April '21

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I n 2020, wholesale RV shipments exceeded 430,000 units, marking the third-best year on record. Shipments of fifth wheels exceeded 81,500, representing a nearly 9 percent increase over 2019. With numbers like that – and projections for another strong year for RV shipments in 2021 – it's no wonder that fifth wheel hitch manufacturers are optimistic about their prospects this year. "When the world was falling apart and companies were shut- ting down operations, our leadership never panicked. Instead, we figured out how to work under COVID protocols and con- tinued to build product in the face of the pandemic," says Doug Northcutt, sales and marketing manager for Demco RV and Trailer Components. That resiliency appears to be paying off as the fifth wheel market recorded nearly 44 percent year-over-year growth in January. Company representatives for CURT, Demco and Horizon Global Americas are responding to the spike in consumer demand with new fifth wheel hitches that they describe as being innovative and industry-leading. A variety of market trends are influencing product development, according to company representatives. For one, consumers want their best-in-class pickups to model best- in-class towing equipment, says North- cutt. Heavy-duty fifth wheel tow ratings are in high demand as a result, "even if consumers don't tap into the product's full capability," he says. "I wouldn't be surprised if we see 34,000 pounds to 35,000 pounds capacity in coming years," says Russell Brzezinski, senior product management at Horizon Global Americas, who also recognizes rising OEM tow ratings as a market motivator. Improved ergonomics remain center stage as well, with greater emphasis on lightweight fifth wheel products that are easier to RV A F T E R M A R K E T Fiver Hitches Evolving with the Market Hitch manufacturers are making their products beefier to handle heavier towing loads while also making them easier to use and improving their aesthetics. By Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko Photos courtesy of CURT Group, Demco and Horizon Global 52 • RV PRO • April 2021 rv-pro.com As manufacturers of pickups continue to push boundaries in factory tow ratings, suppliers of fifth wheel hitches have been debuting products with increased towing capacity. Some suppliers expect towing capacities for fifth wheel hitches will continue to increase in coming years. (Photos courtesy of Horizon Global)

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