The van living industry is booming, despite inflation

With rising prices, particularly for gasoline, one would expect the popularity of van it’s running low and the order books of Quebec companies are emptying like the beaches of Gaspésie in the fall. Surprise ! No way. because apparently the van two speeds…

Posted at 5:00 am

Stephanie Berube

Stephanie Berube

“We did not invent anything. This way of traveling has been around for decades,” says Catherine Vachon, director of business development, communications and marketing for Van Life Mtl, a company that rents and sells vehicles. “But at the moment, she says, the projected image is very young. »

What changed the situation a few years ago was the representation of van travel, magnified by social media. It presents an oneiric image around this bohemian way of life, synonymous with freedom. The most beautiful Instagram accounts of these travelers are a dream. Actually, the van at two speeds.

“These influencers are our best ambassadors,” says Olivier Cinq-Mars, president of Boréal Campeurs, which designs custom vehicles.



Olivier Cinq-Mars, president of Boréal Campers

The youngsters who have modified their trucks have obviously struck a chord with consumers belonging to their parents’ generation, who also want to get out on the open sea. And they have the means: Boréal Campeurs’ clientele is older, sporty and wealthy, says Olivier Cinq-Mars.

Modifying a truck at Boréal Campeurs costs between $80,000 and $120,000, which does not include the price of the vehicle. In total, it will cost you between $200,000 and $250,000 to get your hands on the RV of your dreams. The solar system alone is worth $15,000 to $20,000.

And this clientele has its demands and does not skimp on extras, even in times of inflation. On the other hand, with the shortage of materials, delays increase, trusts Olivier Cinq-Mars.

Normally it took two months to modify a vehicle at Boréal Campeurs. Now we have to wait four months once the project has started and a year and a half before it starts, since the waiting list is full.

No cancellation in sight, even in a tighter economic environment, as this has little impact on the high-end car clientele.

Other construction companies or lessors confirm these new terms.

At Safari Condo, which has been building RVs and trailers for 24 years, it now takes at least two and a half years to get your hands on your dream vehicle. Dominique Nadeau, president of this Beauce-based company that employs 145 people, explains that in addition to the shortage of certain materials and labour, last year’s boom in orders has lengthened delivery times. “We returned to orders that are compared to those of 2019, explains Dominique Nadeau. And it was a good year. »



The representation of van travel has been magnified by social media.

The only clientele that could reconsider a purchase at the moment, according to Dominique Nadeau, is that of early retirees, who are safe in the climate of economic uncertainty. More than young, they have also rejuvenated Safari Condo’s clientele in recent years. “Some young people, she says, make life decisions in order to buy a vehicle. »

To lease

To these enthusiasts, those who modify their vehicle with the means at hand and those who buy it new, are added families who often opt for leasing.

Hitting the road, in the comfort of a small RV, is perfect for the family, according to Catherine Vachon, an enthusiast herself.



Van equipped by Bromont Campervan

Olivier Marcoux, owner of the young camper van rental company Bromont, has a very diverse clientele, including families.

But most of their rentals are made by Europeans who come to tour Quebec and dream of seeing it all in one trip. In this case, Oliver Marcoux plays the role of tourist advisers and offers them itineraries with shorter distances, which allows, all of a sudden, to lower the gas bill.

That will probably be the trend in virtual reality, says Nicolas Ryan, director of public affairs for CAA-Quebec. “This year, the price of gasoline has had little influence on travelers,” he says. Next year, against a similar economic backdrop, Nicolas Ryan predicts that RV enthusiasts will cut back on the road, but not abandon their style of travel. According to CAA-Quebec, this year 10% of Quebec travelers plan to use an RV, all types combined. Many people have embraced this mode of vacationing during the pandemic because it combines travel and lodging, says Ryan.



Olivier Marcoux, President of Bromont Campervan

The sustainability of the many Quebec companies that now offer the van, whether for the purchase, the modification of a vehicle, the loan between individuals or the rental, is guaranteed thanks to this diversification of the clientele, explains Olivier Marcoux. They are people who looked with envy at travelers in Westphalia, but who were not attracted by a certain culture of the recreational vehicle that we see “parked at Walmart and occupying 14 parking spaces”, illustrates the president of Bromont Campervan, who had not there cancellations due to the increase in gas prices.

Instead, customers book their next trip when they return their vehicle. Many were trying this type of vacation for the first time, and some Quebec customers wanted to try it before they buy. However, Olivier Marcoux’s clients confirm it: it is not easy to get hold of a small van worthy of the vanboth used and new.



Van enabled by Boréal Campers

According to Catherine Vachon, the years of COVID-19 have revived our interest in trip. Converted vans are perfect for getting away from it all and allow great freedom when traveling.

“I don’t know a single person who has rented a truck and hasn’t fallen in love with it. vanlife”, she says.



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