The vanlife industry is booming despite inflation

With rising prices, especially for gasoline, one would expect its popularity van life the wind runs out and the order books of Quebec companies are emptying like the beaches of Gaspésie in autumn. Surprise ! No way. Because apparently the van life two speeds…

Posted at 5:00 am

Stephanie Berube

Stephanie Berube
The press

“We didn’t invent anything. This form of travel has been around for decades,” says Catherine Vachon, director of business development, communications and marketing at Van Life Mtl, a vehicle rental and sales company. “But right now, she says, the projected image is very young. »

What changed the situation a few years ago was the depiction of van travel, reinforced by social networks. It presents a dream image around this unconventional way of life, which is synonymous with freedom. The most beautiful Instagram accounts of these travelers are to die for. In reality the van life 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

Apparently, the young people who convert their trucks strike a chord with the parents’ generation of consumers who also want to go to the open sea. And they have the means: Boréal Campeurs’ customers are older, sporty and wealthy, says Olivier Cinq-Mars.

Having a truck modified by Boréal Campeurs costs between $80,000 and $120,000, not including the price of the vehicle. Overall, it costs $200,000 to $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, the shortage of material increases the delays, confides Olivier Cinq-Mars.

It normally took two months to convert a vehicle at Boréal Campeurs. Now you have to wait four months after the start of the project and a year and a half before the start of the project because the waiting list is full.

Even in a more tense economic environment, there is no cancellation in sight, since this has hardly any impact on the clientele of high-end vehicles.

Other builders or landlords confirm these new deadlines.

At Safari Condo, which has been building motorhomes and caravans for 24 years, it now takes at least two and a half years before you hold your dream vehicle in your hands. Dominique Nadeau, President of this Beauce company, which employs 145 people, explains that in addition to the shortage of certain materials and labor, the boom in orders over the past year has lengthened delivery times. “We have returned to orders comparable to those of 2019,” explains Dominique Nadeau. And it’s been a good year. »


The depiction of traveling by van has been augmented by social networks.

The only clientele who might reconsider buying, according to Dominique Nadeau, are early retirees, who are playing it safe in the face of economic uncertainty. More than young people – who have also rejuvenated Safari Condo’s clientele in recent years. “Some young people, she says, make life choices to afford to buy a vehicle. »


Joining these enthusiasts, those who modify their vehicle with the means available and those who buy it new, are the families who often choose to lease.

Traveling in the comfort of a small motorhome is perfect for the family, according to Catherine Vachon, who is an enthusiast herself.


Van equipped by Bromont Campervan

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

But the majority of rentals are made by Europeans who come to Quebec with dreams of seeing it all in one trip. In this case, Oliver Marcoux plays the tourist advisers, offering them itineraries with shorter distances, which suddenly makes it possible to reduce gas bills.

That’s likely to be the trend in VR, says Nicolas Ryan, director of public affairs at CAA-Quebec. “This year, the price of petrol had little effect on travelers,” he says. Next year, in a similar economic context, Nicolas Ryan predicts that RV enthusiasts will down the road but not give up their travel style. According to CAA-Quebec, 10% of travelers in Quebec plan to use an RV this year, all types combined. Many people have embraced this type of vacation during the pandemic because it combines travel and accommodation, Ryan says.


Olivier Marcoux, President of Bromont Campervan

The sustainability of the many Quebec companies now offering the van life, whether for the purchase, conversion of a vehicle, loan between private individuals or rental, is guaranteed thanks to this diversification of the customer base, explains Olivier Marcoux. These are people who looked enviously at travelers in Westphalia but were not attracted to a particular culture of the campervan that we “see parked at Walmart and that occupies 14 spaces,” illustrates President de Bromont Campervan, who had no cancellations due to the increase in gas prices.

Instead, customers book their next trip when they return the vehicle. Many were trying this type of vacation for the first time and some Quebec customers wanted to try before they bought it. However, Olivier Marcoux’s clients will attest: getting your hands on a worthy pickup truck isn’t easy van lifeboth used and new.


Van equipped by Boréal Campers

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

“I don’t know a single person who rented a truck and didn’t fall in love with the truck van life”, She says.


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