan for family and individual trips to avoid crowded places amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw orders jump about 20% in 2020 compared to 2019 before the pandemic,” said Kenji Araki, president of Nuts RV Co., a major Japanese maker of recreational vehicles.

Strong demand continues this year and orders exceed production, Araki said, adding that some models take a year and a half to ship.

Some recreational vehicles sell for more than 10 million yen.

But models costing around 5 million yen, including one based on Toyota Motor Corp.’s Hiace van, are selling well. “Affordable prices and short delivery times are attractive to beginners,” Araki said.

RVs are often thought to be used at campsites, but they are frequently used at bus stations.

Family trips using RVs and restaurants are popular among people in their 30s and 60s, an official with the Japan RV Association said.

The number of recreational vehicles owned in Japan exceeded 100,000 in 2016 and increased to 127,400 in 2020.

The demand for recreational vehicles is expected to increase further. They’re also “increasingly being used for non-recreational purposes, including for remote work amid the pandemic and during natural disasters,” Araki said.

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