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The dramatic decline of the conversion vehicle sector was revealed by data recently released by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Shipments of converted vans, pickups and SUVs plunged 22.5% during 2000 to 118,200 units, compared with 152,600 units delivered to auto dealers during 1999, the RVIA reports.

This means there were fewer conversion vehicles shipped during 2000 than in any year in the 1990s. The smallest shipments volume in the 1990s occurred during 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War, when 130,400 units were delivered to auto dealers.

The most recent peak for the conversion vehicle sector occurred in 1994 when 259,600 units were delivered.

Van conversions is the largest component of the conversion vehicle industry, and van conversion shipments declined 26.6% in 2000 to 76,400 units.

Meanwhile, shipments of converted SUVs fell 43.8% in 2000 to 7,200 units and shipments of converted pickups declined a relatively modest 3.1% to 34,600 units, the RVIA reports.

The number of van conversions shipped during 2000 also was smaller than during any year in the 1990s. The 104,100 van conversions shipped during 1999 was the smallest during the decade, while the peak shipments volume occurred in 1993, when 192,400 van conversions were delivered.