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The manufacturers of travel trailers and fifth-wheels have a right to think that 2002 was the best year for their segment of the RV industry since the 1970s, according to Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) data.
However, the motorhome market still has a ways to go to recover to the peak wholesale shipments levels of 1999.
Full year 2002 shipments data is not currently available, but more travel trailers were shipped from factories to dealers during the first 11 months of 2002 than was the case during the full years 1999 and 2000, according to RVIA data.
In the case of fifth-wheels, more were delivered to dealers during the first 11 months of 2002 than was the case during the full year 1999, and it appears full-year 2002 fifth-wheel shipments will exceed the full-year 2000 deliveries total.
Specifically, there were 121,900 travel trailers delivered from the factories to dealers during the first 11 months of 2002, compared with 108,400 units delivered during the first 11 months of 2000 and 109,800 units shipped during the first 11 months of 1999.
During the full year 2000, there were 114,500 travel trailers shipped to dealers and 117,500 units were delivered during 1999.
Meanwhile, 61,600 fifth-wheels were shipped during the first 11 months of 2002, compared with 58,800 units delivered during the same portion of 2000 and 56,000 units shipped during the first 11 months of 1999.
During the full year 2000, there were 62,300 fifth-wheels shipped and 60,500 units were delivered during 1999.
Some of the increase in travel trailer shipments can be explained by the shift away from folding campers to hybrid models, which are counted as travel trailers.
Folding camper shipments have been trending down, from 56,500 units shipped during the first 11 months of 1999 to 42,200 unites delivered during the first 11 months of 2002.
Meanwhile, 36,500 Class A motorhomes were shipped during the first 11 months of 2002, compared with 38,100 units delivered during the same portion of 2000 and 45,400 units shipped during the first 11 months of 1999.
In the case of Class C’s, there were 16,900 units delivered during the first 11 months of 2002, compared with 15,600 units shipped during the same portion of 2000 and 17,400 units shipped during the first 11 months of 1999.