European Motor-homes – Why don’t we have these small motor-home campers in the USA?


European Styled Motor-homes – We’re in the middle of a 11 day trip around Iceland in a rented motor-home.  We are enjoying the Fiat Ducato van based motor-home – diesel – with excellent gas mileage and maneuverability.

It seems that in the US you need to drop 100 grand to get a small van conversion or smaller motor-home.  The market seems to be retired doctors and lawyers. Meanwhile the rest of the country, from Europe to New Zealand, middle class families seem to be able to purchase and enjoy camping with small motor-homes based on efficient van such as the Fiat Ducato.

VW California - sold in Europe but not US
VW California – sold in Europe but not US

Blame it on the wide open roads and space available in the US?

Remember VW camper vans?  They sell plenty of them in Europe but none in the USA.  When asked why, VW says its demand.

Q: Is there something different about the European market and why that works in the European market, and why that doesn’t work here in the U.S.?

I would say it’s due to size. Let’s say you’re taking your average camper van and you’re going to Italy, take a U.S. van, you wouldn’t be able to access all these little alleys, these streets that they have – you would be stuck.

So you need something compact in order to get where you want to go. Over here, where everything is accessible, even for large RVs, there is just not this demand. Therefore, people in the majority would rather go for something bigger, if they’re looking for RVs.

Personally I’d rather not try to pull a full sized RV into a tourist spot parking lot.  Even here in Iceland with a small motor-home, finding a parking spot at the top tourist destinations can be a challenge.  Even a stop at a gas station requires a bit of thinking ahead and careful planning.  Plus, a large RV is a gas hog that will ofen end up being parked somewhere rather than being driving to save on gas money.