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Recreational vehicles including camper vans are gaining popularity in Japan for family and individual trips to avoid crowded places amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw orders climb by about 20% in 2020 from 2019 before the pandemic,” said Kenji Araki, president of Nuts RV Co., a major Japanese recreational vehicle maker.

Strong demand continues into this year, and orders outpace production, Araki said, adding that some models take a year and a half to deliver.

Some recreational vehicles sell for more than ¥10 million.

But models costing around ¥5 million, including one based on Toyota Motor Corp.’s Hiace van, sell well. “Affordable prices and short delivery dates are appealing to beginners,” Araki said.

Recreational vehicles are often thought to be used at camp sites, but they are frequently used at roadside stations.

Family trips using recreational vehicles and restaurants are popular among people in their 30s to 60s, an official of the Japan Recreational Vehicle Association said.

The number of recreational vehicles owned in Japan exceeded 100,000 in 2016 and increased to 127,400 in 2020.

Demand for recreational vehicles is expected to grow further. They are “also increasingly used for nonrecreational purposes including for remote work amid the pandemic and during natural disasters,” Araki said.

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