The wholesale market for conversion vehicles shrunk dramatically during 2001, according to data gathered by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Shipments of van conversions from the factories to auto dealerships reached 200,000 units a year in the late 1980s, but shrunk to 45,000 units in 2001, a 41% decline from the year 2000 level, the RVIA reported.

Meanwhile, deliveries of converted pickups fell 57% in 2001 to 14,800 units and converted sport utility vehicle (SUV) shipments declined 39% last year to 4,400 units.

The popularity of unconverted SUVs which developed during the 1990s crowded conversion vehicles off the shelves of many car dealers, percipitating the decline.

Adding to the decline was the departure of several major conversion vehicle producers last year, according to industry sources.