The van conversion industry’s glory days, most likely, will never return, but the wholesale demand for converted vans was greatly improved in March, according to data gathered by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Meanwhile, the dealer demand for converted pickups and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) remained in steep decline in March, the RVIA also reported.
Concerning van conversions, shipments from manufacturers to auto dealers increased 35.5% in March to 4,200 units. When the first three months of this year are compared with the same period a year-ago, van conversion shipments were up 18.5%, to 10,900 units.
But shipments of converted pickups declined 45.5% in March to 1,200 units and converted pickup deliveries were down 35.6% in the first quarter to 2,900 units.
Wholesale deliveries of converted SUVs plunged 50% in March to 300 units and shipments also fell 50% in the first quarter to 800 units.
Van conversions was a 200,000 units-a-year business during the late 1980s but it has been on decline since then as factory-built SUVs have largely crowded converted vans off dealers’ lots.