When Thor Industries Inc. and Jayco Corp., both based in Elkhart, Ind., joined forces in July, it became the biggest story in the recreational vehicle industry world in 2016.

Yet, according to a KPC News report, the acquisition was just one example of RV companies looking for ways to keep pace with rising demand.

“We went into the year thinking it was going to be a very strong year and what ended up happening was we surpassed our own expectations,” said Kevin Broom, media relations director for the Virginia-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

An association forecast committee, working with Richard Curtin, director of consumer surveys for the University of Michigan, projected RV shipments would reach 395,000 this year and, as of mid-December, they exceeded 400,000.

“It’s the highest total we’ve had since 1981, when we started tracking the numbers in exactly the same way that we do now,” Broom said. “Certainly strengthening of the economy helped, and companies introducing products that are the right mix of size, amenities and price consumers are looking for.”

The industry increased the versatility of its products to appeal to a wider array of consumers in terms of how different people use RVs. Changes were evident in the introduction of products with a smaller footprint, lighter weight and improved aerodynamics, Broom said.

Some of the products launched this year were made in part with building materials new to the industry, and their production involved significant process improvements, he said.

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