The recreational vehicle industry’s shipments will reach 380,000 units in 2015, a 6.5% increase from the 356,735 shipped in 2014. According to a new forecast presented by RVIA Vice President Mac Bryan at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Joint Committee Luncheon today (June 2), RV shipments are expected to set a new record in 2016 with wholesale production predicted to total 394,500 units, surpassing the recent peak of 390,362 set in 2006.
RV shipments set new growth records in the first quarter of 2015, rising 7.9% from 2014 despite slow economic growth in the overall economy. As the economy bounces back from the poor start in 2015, which resulted from harsh winter weather and weaker exports due to a stronger dollar, RVIA anticipates motorhome shipments to reach their highest total since 2007, and conventional travel trailer and fifth-wheel trailer shipments to reach the highest level ever recorded.
“The U.S. economy is expected to continue to grow at a slow but steady pace supported by low inflation and favorable interest rates,” said Bryan, RVIA vice president of administration, during his presentation to RVIA members at the association’s annual Committee Week. “While interest rates are expected to increase, consumers expect only small increases as credit becomes more available.”
Although industry growth could be affected by myriad economic factors, two key factors that initially energized the RV market will continue to boost sales in the future, Bryan told the gathering.
“The first, and perhaps most important, is the deeply held preference for the RV lifestyle,” said Bryan. “The second is that we’re in the midst of the largest expansion of the market for new RVs in our lifetimes. Approximately 11,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day until 2029. And, through our Go RVing marketing efforts, we’re making strong inroads to younger buyers.”
“Rising home values will continue to strengthen home equity, and with small gains in the stock market, will strengthen the willingness and ability of new RV buyers,” Bryan said. “The ability of RV manufacturers to design and price units to match the changing desires of consumers will continue to boost sales.”
“Expansion of the potential market for new RVs will raise the floor on RV sales over the next decade,” Bryan said. “We’re going to see higher sales during both cyclical lows and highs.”
Bryan noted that just as industry leaders began preparing for Baby Boomers reaching retirement age some 30 years ago — while boomers were still in their 30s — current leaders must continue courting the millennial generation, which is now in their mid-30s.
“Millennials share core RV values,” Bryan said. “They place a higher value on family outdoor recreation than any prior generation. They’re tech savvy and expect digital and high-tech features in the products they purchase. The digital transformation will increasingly change how RV systems are controlled, monitored and diagnosed by all involved in RVing — manufacturer, dealer and RVer. Innovative products will insure future sales growth among the millennials.”