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RVIA’s Coon Focuses on Long-Term Trends, Industry Growth at Outlook 2011

In a presentation titled “Forging Our Future” at Outlook 2011: “A New Era Begins” held Nov. 30 at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., RVIA President Richard Coon examined emerging trends that will impact the RV marketplace in the future and provided a positive forecast for RV wholesale shipments in 2011.

“As we come together for the National RV Trade Show this year, we are once again on the path to recovery with the economy gradually gaining strength, RV shipments tracking upward, and a forecast projecting more growth in the coming year,” Coon said. “But, if we are to capitalize on the promise of a new era, there a few key issues that require our attention.”

Coon cited the availability of credit; the growth of green technology; the need for quality aftermarket service; and the increasingly global nature of the RV market as trends that will shape the future of the RV industry.

He reported that while credit availability has been an issue for many industries, he has seen signs of recent improvement and said the RV industry was fortunate to have had financing partners that remained in the market.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank those banks and financial institutions for the loyalty and support they demonstrated by standing with us through the economic downturn,” Coon said.

He also pointed to the recent expansion of the Small Business Administration’s Dealer Floorplan Pilot Program as having the potential to loosen credit by providing more floorplan opportunities to dealers.  The new program has been extended until September 2013, allows dealers to borrow up to $5 million, and, makes dealer with a higher net worth – up to $15 million – eligible.

 Coon said there are several factors driving the trend toward more green technology, including consumers being more environmentally aware; market forces such as oil and gas prices, and government policy such as greenhouse gas regulations and CAFE standards.

“Given the various forces at work, our industry must continue to be proactive in designing and building the RVs of tomorrow,” Coon said

He also lauded the industry for the progress already made in this area, citing the trend toward better-designed and lighter-weight products in both the towable and motorhome segments of the market that that are more fuel-efficient.

Coon also stressed that as RVs become more technologically advanced, the need for quality aftermarket service will remain one of the industry’s top priorities.  To help develop and drive new programs to bolster aftermarket service, Coon reported that RVIA is wrapping up a groundbreaking demographic study of the RV service technician that surveyed technicians, RV owners and RV dealers. This research will provided much-needed data about the RV service technician career path and the impact of the industry’s training and certification programs on service delivery and customer satisfaction.

Finally, Coon said another key long-term factor playing a critical role in the future of the RV industry is the increasingly global nature of the RV market.  In addition to the United States and Canada, Europe and Australia have established RV markets while lucrative new markets are possible in South America, South Africa and China, in particular.

“There is very strong interest in the further development of the RV industry in China where consumers with more disposable income and leisure time than ever before have shown an interest in RV ownership,” Coon said.  “That represents tremendous potential.”

He explained that RVIA is taking step to capitalize on this potential by forming a Foreign Affairs Subcommittee and an ad hoc China Committee to focus on critical issues, build relationships and work to harmonize building standards.

Coon concluded his remarks by providing the forecast for the RV market in 2011, reporting that University of Michigan economist Dr. Richard Curtin forecasts wholesale RV shipments to finish 2010 at 236,700 units a 43% increase over the 165,700 units shipped in 2009.

Looking ahead to 2011, Dr. Curtin sees RV shipments climbing by 4% to 246,000 units, with increases spread across all vehicle types:
•       Travel trailer shipments are expected to climb 3% to 145,600 units
•       Fifth wheels are expected to jump 5% to 57,200 units
•       Folding camping trailers will increase by 2% to 14,000 units
•       Truck campers will see an 8% rise to 2,900 units.
Motorized segments are also expected to see gains:
•       Type A motorhome shipments are set to rise 2% to 13,300 units.
•       Type B motorhomes will hit 1,900 units on 19% growth
•       Type C motorhomes will increase by 8% to 11,100 units.

Photos of the event are available. Contact Bill Baker, RVIA senior communications director, at (304) 676-9138 or bbaker@rvia.org.

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