October '18

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10 • R V PR O • October 2 018 rv-pro.co m R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S C lass B motorho mes as a market seg ment are on the move. Consider that wholesale ship ments to dealers are on track this year to nearly double what ship ments totaled just five years ago, according data fro m the R V Industry Asso- ciation (see Figure 1 on page 12). Year-to-date as of July, ship- ments to dealers are up 8.5 percent over the sa me period last year, R VI A data sho ws. For its part, market data fir m Statistical Surveys pegs the uptick in Class B retail sales at 140.2 percent in North A merica (the U.S. plus Canada) fro m 2013 to 2017. (Editor's note: Stat Surveys doesn't make the underlying proprietary sales nu mbers publicly available.) Still, while Class B's are recording i mpressive gro wth, per- centage- wise, the ca mper van seg ment re mains a niche market when co mpared with its Class A and Class C brethren. Specifi - cally, the 5,600 Class B's that are expected to ship to dealers for 2018 pale in co mparison to the 24,600 Class A motorho mes and 35,300 Class C motorho mes that are expected to ship to dealers this year. Despite being a niche market, the seg ment has seen a nu mber of ne w players in recent years. Once the do main of a s mall handful of players such as Air - strea m and Canadian R V makers Pleasure- Way and Roadtrek, ne wer entrants include Chinook (2016), Coach men (2015), Dolphin Motor Coach (2017), Mid west Auto motive Designs (2012), and Regency R V (2016). Additionally, Ever Green R V entered the Class B market in 2014 but shuttered its entire R V manufacturing operations in 2016. The jockeying for position in the Class B market is partly reflected in the changing leaderboard for the Top 5 manufac- turers over the past five years (see Figure 2 A and 2B on page 16). So, what's spurring the de mand for Class B's? For its part, RVI A touts Class B's as offering "big adventures in a s maller R V." Manufacturers intervie wed for this article echo that senti ment. Class B's are attractive to " many of the Baby Boo mers ... who don't want to give up the lifestyle, but who also don't want to drive in a 42-foot diesel pusher or big Class A motorho me," says Nick Recchio, general manager of Coach men Class B's. " They want so mething a little more si mple and a little more ni mble. An extre me a mount of our custo mers are co ming out of the Class A's for the Class B's. They are not willing to give up the R V experience – they just want to do wnsize." Class B's tend to appeal to custo mers who appreciate their flexibility for everyday use, their relative fuel econo my, and the fact that – co mpared to a big Class A motorho me – they are "less inti midating" to drive, according to Jake Stephenson, regional sales manager for Mid west Auto motive Designs. Whether the Class B market can sustain its gro wth mo mentu m fro m the past five years moving for ward re mains an open question. For his part, Recchio re mains opti mistic. "I truly believe that there is far more gro wth ahead," he says. " There are thousands of Baby Boo mers that will be do wnsizing in the next couple years and what I a m most excited about is the tre mendous opportunity to earn the business of those Wit h Class B motor ho mes s ho wi ng dra matic gro wt h i n t he past five years, several ne w players have j u mped i nto t he market. W het her t he nic he market ca n mai ntai n its mo me nt u m movi ng for ward re mai ns a n ope n q uestio n. By Garriso n Wells P H OT OS C O URTESY OF C O AC H ME N R V, MI D WEST A UT O M OTI VE A N D RE GE NCY R V T he Ne w B's

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