Monaco Coach Corp., primarily a manufacturer of diesel-pusher motorhomes, will begin building lower-priced and lighter-weight towable units this summer, President John Nepute told investment analysts last week.
Among Monaco’s lower-priced, lighter-weight towables will be a toy hauler that will be introduced at the company’s national dealer meeting June 24-26 in Las Vegas.
The toy hauler will have a retail price tag that is “$4,000 to $5,000 less than our current product,” Nepute said during a conference call with investment analysts on Thursday (April 23). Its wholesale price will be 12% to 15% below Monaco’s current lowest-priced towable offering, he added.
Monaco sold 1,223 diesel pushers, 475 gasoline-engine motorhomes and 669 towables to its dealers during the first quarter of this year.
The company’s towables operation is profitable, which explains why Monaco is going ahead with its towables plant expansion project in Elkhart, Ind., despite the fact it recently laid off 850 of its 5,900 employees and reduced its production volume by 20% because of the motorhome wholesale market’s slowdown in March, said Kay Toolson, chairman and CEO.
Monaco and, apparently, all other motorhome manufacturers are discounting their motorhomes “at all price points,” according to Nepute. However, he added, “I don’t see quite as much discounting in towables. Some manufacturers are doing quite well.”
Retail sales of Monaco’s towables declined 13% during the Jan. 1 through April 23 period, when compared with the same portion of 2002. However, Nepute said, he was not discouraged by that performance because “over the past year and a half we’ve been capacity-constrained and in some respects, that’s been a detriment to our (towables) product development. We might have gotten a little complacent because it was pretty easy to sell them.”
Nepute added that Monaco’s towables tend to be at the upper end of the price range for the categories in which it competes. But he aid those segments are diminishing.
In response, he said, “We’re introducing ‘04 models that are all of the things the market seems to be going towards.“