The California RV Show, which starts Friday at Fairplex in Pomona, will have the new wrinkles that are inevitable when rival manufacturers try to stand out in the flood of product introductions a new model year brings.
The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, reported that Roger Humeston said the event could be an indicator of what the next year or so will be like for the industry, which is expected to be down significantly this year, and has seen numerous manufacturers and dealerships go out of business.
Humeston, CFO at Moreno Valley-based manufacturer MVP RV, said the show, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), is important in that it will set up the company’s expectations for the upcoming year.
He said indications from dealers suggest that this year’s show will be an improvement over last year and what happens in Pomona could impact the pace at which MVP develops new products.
The Pomona show will reveal something of RV buyers’ state of mind, he added, particularly whether buyers can get credit, and how fuel prices are affecting their decisions.
“(The show takes place) in the middle of a lot of nervousness about credit crunch, with a lot of dealers and … manufacturers now out of business,” Humeston said. “Nobody really knows how all this is affecting the RV buyer.”
If the show generates more traffic and more sales than in 2007, “it is going to make a big difference for us all,” Humeston said.
Show organizers and Inland RV industry workers say visitors will be reminded repeatedly about the opportunities the 2009 model year will provide in terms of fuel economy.
According to the Press-Enterprise, Humeston said travel trailers will be lighter, meaning vehicles that tow them won’t have to be as large and thirsty.
Melanie Ingle, vice president for corporate affairs at retailer Giant RV which has five Inland stores, said motorhome buyers are going to get fuel efficiency without sacrificing luxury.
She said several manufacturers are taking the luxury appointments currently found in their larger Class A motorhomes, and putting them into Class C rigs, which are based on lighter chassis. Some of the latest Class C motorhomes can get 16 to 18 miles per gallon, she said.
In the past, Ingle said, Class C units have been built with young families and first-time buyers in mind, and tended to come with fewer amenities.
Ingle said Giant RV always has a large presence in Pomona. She said the dealership will have several displays at the show, and hopes to draw RV enthusiasts who live full-time in Southern California.
Show representative Penny Nicolai said there will be more than 1,000 RVs on display at the show. The event will also include prizes, seminars, live music, and 40,000 square feet of RV products and accessories.
Frank DeGelas, owner of Mike Thompson’s RV Super Stores, which has a store in Colton, said the dealership will probably have 150 salespeople on hand at the show.
He said Mike Thompson’s hopes to sell several hundred units during the show, though he doesn’t expect to hit the 500 sales the show generated when the industry was booming a few years ago.
DeGelas said a tight credit market won’t damage manufacturers’ efforts to bring out innovative new products. He and Nicolai said Keystone RV Co, for example, is showing its new Outback Loft trailer at the show. The loft features a pop-up segment that creates a second story room, and a “garage” for motorcycles or ATVs.
CT Coachworks LLC, DeGelas said, is upgrading its Sienna motorhome to include a rooftop patio, complete with railing.