After outperforming the industry in 2003, Gulf Stream Inc.’s motorized division recorded robust growth rates during the first quarter of this year, according to Claude Donati, vice president of sales and marketing for the division.
Gulf Stream Class A motorhome shipments were up 29.2% and its retail sales increased 21% when the first three months of this year are compared with the same portion of last year, Donati said.
Class C motorhome wholesale deliveries were up 27% and retail sales were up 15.7% when the first quarter of this year is compared with the same portion of 2003.
For all of 2003, Gulf Stream’s Class A retail sales increased 13.1% while the entire Class A segment expanded by 5.4% over 2002, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Retail sales of Gulf Stream’s Class C’s grew by 7.8% last year while the entire Class C sector grew by 5.8% last year, Statistical Surveys reported.
Gulf Stream has continued to increase its volume by quickly responding to marketplace changes that occurred recently within the two main motorhome categories, Donati said. For example, the subset of the Class C category that includes Gulf Stream’s BT Cruiser touring coach “has become saturated” with similar products built by other manufacturers. But Donati said “traditional Class C’s” and the Class C rental market are strong.
Sales of Gulf Stream’s Endura “Super C,” built on the beefy Chevrolet Kodiak chassis with a 19,500-pound GVWR and 10,000-pound towing capacity, also have picked up, he said. Gulf Stream will introduce a triple-slide Endura, available with either a gas or diesel engine, in about 30 days, although the main marketing push for the triple-slide Endura will occur during the company’s national dealer meeting in Nappanee, Ind., June 1-7.
In Class A’s, “business is shifting more to lower-end diesels,” Donati said. “People are spending $150,000 (on a diesel pusher), not $200,000.”
Gulf Stream is responding to this shift with its Crescendo diesel pusher, which comes on a Freightliner raised-rail chassis with a 330-hp Caterpillar engine in either a 35-foot double-slide floorplan, or a 38-foot triple-slide arrangement.
The wholesale prices for the entry-level diesel Crescendo are $20,000 to $25,000 below competing models. “We’ve taken thinner margins to create action in lower-end diesels,” Donati said.