The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has authorized its members to hike the maximum size of fifth-wheel trailers from 400 to 430 square feet and still meet association standards.

The change takes effect immediately.

Additionally, RVIA, as part of an alliance  developing with the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA), will consider reducing the size of travel trailers from 400 square feet to 320 square feet, the size allowed until Jan. 1, 2008, RVIA President Richard Coon told RVBusiness.

”That is part of our developing arrangement with RPTIA,” Coon said following RVIA’s March 27 board meeting at the Embassy Suites Chicago-O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill. Coon said that the expanded fifth-wheel square-footage limit should affect units only in the setup mode. ”You pull out the slideouts and the old number (400 square feet) just doesn’t cut it,” Coon said. ”People are wanting to build units that are a little bit bigger. This doesn’t have to do with length, it has to do with slideouts.”

Travel trailers larger than 320 square feet will be considered park models, should the change be adopted, Coon said. 

With regard to RVIA’s often stormy relations with RPTIA, it has established an ad hoc committee to explore the potential for RPTIA members to rejoin RVIA some 16 years after park-model builders were ejected from the RV-building dominated trade association. 

Afterward, recreational park trailer manufacturers set up their own association, now headquartered in Newnan, Ga.

The accommodation, from all appearances, has a lot to do with the tough economic times and the need for these once disparate elements to pull together.

Market trends, at the same time, have prompted a convergence in product types.”We want to work together for a couple of years in an alliance to see what we can do about rolling RPTIA into RVIA, if they are comfortable with that,” Coon said. ”We have some issues about what their needs are going to be and they have issues about how we are going to treat them. Each of us is looking for some good faith on the part of the other going forward.”

Early last year, RPTIA harshly criticized RVIA when it allowed  manufacturers to increase the size of travel trailers to 400 square feet and effectively caused RVIA to scrap earlier plans to allow fifth-wheels to be larger than 400 square feet.

In other business the RVIA board:

  • Adopted recommendations from a committee that met in January to update its strategic plan. 

   Priorities include insuring sufficient RV wholesale and retail financing, pursuing a favorable business environment for            RVIA members, growing and expanding the RV market, protecting the health and well-being of RVIA, providing industry      information and knowledge, creating a positive RV experience for all consumers and fostering continuous RV product              improvements.    

  ”We are taking a multi-pronged approach on the economy as part of the strategic plan,” said RVIA spokesman Bill Baker.       ”We are continuing to work with the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration to free       up lending in that area.

   Several federal legislators have written to the SBA supporting RVIA’s argument that the definition of small business should    be increased to 500 or fewer employees and gross earnings of $25 million or less so that small and mid-sized RV                        dealerships can qualify for SBA loans.       

   The current definition of a small business is one that earns an average of less than $7 million over three years. 

   ”This is aimed at dealerships to finance floorplans, but smaller manufacturers also could qualify,” Baker said.

  • Decided to refund the $4.05 cost of the RVIA seal to affix to RVs meeting RVIA standards purchased by companies that have left the organization. The Go RVing assessment on each seal — $46 for folding camping trailers and truck campers to $61 for travel trailers and fifth-wheels and $74 for motorhomes — will not be refunded on the premise that the manufacturer already will have benefited from the market expansion program.