We met Mr. Kazuhide Abe, President of RV Land Co., Ltd. the largest dealer in the Japanese market representing 20 local and international brands through several extensive dealerships Japan. As part of those brands, they are also manufacturing their own vehicles and among others importing Hymer in this market.
Words Antonio Mazzucchelli and Bartek Radzimski
Photo Antonio Mazzucchelli
Aboutcamp BtoB: Could you please tell us when and how RV Land was established?
Kazuhide Abe: The company started 29 years ago, out of the idea to make a dealership where different brands of RVs could be seen at one location. In those days, there was no such place nationwide and RV Land was the first to introduce this concept in the market. Our concept is make the end user aware that if he goes to RV Land, he can see many different products and can choose what he prefers from different manufacturers. Since RV Land is offering vehicles from every segment, from kei-camper up to Hymer, we are attracting every kind of customer. Obviously, we don’t have many 20 year old customers, but aside from this we see customers from all age groups.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What is the concept for your dealerships?
Kazuhide Abe: RV Land has at the moment 4 direct locations which display various brands and 6 independent dealers for Hymer sales and service. Each of the direct locations is a slightly different concept; with the headquarter location located near Tokyo being the largest. We nicknamed this location “Camping Car Paradise” due the extensive selection of vehilces we showcase there. We also have another location near Tokyo which was established in cooperation with Aeon Mall; one of the biggest mall chains in Japan. Our third location focusing on RVs is located near Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu.
Lastly, we also have a dealership focusing on Renault Kangoo only. This vehicle design is quite popular among young Japanese and we sell this vehicle slightly modified with a bed in the back. For some Japanese, this is an entry car for enjoying outdoors; however, officially it does not classify as an RVs.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What do you see as the main focus for your company?
Kazuhide Abe: Our main aim is to provide our customer with an abundant choice of vehicles at the time of purchase and we also strive to be the best after-service provider in Japan. Recently, the “outdoor boom” is a real thing and the number of shops that are offering various products, including RVs is increasing. From my prospective, our approach to service is very important in order to differentiate ourselves and stay competitive.
Aboutcamp BtoB: You are a dealer of Hymer in Japan, can you tell us about this brand in Japan?
Kazuhide Abe: My company became the exclusive importer for Hymer brand about 10 years ago, however, Hymer has been represented in Japan for 30 years. Since my company took over the brand, we have seen a significant increase in the number of units sold. Most customer shopping for an RV are aware of the Hymer brand, it’s long history and the luxury that it provides. As the market for the large vehicles in Japan is limited, we also introduced the Hymer Car Brand a few years ago. These vehicles have lower price stickers and are easier to drive and park, so we have seen good feedback from our customers.
Aboutcamp BtoB: What is currently missing from the Japanese market that you would like to have?
Kazuhide Abe: In my view, one key topic that has to be addressed is the RVing focused infrastructure. Although Japan has quite developed, RV market specific infrastructure still needs more development. For example, the number of campsites that can accommodate larger RVs, have electric plugins and dump stations is very limited throughout Japan. Putting more energy into this kind of infrastructure will make the convincing and sale of RVs to new customer much easier.
Aboutcamp BtoB: How do you see the prognosis for the Japanese market in the next 5 to 10 years?
Kazuhide Abe: Generally speaking, I think that the prognosis is positive. For the Japanese society, there is an ongoing shift in how people approach work/life balance and also the government is increasing the number of national holidays and introducing laws to decrease overtime.
However, in order to have a significant growth in the market the infrastructure issue I mentioned earlier will have to be developed.
Aboutcamp BtoB: Can you give us and idea about what models and how many vehicles you are selling?
Kazuhide Abe: Among all our dealerships, we sell about 550 RVs and caravans per year. The main volume is done through our headquarter location, with Kyūshū shop also being a strong second. At the Aeon Mall location, we mostly show smaller vehicles like van-conversion and kei-campers with the purpose of attracting potential clients. We also have several vehicles for rental there so that new customer can try out the RVing life.