Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), told Outlook 2009 attendees today (Dec. 2) in Louisville, Ky., that the RV industry’s history of posting strong recoveries from previous market downturns offers encouragement in the face of the current tough economic circumstances.
“For many of us here this morning, today’s situation is nothing new. We’ve seen and survived tough times before,” said Coon, a 30-year veteran of the RV industry. “We are a resilient industry that has a history of coming back stronger than ever.”
Among the examples Coon cited were:

  • In 1974, RV shipments fell to 295,800 units due to falling consumer confidence and an oil embargo, but the market soared two years later with shipments climbing to 405,000 in 1976.
  • Another oil price shock, restrictive government policies and high interest rates crippled the industry in 1980, lowering shipments to 107,200 in 1980. But subsequent RV shipments consistently improved with seven out of the next 10 years better than the year before.
  • RV shipments tumbled to 163,300 in 1991 as the dollar collapsed and property values fell, but shipments steadily regained ground over the next three years, culminating with 259,200 RVs shipped in 1994.
  • In 2000 and 2001, the country fell into another recession with RV shipments totaling 256,800 in 2001. However, as the economy recovered, RV shipments exploded with nearly 1.8 million units shipped in the next five years, averaging 360,000 units per year.
    Coon made these remarks at “Outlook 2009: We’ve Got Heart!” market expansion showcase, kicking off the 46th Annual National RV Trade Show.
    Coon also pointed to several hurdles that the RV industry will need to overcome as it recovers, including credit availability, unemployment, and the return of consumer confidence and wealth. He outlined what RVIA is doing to address these issues.
    On the credit availability issue, Coon said that RVIA is working alongside RVDA on identifying how to entice more banks, financial institutions and credit unions into the market by touting the strength and stability of RV loans.
    He also explained how RVIA is attempting to include the RV industry in new government stimulus packages for the economy.
    “Some of the economic fixes being talked about in Washington are potentially fixes for RV sales too,” Coon said. “With Republicans and Democrats agreeing on the importance of getting the economy back on track, we are working hard to expand that thought process to include the RV industry.”
    In addition to Congressional efforts, Coon detailed efforts to promote RV industry interests with the incoming Obama administration.
    “Our focus is on communicating the key issues for our members and our consumers, including protecting the second home mortgage interest deduction, preserving access to public lands, and advocating Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) that protect the availability and capability of tow vehicles,” he said.
    Coon emphasized the importance of the industry’s remaining aggressive in these tough times, saying, “it is critically important that we continue to aggressively fund Go RVing to position ourselves for growth as the economy and market improve. The fact of the matter is that the work done on behalf of the industry by Go RVing to convince Americans that RVing is a great path to happy lives is still working and will continue to work.”