Makeover needed: Motor homes

Name an industry affected by these problems: high gas prices, tight credit, and delayed retirement. One answer --- the motor home industry, in particular, the land cruisers costing $100,000 or more. According to a recent survey, motor home sales fell a huge 40% in the third quarter, while inventory grew to half-a-year's worth.

The reason are all too evident. Those with the loose cash to buy them probably were deeply invested in the stock market. Those without the cash might use a line of credit against their home to finance the purchase, a pool of money that has dried up. If they try to finance the vehicle conventionally, they might find loans hard to come by. GE recently discontinued loaning money on boats and motor homes, considering them too risky as investments.

The market decline is also causing many boomers to reconsider retirement, and many had envisioned buying a motor home and exploring the country in their golden years. Many planned to pay for the motor home by selling their house, another dicey proposition.

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The rising cost of gas also increases the operating cost of a motor home. At 5-10 mpg, long-distance travel becomes a very expensive proposition.

How can the industry combat the malaise, except by praying for a market recovery?