A vigorous travel trailer market offset year-long weakness in the motorhome sector, as the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reported wholesale shipments totaled 384,400 units in 2005, a 3.9% increase over the previous year.
It represented the best performance for the industry since 1978, a benchmark that was established in 2004 when wholesale shipments totaled 370,100 units.
Travel trailer deliveries surged during the latter part of 2005 – up 44.7% in December and 20.2% for the full year – reflecting strong demand as well as the substantial number of conventional units that were used for relief efforts in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region.
The figures did not include stripped-down Emergency Living Units (ELUs) built specifically by OEMs for the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) without holding tanks. RVIA reported that 15,500 ELUs were shipped in December, bringing year-to-date totals to 38,900 units.
While travel trailers shipments eclipsed the past year, the motorhome market was weighed down by soft retail sales and overproduction by OEMs – trends that first surfaced in August of 2004 and lingered through the bulk of last year.
Overall motorhome shipments were down 27.1% in December from 2004 and fell 14.5% for the year. Class A deliveries, in particular, were impacted by weak demand, showing a 31% decline in December and an 18.1% drop for the full year.
All other sectors, except for the relatively low-volume Class B category, were down from 2004 for the year.
Highlights of the report include:
• Overall December shipments increased 12.4% to 29,100 units from 25,900 the previous year.
• Motorized shipments fell 27.1% to 4,300 units in December compared to 5,900 in 2004 and reached 61,400 units for the year, down 14.5% from 71,800.
• Towable shipments rose 24% in December to 24,800 units from 20,000 in 2004 while full-year totals showed an 8.3% improvement with 323,000 units delivered compared to 298,300.
• Shipments of Class A motorhomes totaled 2,900 units in December, down 31% from 4,200 in 2004. For the year, 37,900 Class A units were shipped, down 18.1% from 46,300 the previous year.
• Travel trailer deliveries rose 44.7% from 11,400 units to 16,500 in December and were up 20.2% for the year with 196,600 units shipped compared to 163,600.
• December fifth-wheel shipments dropped 11.5% to 5,400 units from 6,100 in 2004, while year-end totals showed a 6.8% decline with 84,800 units shipped versus 91,000 a year prior.
• Shipments of Class C motorhomes fell 20% in December to 1,200 units from 1,500 in 2004. For the year, the sector was down 9.1% to 20,900 units from 23,000 the previous year.
• Folding camping trailers shipments increased 26.3% to 2,400 units in December compared with 1,900 in 2004 while the category was down 3.8% for the year with 32,800 units shipped versus 34,100.
• December truck camper shipments dipped by 100 units to 500 compared to 2004 and dropped 8.3% for the full year with 8,800 units shipped compared to 9,600.
• Class B motorhome shipments were flat in December with 200 units delivered and showed a 4% gain for the year from 2,500 to 2,600 units.
• Shipments of conversion vehicle declined 32.4% in December to 2,300 units from 3,400 in 2004 while year-end totals were down 16.4% to 35,100 units versus 42,000 the previous year.