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The full exterior body paint option has greatly boosted sales of Newmar Corp.’s Mountain Aire highline gas Class A motorhome brand this spring, according to Dick Parks, the Nappanee, Ind.-based company’s president.
“It’s been amazing the number of high end gas products we’ve been able to sell,” said Parks, whose company ranked No. 6 in terms of retail market share for gas and diesel motorhomes in 2001, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. “Full (body) paint probably has done more than anything to help the sales of high end gas product.”
Full body paint, along with gas engine chassis with 22 1/2-inch wheels, has blurred the distinction between highline gas and entry-level diesel motorhomes, which has stimulated highline gas sales, Parks believes.
The full exterior paint option is not cheap, it can add more than $5,000 to the retail price, but retail buyers apparently are willing to pay the added cost to get the diesel motorhome look, Parks said.
The strength of the high end of the gas market is largely responsible for the “huge demand for gas chassis and I’m not sure that’s cleared up yet,” Parks said during an interview Thursday (May 16). “The biggest issue is on the Workhorse (Custom Chassis) side, it seems to be a very popular chassis now.”
The lead time for receiving Workhorse chassis is about 10 weeks now, said Parks, who added that Newmar has an adequate supply of chassis because “we’ve done a good job of planning ahead.”
The lead times for diesel engine chassis “are not quite as bad,” he added.
The wholesale and retail markets for Class A motorhomes, both gas and diesel, had a robust first quarter. Wholesale shipments of gas and diesel engine Class A’s increased 11.8% to 9,500 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and retail sales climbed 14.6% to 8,613 units, according to Statistical Surveys, an independent market research firm.
But Parks is uncertain whether the market strength can continue in the near term. “It’s obvious, there was some amount of pent-up demand and I think everyone saw that. It’ll be a real interesting situation the next six months. I don’t have any reason to feel negative but I’m not sure that the market will come back as robustly as we would like to see it. It may be more gradual.”