Although many RV manufacturers now are delaying shipments to dealers because of a shortage of natural gas-fired ovens, they can take consolation in the fact that 2003 ended on an upbeat note, according to data released today (Feb. 2) by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
In fact, the 320,800 motorhomes and towable RVs that were shipped in 2003 exceeded the number Dr. Richard Curtin of the University of Michigan forecast would be shipped in 2004.
Late last year, Curtin, economic consultant to the RVIA, predicted 320,200 units would be shipped in 2004.
The peak year for RV shipments was 1999, when 321,100 units were delivered by factories to dealers. That means the 2003 shipments total was only 300 units shy of the peak year.
Shipment volume for Class A and Class C motorhomes and conventional and hybrid travel trailers was particularly strong during December, resulting in the better-than expected 2003 shipment total.
Curtin had forecast 2003 shipments would total 313,100 units.
In 2002, 311,000 RVs were delivered from factories to dealers.
Here is the shipments breakdown by product category:
• Travel trailer deliveries increased 14.1% in December to 8,900 units. During 2003, shipments increased 13.3% to 147,000 units, versus 129,700 in 2002.
• Fifth-wheel deliveries increased 8.9% in December to 4,900 units. In 2003, shipments increased 2% to 67,400 units, compared with 66,100 in 2002.
• Folding camper deliveries declined 7.7% in December to 2,400 units. In 2003, shipments fell 20.3% to 35,700 units, compared with 44,800 a year earlier.
• 600 truck campers were shipped in December, the same number delivered in December 2002. In 2003, truck camper deliveries fell 12% to 8,800 units, versus 10,000 a year earlier.
• Class A motorhome shipments increased 25.8% in December to 3,900 units. In 2003, deliveries increased 4.8% to 41,500 units, compared with 39,600 in 2002.
• 200 Class B motorhomes were delivered in December, the same number shipped in December 2002. In 2003, Class B deliveries fell 25% to 2,100 units, compared with 2,800 in 2002.
• Class C motorhome shipments increased 27.3% in December to 1,400 units. In 2003, deliveries increased 1.7% to 18,300 units, compared with 18,000 a year earlier.