When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Economy

France's 'Grandpa Boom' Fuels A Surge In RV Sales

France is also seeing its baby-boomer generation reach retirement age. And many new French retirees, with the time and money to spare, are opting to take the RV route. Still, they could still have trouble down the road finding places to park.

RVs in Saumur, France
RVs in Saumur, France
Denis Fainsilber

PARISAs France's baby boomers reach retirement age, many are using their newfound free time to hit the open road – often behind the wheel of a brand-new recreational vehicle (RV). Overall, some 65,000 people, many of them early retirees, cough up the cash each year for a new or used RV.

Over the past 15 years, RV sales have risen steadily in France – from 5,000 units per year to approximately 20,000 currently. In addition, French customers buy approximately 47,000 used RVs per year. For much of that time France was the European leader when it comes to RV sales, although last year Germany reclaimed the top spot.

France saw a sales peak in 2007, when customers snatched up a record 23,600 new RVs. The market dipped quite a bit as a result of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, but is now back on the upswing. "Between January and August, sales of new vehicles rose by 5% and second-hand sales by 3%," says Caroline Nagiel, secretary general of France's Leisure Vehicles Union. Nagiel expects 2011 sales to end up in the 18,500-19,000 range, depending on how many orders are secured during this week's Leisure Vehicles Trade Show, which is being held outside of Paris.

An estimated 600,000 RVs are already travelling Europe's roads. France alone has about 230,000 such vehicles. Industry professionals are confident the market will continue to grow in the coming years thanks to the aging population of baby boomers – or "papy-boomers' (grandpa-boomers), as they've been dubbed in France.

"The market will keep growing, just like the number of seniors," says Francois Feuillet, the head of Trigano, the country's leading RV brand. Trigano accounts for 25%-30% of RV sales in France. In Europe as a whole, the company enjoys a 20% market share, ahead of rival brands Pilot and Rapido.

Most RV customers are men in their mid-50s who travel with their wives and use their RVs "intensively," according to Feuillet. On average, they take 17 trips per year and spend 77 nights in their RVs. "For them, vacation no longer means anything, because very few of our costumers still work. Those who do, tend to rent RVs rather than buy them," says Feuillet.

Deep pockets

Besides having enough free time to really take advantage of their vehicles, RV customers must also have a fair amount of money to spend. A fully equipped RV (with a kitchen, bed and bathroom) can easily run in the 50,000-euro range. "With an RV, you usually spend 23 hours a day parked, so the inside is more important than its driving qualities," says Feuillet.

RV makers, which tend to be family-owned businesses, buy the frames and engines from carmakers (Trigano buys from Fiat and Ford) and then assemble the end product in their factories. Although Trigano only has three sizes of frames, it still offers 11 different brands. Examples include Chausson, Karmann, Challenger and Autostar. "It's a bit like building individual houses," says Feuillet. "There are multiple and very different needs, that's why I keep them."

The industry is facing one major problem: not happy with seeing their public parking spaces filled with these bulky vehicles, some towns are trying to prohibit RVs from their lots. "These local decisions are illegal. The industry won several court cases against the cities of Nice, Cannes, La Baule and Arcachon," says Feuillet. In the court of popular opinion, however, the jury is still out.

Read the original article in French

Photo - udn

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ