Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Chairman Larry Troutt, owner of Topper’s Camping Center, a towable RV dealership in Houston, Texas, has raised a question that has vexed the RV industry for years: Should there be a uniform model-year release date, preferably sometime in the fall?
In his “Chairman’s Report” column in RVDA’s RV Executive Today magazine, Troutt comes down squarely in favor of a more orchestrated, industry-wide release date. And he suggests that the date be tied to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) seal, which he said shouldn’t be issued for the following model year until the preceding August.
It’s not an original suggestion, Troutt acknowledged. But swinging his weight as chairman of the nation’s largest RV dealers association, behind it, he feels, could make a difference.
“I decided I liked (the idea) so much I would endorse it myself,” he wrote.
Primarily, Troutt said that a model-release date would reduce consumer confusion while assisting dealers who are finding it more and more difficult to find floorplan financing for units made at about the same time ye with different model-year designations.
“Some manufacturers are predictable. Others are not,” he wrote. “Some introduced 2010 model-year product in late February or early March. Others have not yet introduced new model product.”
And still others won’t announce a model-year change at all; they upgrade their coaches on the run, he noted.
“This year, in part because of the national economic recession,” he said, “… at the beginning of 2009, our new, unsold 2007 product was deemed by some lenders not worthy of new-trailer retail financing terms. By mid-March, the same restrictions were on new 2008 product. With the early introduction of 2010 product, many dealers are concerned that new 2009 model product might come under the same time retail lending guidelines during the year.”
In the past, RVIA has declined to support a uniform model-release date, citing restraint-of-trade regulations. For part, individual manufacturers have insisted that the timing of when they release their new models is a competitive issue.
Troutt thinks RVIA ought to rethink the position.
“I personally doubt the issuance of a plastic seal with a model year clearly printed on it would cause any disruption of free-market trade,” he wrote, noting that non-RVIA manufacturers aren’t required to apply any seals to the units they build.
“I see it as a modest proposal intended to solve many of the problems associated with all the different model-year introduction days of so many manufacturers,” he wrote.