May '19

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24 • RV PRO • May 2019 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S them. By making sure that we chose wisely, we were able to build a well-appointed coach at a more attractive price point. "For all of our fifth wheels, we took a 360-degree approach. We looked at the entire product lines as a whole and imple- mented what matters to our customer," Froman adds. KZ is betting that this new model will gain traction in the North American fifth wheel marketplace, of which KZ had garnered a roughly 1.5 percent share by year-end 2018. Meanwhile, the division continues to make improvements to its luxury fifth wheel toy hauler products, which includes Venom and the all new V-Series. The V-Series morphed from the Sidewinder last fall and is the same price point as the Sidewinder, "but with more relevant features," Snyder says. The Venom V-Series features six all-new floorplans for 2019 with MSRP's starting at $65,000. The luxury Venom product line is available in four floorplans in the MSRP starting at $75,000. The V3911TK is its top-selling floorplan. Staying Ahead of the Curve Tweaking products to hit home with consumers is some- thing of an art, and Snyder credits Froman and his staff with foreseeing the market trends and modifying content for the 2019 model year. "Early in 2018, we heard our customers talking about wanting full featured RVs at a more affordable price. Our team listened and were ready to go by September," Snyder says. "We had a huge model change ready for Open House (with lower price points). "A lot of manufacturers stripped their units of 'stuff ' after Open House. They were reacting afterward, whereas we had the foresight and were ahead of the game," she adds. "It all comes down to giving them (dealers and retail customers) a reason to buy your product." That's a crucial point in 2019, as a dealer inventory cor- rection that started in the second half of 2018 has slowed orders to all OEMs and spurred a downturn in wholesale shipments. Fifth wheel shipments totaled 87,851 in 2018, down 6.8 percent from 2017. Fifth wheel shipments year- to-date as of February were down 28.1 percent compared to the same period 2018. However, this slowdown had yet to fully materialize at the retail level in early 2019. January sales of fifth wheels posted the second-best January on record since the 2009 Great Recession, trailing only January 2018, according to Scott Stropkai, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based market data firm Statistical Surveys. Snyder speculates that as dealers work down their invento- ries this spring, innovation and price will be major factors in deciding which brands they will choose to refill the pipeline. "It will come down to value – is the unit worth the value?" she says. Snyder and Froman contend KZ's highline fifth wheels will pass that test this year. KZ's Venture division received a Judges' Award at the RVX show for its prototype Sonic X travel trailer featuring a lightweight carbon-fiber body. The eco-friendly 26-foot trailer is equipped with roof-mounted solar panels that can produce a combined 1,000 watts of power, which can be stored on the unit's nine Lithium-ion batteries. Read More About KZ: https://rv-pro.com/news/k-z-rv-debuts-self-sustainable-lightweight-rv https://rv-pro.com/news/k-z-hosts-another-successful-service-school https://rv-pro.com/news/k-z-debuts-sportsmen-se-series

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